Understanding Peace in the Arctic

When: June 2017 | Where: Tromsø (Norway) | Contact: Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv

The Arctic is often claimed to be a unique region, both for its natural environment, as well as the peaceful political conditions that continue to prevail, despite the tensions and challenges taking place on a global scale. Cooperation in the Arctic has shown to be robust and in some ways detached from disagreements and tensions developing elsewhere in international relations. The Understanding Peace in the Arctic conference is a timely international event that brings together international and local researchers that contribute to the understanding of the Arctic, ranging from natural sciences, to social sciences and art. The purpose of the conference is to ask what is “Peace” in the Arctic, in which ways, or how, does our research across the disciplines play a crucial role in contributing to peace in the Arctic, and how is our research relevant to developing policy?

Scientific Highlights


Multidisciplinary communication and the governance of evolving global dynamics in the Arctic

When: 6 April & 12 June 2017 | Where: Prague (Czech Republic) & Umeå (Sweden) | Contact: Justiina Dahl

Specific evolving socio-political and material global dynamics, such as the progress of unprecedented anthropomorphic global warming and the rise of climate change skepticism, put increasing pressure on multidisciplinary communication. This project explores whether the notion of 'boundary object' from science and technology studies could be used to facilitate the further development of multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder communication in the context of evolving, global Arctic governance. In its original framework, the concept was used to examine how the viewpoints and interests of actors inhabiting different social worlds, such as natural and technical scientists, philanthropists, and recreational hunters, have been able to be accounted for in the organization of cooperation for scientific work in complex institutional settings. Two conference sessions, one during Arctic Science Summit Week 2017 and the other during IX International Congress for Arctic Social Sciences, were planned to assist in exploring whether it could also be utilized to facilitate the translation and communication of different normative, epistemic and ontological assumptions of different socio-political actors and scientific disciplines in the development of new, sustainable global governance.

Scientific Highlights

• The notion of “boundary objects” from Science and Technology Studies offers one way to enter the analysis of why specific initiatives that include conflicting interests, many actors and a need for collaboration thrive and others do not.

• An exercise of translating and discussing the different social worlds present and interconnected to work sites of scientists is one way of acknowledging silenced or implicated actors and biases in research design i.e. rising out from differences in temporal and spatial scales.

• In translating visions and reaching out to new audiences, visual interpretations or story lines can sometimes work as better tools in initial communication than mere numeric data.

• In cross-disciplinary research planning there should be enough time planned for interchange between the different paradigms. This ensures that there is a respect for the differences in them. It also lessens the tendency of setting different paradigms in hierarchical position against each other.

Long-term Perspectives on Arctic Social-Ecological Systems

When: 4 April 2017 | Where: Prague (Czech Republic) | Contact: Peter Jordan

A long-term, interdisciplinary perspective is needed to better understand past human responses to changing Arctic environments and present transformations and in turn strengthen the knowledge base for future sustainability strategies. The use of complimentary chronological perspectives (palaeo, contemporary and future) can provide mutually-reinforcing insights into factors that contribute to vulnerability and resilience within the closely interconnected social-ecological systems (SESs) of the Arctic. A conference session will be convened during Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) 2017 to assist in integrating historical, archaeological and long-term environmental and climatic records in order to improve understanding of the ‘palaeo’ aspects of Arctic SESs. In order to build on the ‘palaeo’ outcomes of the ASSW 2017 conference session, opportunities will be explored to convene subsequent conference sessions at ASSW 2018 in Davos, Switzerland to explore developments affecting contemporary Arctic SESs, and at ASSW 2019 in Arkhangelsk, Russia to explore opportunities to support future sustainability.

Scientific Highlights

• Launches the SHWGs new theme of ‘Long-Term Perspectives on Arctic Social Ecological Systems’.

• Goal was to integrate archaeological, historical and ecological datasets to investigate Arctic SESs from a ‘palaeo’ perspective, and to better understand what contributes to their long-term fragility, resilience and long-term sustainability.

• Papers had wide temporal and full circumpolar geographic coverage; papers also presented by several Russian colleagues.

