Season´s Greetings from the Bergen Hub Director

Aurora Borealis as Christmas greeting

Hub director Eystein Jansen wishes all members a peaceful and relaxing holiday period, in the hope that next year will see the world coming a bit back to its senses.

I am writing to you after the first snowfall in Bergen and after an unusually dry and sunny autumn. This coincides with the opening of COP28, that will provide a stocktake of how countries are living up to their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the need for urgency, the status unfortunately looks as bleak as an early winter day in the high North.

Our work and daily life, both as citizens and scientists, are severely impacted by the geopolitical situation characterised by increased conflicts and turmoil. This has had an impact on the activities of the AE Bergen Hub and will continue to do so in the years to come. We cannot perform our research in isolation. Scientists must provide and share their knowledge but should if possible, also engage in opportunities to use research and scientific collaboration to reduce tensions through cross-border contacts – thus participate in what is often called ‘science diplomacy’. One of our Hub’s main strategic priorities has always been ‘the Arctic’, and scientific cooperation in this area is now highly affected by the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Our focus has been the fate of scientific collaboration and scientific studies in the Arctic as it has changed dramatically due to both the war and the following sanctions. Throughout 2022 and 2023 our Hub has organised a project where we have analysed some of the effects through, amongst other sources, interviews with many of the stakeholders in Arctic Research. We also held a successful event with key stakeholders at the 2023 Arctic Frontiers conference. This led to a report which is published on our website. We have also been discussed this issue on SAPEA’s podcast.

A critical effect of the Russian invasion is the loss of key scientific data from the Arctic. Russia covers about 40% of the Arctic and the region is undergoing a huge transformation as global warming continues. We really need data to assess the situation, as 2023 is by far the warmest year ever recorded, with global temperatures more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

We will follow up our engagement with a new project called ‘Rethinking Arctic Collaboration’, which will launch before Christmas. The project is funded by UArctic and with support from our host University of Bergen. This project includes academic and non-academic partners from Canada, USA and Europe, who will seek knowledge from experts and stakeholders to further map the situation and hopefully advise as to how scientific collaboration and science diplomacy can be recovered again.

Continuing an important outreach activity from previous years, our Hub has organised a series of lectures throughout 2023in cooperation with academies such as The Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Topics have included the evolutionary meaning of cancer, seabed mining and biodiversity conservation, Arctic Ocean Policyand nature and sustainability.

I’d like to use this opportunity to wish new members from the Nordic/Baltic region a warm welcome. I hope you will engage with AE and with our Hub. We welcome your suggestions in terms of topics, events and initiatives that you think AE and/or our Hub should engage in.

Eystein Jansen, Academic Director of the AE-Bergen Hub.

Eystein Jansen, Academic Director of the AE-Bergen Hub.

I also urge our members to nominate new members. We need an influx of active younger scholars from all fields. Our Hub provides communication and administrative support for the Young Academy of Europe. We see this as a fruitful means of supporting the activity and integration of young scholars into AE activities.

One activity I am personally very hopeful for, is the work of the AE Task Force on Environment, Sustainability and Climate (TFESC), which I am part of. The Task Force came about after undertaking a poll  to gauge interest from our membership. The Task Force held a highly effective workshop in Cambridge in September, the outcomes of which were presented at the AE Annual Meeting in Munich in October. We first aim to spearhead an initiative in the area of a sustainable food system, and more initiatives will follow.

This year I have taken over as Vice-President of the ERC, with responsibilities for the physical sciences and engineering comain of this fantastic organisation which has such a key role in European research. There are many ways that connect the work in AE and our Hub with the goals and aspirations of the ERC. One way I hope to do this is to involve both the AE and the ERC in the International Decade for Science for Sustainability, a recent initiative by the UN General Assembly.

I wish all our members a peaceful and relaxing holiday period, in the hope that next year will see the world coming a bit back to its senses.



The “green” vs the “blue” lens on nature and sustainability

We’re soon going to be 10 billion people on this planet and economic growth is causing additional pressure on nature and Earth’s resources. Christian Jørgensen is professor in marine ecology at UiB. He will discuss how our footprint is affecting our planet, on land and at sea.

The lecture is open to all, and starts at 16.30, November 14th,  in Auditorium 2 in Realfagbygget, Allegaten 41.

A myriad of data on global resource use and potential impacts exists, but how can one piece together a holistic view of the state of our planet? A particular challenge is that the consequences of our choices may take place much later and far away. This talk will present key data on the state of humanity and our planet.

