At ASSW2022 Henry Burgess was elected IASC President. The IASC Community in welcoming Henry thanks Larry Hinzman for his devoted service over the last 4 years. Below, the text of Henry Burgess's Closing Remarks at ASSW2022 as IASC President. 

Larry, you have led IASC magnificently over the last four years. Your wise judgement, patience and kindness have been hugely appreciated by everybody. All combined with a steely determination to move IASC forward, to ensure that the ASSWs have been a fantastic success and to make a genuine difference at every opportunity. You have been as ambitious for IASC as you have been for Arctic science itself.

There are so many achievements, but your commitment to inclusion and to diversity, to giving new talent a chance to shine at every level, to recognise and respond to the need for better Indigenous Peoples representation and engagement – those are making IASC an even stronger organisation. Leadership is about many things, but it is certainly about living the values of the organisation whilst shaping them for the future. You have done that in many many ways.

Larry, I am very glad – and also relieved – that you will be staying close to IASC and that we can continue to work with you for many years ahead. Thank you.

Thank you to all the IASC Council Members for placing their confidence in me as your President for the next four years. It is truly an honour. I promise that I will work as hard, and as openly and as collaboratively with you as I can. To continue the vital work of IASC itself and so that we can support you, the Arctic research community, to achieve even more in the future.

It is a great pleasure to welcome João Canário from Portugal and Matthew Druckenmiller from the United States onto the IASC Executive Committee for this first time this year. And equally to see Paula Kankaanpää from Finland elected for her second term. Along with our colleague Hiroyuki Enomoto from Japan and Gerlis Fugmann our Executive Secretary, I know we have an extremely strong Executive Committee.

The need for an independent, active, truly cooperative International Arctic Science Committee is greater now than it has ever been.

The breadth and depth of environmental and social change in the Arctic is asking pressing questions that demand the attention of the best researchers, working in genuine and equal partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. As a young and adaptable organisation supported by committed members and partners IASC has already achieved much in helping to drive forward Arctic science research and engagement. We are well-placed to lead and achieve even more in the years ahead.

The planned establishment of our Standing Committee on Indigenous Engagement will be very important and welcome moment in IASC’s development. We will have the opportunity to show how we make our commitment to genuine and empowering partnership with Indigenous Peoples work in practice. I look forward to helping make that a reality.

Importantly, the next three years will see IASC taking a leading role, with others, in the ICARP IV process. I am committed to ensuring that this is as successful and inclusive as possible, with clear and strong outcomes which will guide the following decade of international Arctic research and our own new Strategic Plan. As well as working with passion towards what we hope will be an International Polar Year in 2032-33.

There is much to do and to be successful we need everyone in the IASC family to know that they can make the most of their talent and potential. In particular to see that diversity and representation across the organisation and its activities is valued and supported. I know we have made positive steps in recent years and I look forward to working with you to build on this important work, to benefit everyone.

Of course this week – as in previous weeks – our thoughts have been with the suffering of the people - including our friends and colleagues - in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries, as a result of the war. We all fervently hope for peace to come as quickly as possible.

My thoughts have also been with my research colleagues – my friends - across Russia. Many of you have said the same to me this week. We understand why it must be so, but we feel their absence here.

The responsibility – the duty – is on IASC – on us - to do what Prof Dalee Sambo Dorough said in her Medal Lecture at the start of our Week – we must find the ‘Right Thing to Do’. That is not easy. We have to recognise the reality of the situation and yet hope – and more importantly work – for better times to come.

Of course we discussed these issues fully in our Council meeting on Wednesday. I am grateful to all the Council members for their openness, their frankness and the serious but still hopeful spirit in which the discussion was held. Despite the terrible difficulty of the situation, that is a positive and welcome sign.

We will now take all those contributions and develop an approach that is consistent with IASC’s values, our procedures & responsibilities, and our aims in the years ahead. And which takes account of the many practical realities that we have to address. Our goal is to reach a common position on which the whole of Council can agree.

You have my assurance that we will do our best to do the Right Thing. We will work swiftly, but we will take the time we need to get it right.

The hardest times test even the best organisations. Yet I am confident that – with you - we will find our way through this, for the short term and the long term. For everyone involved – especially individual researchers and the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. And in recognition of the truly international, transboundary, globally-connected Arctic and Arctic research.

We have much to do in the year ahead.

So along with the local organisers I look forward to welcoming you to Vienna in Austria for the ASSW 2023 between 17-24 February next year.

And then in the following year to the United Kingdom. We are about to choose the venue and the date and I look forward to sharing those with you – through the IASC Newsletter – in the next month.

I think we have had participants from over 50 countries here with us this week. So I wish you all safe travels back to your friends and family, however short or long your journey home. And if you are lucky enough to live in this beautiful city of Tromsø I wish you a happy weekend in the snow and the sun. Thank you for making us feel so welcome here.

Thank you and l look forward to working with you and seeing you all again as soon as possible.


Henry Burgess newHenry Burgess is the Head of the Natural Environment Research Council Arctic Office in the United Kingdom. The Arctic Office supports research in the Arctic; provides advice and support to policy makers; develops new international scientific cooperation across all aspects of Arctic research; and co-ordinates the UK’s Arctic Research Station in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. He has been the UK’s IASC Council Member since 2016 and part of the IASC Executive Committee since 2018. He was elected as President in 2022 at the ASSW meeting in Tromsø.

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