OXFORD, England (CNS) — Two European Catholic commissions warned that Arctic warming is intensifying competition over the region’s resources and urged tougher policies to protect its biodiversity and Indigenous communities.

As exploration, mining, investment, and military activities increase, predatory practices also can increase, said the Brussels-based Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, or COMECE, and Justice and Peace Europe.

“Such exploitative tendencies may not only exclude local communities from a fair share in the profit, but also lead to grave human rights violations and cause irreparable environmental damage,” said the joint statement, issued in mid-November. The statement, issued as a contribution to the European Union’s current Arctic policy review, said the region’s four million inhabitants included at least 40 Indigenous ethnic groups, whose “social, cultural, religious and linguistic rights” needed greater protection.

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