It is likely that you will be surprised by some of the comparisons between what happens at land and in the oceans. Having a broad view is essential if we, as individuals or societies, are to make the choices that secure a good future for everyone on Earth.

Organisers: NTVA and Academia Europaea Bergen.

Arctic climate data unavailable to science following Russia sanctions

Currently, Arctic climate research does not have access to climate data from 45% of the Arctic area. This is because climate data from the Russian Arctic areas is largely no longer available to the global research community, as a by-product of the Russia sanctions.

This is one of the findings in the report “The Future of Arctic Science and Science Diplomacy”, initiated by Academia Europaea Bergen, the Nordic hub for the European science academy Academia Europaea.

The absence of complete data for climate development in the Arctic is potentially dramatic, as the Arctic is seen as a “temperature gauge” for global warming. In the Arctic, temperatures are rising three times faster than generally in global warming.

Another situation demanding attention in the Arctic is the thawing of the permafrost and the methane emissions resulting from this. A complete picture of this will also require complete data from all Arctic areas including the Russian ones.

This lack of complete data is a by-product of the sanctions following the Russian war in Ukraine, sanctions that also affect cooperation with Russian scientists, including climate scientists.

Academia Europaea Bergen has commissioned the political scientist Ole Øvretveit to assemble a report on the situation for science diplomacy in the Arctic in the wake of the Russia sanctions since February 2022, with a particular focus on the consequences the lack of science diplomacy has had on the sharing of climate data and access to the collection of data.

Further follow-up of the project is ensured through a grant of NOK 400,000 from UArctic.

The complete report can be read or downloaded here. 

The topics of the report were also central to a successful event with key stakeholders at the 2023 Arctic Frontiers conference. The issue has also been the topic of a SAPEA’ podcast, with project manager Ole Øvretveit and hub director Eystein Jansen as guest of the podcast.

GoNorth – Exploring the Arctic Ocean

The high North is Norway’s most important strategic foreign policy area. The GoNorth project has completed two expeditions into the Arctic Ocean, and will present discoveries from this summer’s expedition along the mid sea ridge northwest of Svalbard, including hydrothermal vent fields that have never previously been explored.

The event at Egget, Studentsenteret, University of Bergen October 17th, is organized jointly by the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences (NTVA) and the Norwegian Scientific Academy of Polar Research (NVP).

About the event
The Norwegian Government has defined the high North as its most important strategic foreign policy area. Presence and knowledge are key elements. GoNorth has completed two expeditions into the Arctic Ocean, using the research icebreaker Kronprins Haakon and the University of Bergen ROV Ægir as main platforms. The seminar will concentrate on this summer’s expedition along the mid sea ridge northwest of Svalbard, where the scientists discovered hydrothermal vent fields that have never previously been explored.

  • Presentation of GoNorth – background and mission, by Gunnar Sand, Vice president of SINTEF and project manager of GoNorth
  • GoNorth’s scientific plan – what we want to explore, by Rolf Mjelde, professor at UiB and member of the GoNorth management team
  • The 2023 expedition – covering the mid sea ridge and the hydrothermal vent fields, by Rolf Birger Pedersen, professor at UiB and 2023 cruise leader
  • GoNorth into the future – where do we go from here, by Øyvind Paasche and Margit Simon, research manager and senior researcher at NORCE, and future GoNorth managers

Hanne Sagen will co-chair the event on behalf of NVP.

More information at the UiB website.

Practical information

  • The event will be held in English
  • The event is free and open to all
  • There will be refreshments served outside the auditorium Egget from 16.00
  • The event starts at 16.30, and is estimated to last for two hours
  • Egget is in the Studentsenter, Parkveien 1.

“Science Diplomacy in the Arctic” project from AE-Bergen Hub topic of SAPEA podcast

400 000 NOK grant from UArctic secures further research

The project commissioned by the Academia Europaea Bergen Hub, “The Future of Science Diplomacy in the Arctic”, is the topic of a recent episode of the SAPEA podcast. “Genuinely one of the most important topics I’ve ever discussed on this podcast”, says Toby Wardman, host of the SAPEA podcast, about his discussion with project manager Ole Øvretveit and AE-Bergen Hub director Eystein Jansen.