• Early Career Scientists played a central roles (both as speakers and as co-chair).

• Papers will be published in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Quaternary International (Elsevier).


10th Siberian Studies Conference, "Passion for Life: Emotions and Feelings in the North and Siberia"

When: 24-26 October 2016 | Where: St. Petersburg (Russia)

The Siberian Studies conference in St. Petersburg is the largest international conference for Siberian Studies researchers in Russia. It aims to increase the interest of early career scholars in Siberian native culture and emotional anthropology, and to provide a mentoring role for new scholars. The SHWG will support the participation of early career researchers from IASC countries to attend this conference in October 2016. It will provide an opportunity to discuss future project proposals.

Gail Fondahl

Hiroki Takakura

Scientific Highlights


Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) Meeting

When: 19 June 2016 I Where: Potsdam (Germany)

Announcement and Invitation for a Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) Meeting prior to ICOP 2016:

An informal Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) meeting prior to the 11th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP) will take place on Sunday, 13:00 - 15:00, 19 June 2016, Telegrafenberg, A 43.14473 Potsdam, Room A43-KR.


A European Arctic Policy: The Role of EU Non-Arctic Member States

When: 10 June 2016 | Where: Madrid, Spain

As the European Union is increasingly becoming involved in Arctic affairs, the congress proposed to discuss the role of the regional organization as a unitarian actor, while considering the priorities and strategies developed by its Member States which, in most cases, are already Observers to the Arctic Council and therefore represent the first contact point between the two organizations. Bearing in mind the European commitment to Arctic human and environmental sustainability, the congress was structured around three panel discussions aimed at fostering the debate among its participants: researchers, academics and experts from different fields of knowledge. Moreover, it served as a forum for all early careers to present their contributions and to establish a long lasting international networking. The result of the congress will be made available by issuing the congress proceedings and the most representative papers selected from the related call for papers, will be published by the Spanish Yearbook of International Law.

European Arctic Policy Report

Scientific Highlights

• The interdisciplinary nature of the congress contributed to a strengthened understanding of the European Arctic policy and facilitated an analysis of the recently released document An integrated European Union Policy for the Arctic.

• The Congress provided a forum for sharing knowledge regarding the brand-new project EU-PolarNet, a consortium of European polar research institutions, which aims to develop an integrated EU Polar research programme.

• Results from the Congress will be made available through Congress Proceedings. Select papers will also be published in the Spanish Yearbook of International Law.

• The congress also built on the work of previous scientific activities organized within the research project “The race for the Arctic: International Law issues considering climate change” (MEC, Ref. Num. DER2012-36026). 

Two Workshops on “Building Arctic Resilience”

First Workshop - When: October 2015 | Where: Reykjavik (Iceland)

Second Workshop - When: 30 May -5 June 2016 | Where: Inari (Finland) and Tromsø (Norway)

This initiative aims to build sustainable and resilient Arctic institutions. A joint strategy for this proposal considers the Arctic region in the 2010s to have become part and parcel of global multi-dimensional change(s), and that the globalized Arctic has significant implications worldwide. The project is built on ten interdisciplinary research teams, each developing academic expertise in their own areas, namely: extractive industries and human security; roles of SOEs and TNC in formation of sustainable energy policies; environmental degradation, climate change and conflicts; Indigenous knowledge, governance and global land rush; Arctic technologies and infrastructures; regional development and economy, and migration; Arctic shipping and maritime safety; Asian-Arctic nexus in foreign policy and trade; peace and stability-building in the Arctic; and governance of the marine Arctic and maritime regionalism. Based on this expertise, the following cross-cutting issues are identified: transport, resource extraction and livelihoods. The expertise of the research teams will be used to develop sustainable Arctic institutions in each of these areas. The SHWG is supporting the participation of early career researchers to enable them to attend the first meeting of the research teams at the Arctic Circle in October 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss the state of the globalized Arctic and its implications, and an additional workshop in May or June 2016 in Inari, Finland and Tromsø, Norway to discuss new research methods.

