Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 318

318         Arctic Yearbook 2014 local decision structures so that knowledge can also flow bottom-up. Furthermore, according to a questionnaire respondent, EU and rural development policies should encourage and facilitate multidirectional knowledge exchange in order to “promote new innovations, which are based on exceptional arctic environment and cultures”. Increased knowledge sharing would have positive impacts on Arctic socio-natural capital. Firstly, it would enhance the potential for collaboration when different actors from different institutional levels know what other actors are doing. Secondly, according to one questionnaire respondent, holistic and cumulative impacts of land use should be taken better into account by currently separate management and policy processes. This would increase the possibility for adaptive learning from past activities and further develop more informed future practices and thus increase the socionatural capital. Thirdly, it would be important also for socio-natural capital to establish more close linkages between science, policy and stakeholders, and between knowledge holders (e.g. scientists, traditional knowledge) and knowledge users (e.g. policy makers). Enhancing Social Impact Assessments Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes have become widely used as a proactive planning tool also in the Arctic regarding large-scale environmental projects like mining or energy production. In the workshop and questionnaires, the need for more detailed and effective Social Impact Assessment (SIA) was stressed. “To stay within ecologically defined frames is an imperative for future sustainability. Social and cultural values must define societies’ development, and the economy must be developed and managed in order to achieve social objectives”. Yet, social impact assessments are not necessarily conducted or their role in EIA is minor (Suopajärvi 2013). The EU is currently working on amending its EIA directive, and there is a possibility to raise the importance of social impact assessment, and ultimately the inclusion of social aspects in all environmental impact assessment processes. That is important especially in the areas which are sparsely populated and should take account of activities which require extensive land use (like reindeer herding) and are affected by new developments expected in rapidly changing European north. In the context of mining, social licensing mechanisms have become an important instrument for better acknowledgement of local socio-cultural needs. Social license is acquired if there is an undeniable right and acceptance from the local population for the mine to operate. Mining companies have had a growing motivation to gain social license as investors are emphasising responsible production and would rather invest their money in companies with a good reputation (Heikkinen et al. 2014). Moreover, a major advantage of the notion of social license is that it is dynamic, i.e. constitutes a “process”, where the social acceptance of activities is being revisited throughout the cycle of the mining project – thus, once obtained, social license may be lost. However, the weakness of social license is its abstract and imprecise meaning. It is largely a matter of perception of the company, community, groups of stakeholders as well as external actors. It is also difficult to define a threshold above which there is enough social consensus among stakeholders and the public that social license indeed has been obtained. Thus, to no surprise differen X