International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP)
The International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP) is an international Arctic science planning process and conference convened periodically by IASC in cooperation with its partners. The IASC Founding Articles’ call for IASC to host such a conference periodically in order to “review the status of Arctic science, provide scientific and technical advice, and promote cooperation and links with other national and international organizations.” Since then, it has been the role of IASC to coordinate this important meeting every decade to identify key scientific questions and issues:
In lead up to its 35th anniversary in 2025, the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) is coordinating a multi-year planning process for the Fourth International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP IV) that will engage Arctic researchers, policy makers, residents and stakeholders from around the world to collegially discuss the state of Arctic science, the place the Arctic occupies in global affairs and systems, to consider the most urgent knowledge gaps and research priorities that lie before us and to explore avenues to address these research needs.
The first ICARP was convened in Hanover New Hampshire, USA in 1995, implementing the IASC Founding Articles’ call for IASC to host such a conference periodically in order to “review the status of Arctic science, provide scientific and technical advice, and promote cooperation and links with other national and international organizations.” Since then, it has been the role of IASC to coordinate this important meeting every decade. ICARP II was held in Copenhagen in 2005 and developed twelve forward-looking science plans and resulted in several follow-up international projects and programs, mostly within the framework of the International Polar Year 2007-2008. ICARP III was in Toyama Japan in 2015 and provided a framework to further the development of cross-cutting, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary initiatives for advancing Arctic research cooperation and applications for Arctic knowledge. The IASC Strategic Plan (2018 – 2023) builds on the key priorities and overarching messages of ICARP III.
For ICARP IV, a process initiating in 2022 will culminate at the ICARP conference to be convened in Boulder Colorado, USA in 2025, hosted by a consortium of US institutions, including the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Northern Iowa, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Alaska Pacific University. ICARP I, II, and III focused the attention of the world’s researchers toward the value of strategic international coordination in accelerating progress in addressing critical challenges. ICARP IV will build upon this concept by striving to achieve consensus and build collaborations among the leading scientific, academic, environmental, Indigenous and political organizations currently concerned with Arctic issues.
The ICARP IV process during 2022 to 2025 must be well planned and coordinated with other ongoing international activities. ICARP IV will identify important research questions and priorities that cut across disciplines and knowledge systems, and that require new and innovative thinking and collaboration. ICARP IV will develop a vision for implementation and science plans for addressing these priorities. An integral aspect of the ICARP IV will be the inclusion of early career scientists, Indigenous Peoples, and local residents in the development of priorities and science plans to address the key questions.
The third International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III) provided a framework to:
- identify Arctic science priorities for the next decade;
- coordinate various Arctic research agendas;
- inform policy makers, people who live in or near the Arctic and the global community and
- build constructive relationships between producers and users of knowledge.
- ICARP III does not undertake the development of new science plans but rather builds on the many comprehensive science plans that exist already and compliments those with processes to identify gaps that may need attention.
- integrating priorities for forward-looking, collaborative, interdisciplinary Arctic research and observing and
- establishing an inventory of recent and current synthesis documents and major developments in Arctic research.
Engaging all partners, including funders, in shaping the future of Arctic research needs, ICARP III:
- produced a consensus statement identifying the most important Arctic research needs for the next decade;
- provided a roadmap for research priorities and partnerships and
- identified the potential and specific contributions of Arctic research partners to the International Polar Partnership Initiative
ICARP III was governed by a Steering Committee established by the participating organizations. It was structured along scientific themes and includes a series of events, culminating in a final conference at the Arctic Science Summit Week 2015.
More information on ICARP III is available here: https://icarp.iasc.info/past-icarps/icarp-iii
The Second International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP II) was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, 10-12 November 2005. It brought together scientists, policy makers, research managers, indigenous peoples, and others interested in and concerned about the future of Arctic research.
ICARP II was structured around twelve major areas of potential research needs, each of which has been led by an international team of scientists and other experts (e.g., elders and other leaders in the Indigenous communities of the North).
This process led to the analyses and recommendations, the results of which are documented in eleven Science Plans and a Background Paper on Contaminants.
More information on ICARP II is available here: https://icarp.iasc.info/past-icarps/icarp-ii
In the early 1990s, as IASC became fully operational, three developments converged to highlight the value of planning for the conduct of Arctic science. First, the end of the cold war and the emergence of a spirit of regional cooperation in the Arctic (reflected in the launching of the AEPS as well as the establishment of IASC itself) opened up the prospect of substantive cooperation between western and Russian scientists interested in the circumpolar north. Second, the onset of the era of ‘big science’ with research projects involving collaboration among larger groups of scientists and research institutes placed a premium on the development of effective coordination mechanisms. And third, the realization that the Arctic is a dynamic region subject to rapid and often non-linear changes in both biophysical and socioeconomic terms provided new impetus for conducting coordinated observations in an effort to understand the behavior of Arctic systems.