Workshop Report Engaging Cultural Heritage When Building Resilience

Final Report Calotte Academy

Scientific Findings Calotte Academy

Scientific Highlights

• An important precondition for fossil fuel-based development is to redefine cultural heritage, including indigenous/ local (environmental) knowledge, and ‘paradiplomacy,’ as part of ‘industrial civilization’. This should also include ‘resilience’, in which institutions are capable of learning and fixing problems as they emerge.

• There are multiple actors, including extremely important non-state local and regional ones (e.g., the scientific community), directly affected by the results of regional and global processes in the Arctic. It is important to consider: (1) how the voices of different communities are being heard, or not heard, in public and political discussions; (2) how the various stakeholders participate in the building of Arctic futures; and, (3) how this in turn influences other actors in the region.

• It is important to maintain and further develop the interplay between science and politics, that between scientific knowledge and Indigenous / local knowledge, as well as the interplay between material and immaterial things and values. This supports and promotes high political stability in the Arctic, which is beneficial for science and academia.

Gender Asymmetry in Northern Communities: Building a Research Network for the Nordic Countries, Baltics and Russia (NOR-GA)

When: 25-28 January 2016 | Where: Lychen (Germany)

In the indigenous and rural areas of the Nordic Countries, the Baltics and the Far North of Russia, there is a widely shared feeling that female and male identities and life-ways are increasingly out of pace with each other. Building on the “Gender Equality in the Arctic” Conference, this pilot project aims to develop a research agenda and toolkit to address such gender-related social concerns. A workshop and seminar in Hamburg, Germany in February 2016 will explore what "marginal" identities and arrangements reveal about the current complexities and predicaments of gender relations.

Scientific Highlights

• The workshop identified the causes of spatial gender shifts and asymmetries, i.e., the separation of sexes in terms of work and residence, along with the predominantly female out-migration from rural to urban areas, with particular focus on the Russian Far North.

• In light of "the lure of the city", it is worthwhile to flip the perspective and discuss the ways in which small communities and tundra homes provide conditions for personal well-being.

• Gender disparities in the Far North combine with other forms of social exclusion and marginalisation, as is often experienced by single (mostly female) parents; men who take to illegal hunting; or herdsmen and hunters that cannot find a life partner. The concept of intersectionality facilitates the exploration of such multiple forms of marginalisation.

• A scientific domain of growing importance, Queer Studies, can offer valuable insights into gender disparities and muted identities, but it has thus far seldom been applied in circumpolar contexts.

Adaptation Options in the Barents Region – Synthesis and Feedback Workshop

When: 13-14 January 2016 | Where: Bodø (Norway)

The aim of the workshop was to discuss a preliminary assessment of literature about climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation in the Barents region, and use this in a chapter about adaptation options in the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme's assessment on Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic - Part C (AACA-C). The participants were also trying to refine and apply the concepts of adaptation options and interactive drivers of change. The workshop participants were scholars that are contributing to the chapter. They are all experts on climate change adaptation, from academic institutions in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

The aim and scope of the chapter is twofold: It will illustrate the processes that shape adaptation in the Barents Region in the light of multiple stressors and effects of cumulative and interacting changes, including environmental and climatic, societal, institutions and governance, political and economic. And through the analysis of a multiplicity of resources, including the previous chapters of this report, the chapter highlights the conditions that require adaptation, current and future, and assess adaptation actions and the adaptation options. The analyses and assessments are based on data, results, reports and other input from the four different countries and communities composing the Barents Region. The analysis includes a focus on barriers, limits, actions, opportunities and motivations that have a role in adaptation. New and unprecedented changes both in climate and in socio-economic conditions are likely to require a new way of thinking about adaptation.

The result of the workshop, a completed draft of the chapter, will be submitted to the AACA secretariat on the 1st of March 2016. The AACA-C report will be published by the beginning of 2017.

Halvor Dannevig


Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

• The most significant trends that will require adaptation in the Barents Region include urbanization, unbalanced outmigration by gender from  rural areas, consequences of climate change for primary industries, industrial activities, including shipping, public sector responsibilities (floods, health), and infrastructure.

