Arctic Angel Whole Systems Workshop: Investment in Leadership for the Future


On the 7th September 2023, 10 Arctic Angels convened in Évora, Portugal for a three-day in-person workshop all about our interconnected Earth systems and the importance of protecting our Arctic sea ice.

After months of preparation, days of travel and hours of anticipation, Global Choices successfully completed our first ever in-person workshop for the Arctic Angels. It is with generous support from Daughters for Earth that this workshop became a reality.

Nestled in the picturesque city of Évora, Portugal, the workshop brought together 10 Arctic Angels from diverse backgrounds, united by their shared commitment to preserving the Arctic sea ice. Guided by the Arctic Angel coordinators, Ingrid Bååth and Felicity Silverthorne, and bolstered by the presence of Inge Relph, Global Choices’ Co-Founder and Executive Director, this event was designed to harness the collective power of this network of changemakers through immersive, interactive, and enlightening experiences.

Each day of the three-day workshop was themed to give the sessions structure and flow that would help the Arctic Angels get the most out of the learnings. On day one we focused on giving an introduction to what whole system science is, and to what extent Earth systems interact with each other. The second day was focused on the role of the Arctic sea ice in climate stability – and why we are so concerned about the cryosphere as a whole. The last day focused on connecting the dots between the Arctic Angels own communities and the learnings from the two previous days, ensuring they understood the interconnectedness of the Arctic sea ice with the rest of the world.

We were lucky enough to be joined by two incredible experts in person to facilitate and lead sessions for the workshop. Lisbon-based, Creative Leadership Program Curator Livia Tirone joined us to facilitate the workshop days as well as to hold space for conscious connection, reflection and leadership development.

We were also joined by Porto-based Arctic geopolitics and international relations PhD researcher Céline Rodrigues. Céline led sessions about the importance of the Arctic region, and how we can relate to the Arctic no matter where we are in the world. She brought the hypothetical Arctic risks to life by illustrating the effects a melting cryosphere has on the world.

Dr. Jullie Pullen, renowned Whole Systems scientists, set the scene of the workshop, engaging the Arctic Angels in a virtual introductory session to whole systems science – the scientific concept of how Earth systems interact with each other.

The aim of the workshop was to give the Arctic Angels a space to discuss, network and connect under the backdrop of whole systems science. Ensuring the Arctic Angels are equipped to build awareness about the importance of the Arctic sea ice as a Global Commons has been a main goal of the network since it’s inception. Additionally, investing in these young women, connecting them with industry professionals and with each other is key to building confidence and giving them a platform to amplify their voices further.

Former Arctic Angel and Global Choices advisor Diviya Nawale was able to hold a virtual session on the first day providing crucial insights into what being an Arctic Angel and Polar advocate looks like. Now working for the UNFCCC, Divya inspired the Angels to understand how they can transform their activism into long-lasting climate careers.

The Angels were also introduced to why women play a particular role in climate action by SHE Changes Climate Co-Founder Bianca Pitt who joined the workshop virtually on the last day. Through an interactive and open discussion session, Bianca encouraged the Angels to think critically about the gender disparities we see in climate decision making and helped them realise their potential as young women with unique worldviews and experiences.

One of the main intentions of the workshop was to bring the Angels together to learn more about the importance of Global Choices’s work – and specifically gain a better understanding of the call for a 10-Year Moratorium on the Central Arctic Ocean Ice. To do this, Inge gave a Moratorium briefing to the Angels followed by a presentation and discussion led by Arctic Angel Beth. Beth, undergraduate student of Law at the University of Cambridge, has been interning at Global Choices over the summer to help draft a Moratorium text to be presented as a legal framework to policy makers and heads of state.

Following this insightful Moratorium session, Felicity led a session all about actively engaging with Arctic advocacy through Global Choices’s new initiative, the Arctic Ice Force. Together we conceptualised ideas of how we can grow the network, engage with stakeholders about Arctic protection and got inspired by the work already done.

Through the brilliant guidance of experts, guest speakers and facilitators the Arctic Angels were given the chance to bring their communities together. The 10 Arctic Angels represented 12 countries from the Pacific to the Middle East and Europe:

We are so excited to be able to put on more of these workshops in the future, using this first pilot workshop as a basis for how to deliver in-person learning and development opportunities for the Arctic Angels.

“I now feel equipped to communicate the challenges and critical impacts of climate change on the Arctic Region and therefore global ecosystems – especially those I call home”

– Sharona

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