IASC took the initiative early on to address this need, beginning with an effort on the part of the Executive Committee to develop a Science Agenda for the organization and moving forward at the 1994 annual meeting to approve an initial agenda focusing on four broad themes: (1) impacts of global change on the Arctic region and its peoples; (2) Arctic processes of relevance to global systems; (3) natural processes within the Arctic; and, (4) sustainable development in the Arctic. This meeting also generated the idea that it would be useful to convene a larger international planning conference to provide a roadmap for all those engaging in or desiring to engage in research on Arctic topics that would contribute to common themes and produce more robust findings. The US NSF, with proactive leadership on the part of Bob Corell and Pat Webber, rose to the occasion and provided generous finan02IASC Initiatives00cial backing for this initiative. Thus was born the idea of organizing the first International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP) at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA from 5 to 9 December 1995.
IASC proceeded to appoint a Program Steering Committee for this effort, which included representatives from Russia, Europe, and North America, from both Arctic and non-Arctic states, and from the community of indigenous peoples. The committee took charge of preparations for ICARP I, meeting several times in advance of the conference, making organizational decisions, and working actively with those who served as leaders of the working groups that became the major vehicles for fulfilling the goals of the conference. In all, ten working groups emerged, each guided by one or more coordinators. Each working group prepared a draft science agenda in advance of the conference, refined the agenda during a week-long effort at the conference itself, and prepared a revised plan in the aftermath of the conference. An eleventh theme, dealing with rapid cultural change, emerged during the conference, an indication of the growth of interest in the human dimensions of Arctic systems.
More than 250 scientists, including 33 from Russia, attended the week-long conference in Hanover. This group was notable both for its diversity and for the strong sense of community that pervaded the meeting. The working groups focused, for the most part, on substantive themes that provided opportunities for scientists representing different disciplines to join forces to design research activities of common interest. A strong theme within the group centered on the linkages between development in the Arctic and broader concerns about global environmental change then emerging as a prominent topic in the international science community.
The participants in the conference, under the leadership of the Program Steering Committee, produced two documents: an Executive Summary and a Final Report on the work of ICARP I entitled “Arctic Systems: Natural Environments, Human Actions, and Nonlinear Processes.” The Final Report1contains the report of the Conference Chair (Oran Young of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dart-mouth) as well as reports of the Working Groups on: (1) Effects of Increased Ultraviolet Radiation in the Arctic; (2) Regional Cumulative Impacts—Barents Sea; (3) Regional Cumulative Impacts—Bering Sea; (4) Mass Balance of Arctic Glaciers and Ice Sheets; (5) Terrestrial Ecosystems and Feedbacks on Climate Change; (6) Arctic Marine/Coastal/Riverine Systems; (7) Disturbance and Recovery of Terres-trial Ecosystems; (8) Dynamics of Arctic Populations and Ecosystems; (9) Sustainable Use of Living Re-sources; and, (10) Environmental and Social Impacts of Industrialization on the Arctic.
A few general observations on the work of ICARP I will help to put this effort in perspective. The title of the final report captured several of the major themes running through the ICARP I process. Al-though natural scientists dominated the work of IASC at the time, the conference drew attention both to the role of anthropogenic drivers of large-scale developments in the region and to the im-pacts of biophysical processes on the well-being of humans living in the Arctic. The result was an effort to enhance collaboration between natural and social scientists, an effort that has become an increas-ingly prominent feature of Arctic research with the passage of time. The report also emphasized the importance of nonlinear processes affecting Arctic systems. At the time, concepts that have become influential recently, such as tipping elements and tipping points, planetary boundaries, and the idea of the Anthropocene were not familiar. But there was an awareness of the importance of rapid and often turbulent change in what is now known as coupled socio-ecological systems. In an important sense, ICARP I not only provided an opportunity for groups of scientists to design coordinated research initia-tives, it also helped to move Arctic science onto the cutting edge of the broader effort to increase our understanding of the dynamics of the Earth System.
It is difficult to measure the success or the effectiveness of an event like ICARP I. But there are at least three dimensions by which it is possible to assess the success of the conference. To begin with, ICARP I provided IASC with a programmatic identity. In the wake of the conference, it was much easier to specify where IASC fit in the expanding collection of efforts to foster cooperation in the Arctic. ICARP I also helped strengthen the links between Arctic science and global science. In the intervening years, it has become clear that the Arctic is experiencing large-scale changes (e.g., the recession of sea ice) that are more dramatic than those occurring on other parts of the planet. While clear-cut documentation of this phenomenon would take another decade, ICARP I put Arctic science on track to document key changes as they unfolded. And third, ICARP I played an important role in stimulating a sense of community among scientists working on Arctic issues. What saw its start at the December 1988 Leningrad meeting became a reality in Hanover in December 1995.
Another way of measuring the success of ICARP I would be to compare the “List of IASC Projects” with the ten conference working group reports, which shows that nine of the reports have resulted in an approved IASC project . Some reports have also inspired the initiation of related projects.In the final analysis, the value of ICARP I is reflected in the decision to repeat this exercise on a decadal scale. ICARP II took place in Copenhagen in 2005; it is expected that ICARP III is being organized for 2015.