• Adaptation to cumulative and interacting changes is taking place at various societal scales by different actors, sectors, and local governments and take different forms depending on among others the institutional capacity, access to knowledge and to human and economic resources.  Such adaptation takes place with or without national guidelines

• Adaptation in practice is ahead of national developments and guidelines; in the primary industries adaptation is predominantly reactive and adaptation by local governments is predominantly proactive , such as spatial planning, regional and local climate strategies and programs, avalanche protection, adjusting location of buildings to account for sea-level rise .

Infrastructure in the Arctic as a Social and Ecological Challenge

When: 15-26 January 2016 | Where: Vienna (Austria)

Material infrastructure in the Arctic – for settlements, industry, transport, etc. – often means serious impacts on the fragile ecosystems of the North, some of which have been addressed by the ICARP III initiative Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate Change (RATIC). The social and human impacts of infrastructure, however, require better understanding. In response, this workshop, which will tentatively be held in Vienna, Austria in November or December 2015, will combine existing Arctic discourses and initiatives with non-Arctic perspectives. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a better integration of social and ecological perspectives in the study of Arctic infrastructures.

Peter Schweitzer

Scientific Highlights

• Infrastructure emerged as a critical unified topic of pan-Arctic relevance, bringing natural and social science concerns together.

• While infrastructure is a critical component of industrial development (see the IASC-sponsored RATIC project), its relevance is much broader, as infrastructure is a necessary precondition of human dwelling and mobility.

• While the workshop provided excellent examples of the social and ecological challenges of infrastructure, further holistic research regarding the socio-ecological dimensions of infrastructure is needed.


Support for the Special Session “Resources, Quality of Life and Sustainable Development in the Arctic” at the International Geographical Union Regional Conference

When: 17 – 22 August 2015 | Where: Moscow (Russia)

A special session on “Resources, Quality of Life and Sustainable Development in the Arctic” was convened at the International Geographical Union (IGU) Regional Conference in August 2015. The session featured papers that examined the connection between the use of natural resources and human wellbeing in the Arctic in the context of sustainable development in different regional and institutional contexts.

Andrey Petrov

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

Key messages from the special session included the following:
•    Sustainable development in the Arctic must be understood and addressed from interdisciplinary perspectives that incorporate approaches, methodologies and data from both the natural and social sciences.
•    Comparative studies (between regions and across time) are of high importance and relevance in the Arctic.
•    Urban issues in the Arctic, including urban sustainability, are significant and require further examination across the circumpolar region.
•    There is a need for knowledge synthesis regarding sustainable development in the Arctic.
•    Development of sustainable development indicators is one of the research priorities for the near future.


Workshop on Improved Health Knowledge in the Arctic: The Question of Missing Data

When: 11 June 2015 | Where: Oulu (Finland)

Addressing the IASC SHWG scientific foci human health and well being, the workshop focused on the monitoring of health data in the Arctic. It aimed to highlight the obstacles to a sustainable and long-term health monitoring in the Arctic, and became one of the sessions during the 16th International Congress on Circumpolar Health (ICCH-16).
It is uttermost important to have accurate information related to the health development in the Arctic.  Generally, official registers present information about the inhabitants of the Arctic regions that is of equal quality compared to the non-Arctic parts of a respective country. There are, however, two major deficiencies; parameters that are compatible between the Arctic countries and data that has the capacity to illustrate the indigenous peoples separately.

Peter Sköld

Arja Rautio


Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

Key messages from the workshop included the following:
•    Common health statistics such as life expectancy or mortality rates do not provide a sufficient understanding of health status.
•    With a range of different methods and terminology in use in each country, it can be difficult to compare quality of life, marginalization, discrimination, mental health, and living conditions across the Arctic regions.
•    There is a need to improve the inclusion of quantitative ethnic information pertaining to individuals in the Arctic in official health registers and statistics to better understand the health status of Arctic peoples and support sustainable indigenous cultures.