The podcast starts with some general information about the Arctic and how it is governed by the 8 Arctic countries, as well as the function of the Arctic Council. This as a background for the discussion on the current state of Scientific Diplomacy in the Arctic and the current lack of exchange of scientific data from the Arctic as a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Climate data missing

– In the absence of complete climate data from the Arctic, if a situation where Russian climate date are missing continues several years, we’ll miss data on the state of the permafrost, the emission of greenhouse gasses from the permafrost, the reflectivity of the planet and the speed of the changes, AE-Bergen Hub director Eystein Jansen says in the podcast.

– Is there any kind of unified view in the scientific community in terms of how to handle this situation, Wardman asks in the podcast.

Ole Øvretveit

Ole Øvretveit, Manager of Arctic Science diplomacy project, Academia Europaea

– My impression from the people I’ve talked to for our report, is that everybody has the deepest understanding that there needs to be strong reactions from the West against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is still unprecedented that science collaboration has been shut down overnight as a part of sanctions, Ole Øvretveit says.

You can be updated on several other aspects of this topic from podcast, available from the SAPEA website, but also on Spotify and YouTube.

Earlier this spring, “The Future of Science Diplomacy in the Arctic” project from the AE-Bergen Hub was also awarded a grant of 400 000 NOK from UArctic, for further research on the topic.  

This project was initiated in the autumn of 2022, and has already resulted in a side-event at the Arctic Frontiers Conference, and a report that will be available in early autumn. The grant from UArctic will secure the continuity of the project, as well as open new avenues of research and new partnerships.

The summary of the project reads: “The tight connection between science and diplomacy in the Arctic has traditionally helped reduce geopolitical tensions and facilitated international resource management. However, after Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, the Russo-western relationship has entered an ice-cold face. Due to the war and international sanctions, science, science-informed decisions, and science diplomacy suffer severely. Reduced international Arctic science collaboration may have severe consequences for climate research and other important scientific topics like social science and ocean ecosystems.

The objective of the project is to understand what the effects of war are on scientific collaborations and the volume and value of arctic science in the north. And, in the light of various discussions in the scientific community, to elevate a discussion on what principles should be the foundation for political decisions on science collaboration across borders in turbulent times. And finally, what may become the characteristics of the future Arctic science collaboration architecture”.

For the continued project, the project coordinator will be AE-Bergen Hub director Eystein Jansen, while the project manager is political scientist Ole Øvretveit.

Working with international experts

– First and foremost, this grant and the continuation of the project will give us the opportunity to work in a more structured and strategic way with some of the best experts on this issue internationally. With academic partners from both Germany, Canada, and the US, and also organizations representing indigenous experience and competence, we can include bothh broader and sharper perspectives on this issue, Ole Øvretveit says.

The partners in the continued project are the Alfred Wegner Institute, Germany, Nord University, Norway, Dartmouth College, USA, The Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Canada as well as the international NGO International Center of Reindeer Husbandry.

Eystein Jansen, Academic Director of the AE-Bergen Hub.

Eystein Jansen, Academic Director of the AE-Bergen Hub.

– The issue of Science Diplomacy in the Arctic and how this is affected by the freeze in the Russo-western relationship following the Russian war in Ukraine, will probably be with us probably for years to come. The longer this conflict and the resulting political instability lasts, the harder it will be to restart Science diplomacy efforts, Eystein Jansen says.

– The grant from UArtic will give us a two year perspective on the project. This will give us opportunity to observe the ongoing events over a longer time frame, Jansen adds.

– 45 percent of the Arctic is Russian territory. It is a cause for great concern that data from Russian scientists now are missing in most international projects, particularly in climate research. We have seen earlier that climatic change in the Arctic have been indicators of developments affecting other areas later. With the continuation of the project, we can now broaden our scope to look at the effects of the freezing of Arctic Science Diplomacy on research both in terrestrial and oceanographic areas, Ole Øvretveit says.

Celebrating 30 years of European Review

In 1993, the scientific journal of the Academia Europaea, European Review, was launched to reflect the Academy’s mission to foster discourse and cooperation between the disciplines. Initially published by Wiley, European Review is now published by Cambridge University Press.

A celebratory event marking 30 years of the European Review (1993-2023) will take place on Monday 3rd July 2023, at Wolfson College, Lee Hall, University of Cambridge.

This is a hybrid event, with zoom attendance possible. Read more here.  

Seabed Mining and Biodiversity Conservation in the Deep Sea

Seabed Mining and Biodiversity Conservation in the Deep Sea: Where Science meets Policy

Deep seabed mining is coming closer to a reality, presumably motivated by the need for rare metals. In this lecture Lisa A. Levin, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will highlight the deep-sea ecosystems being targeted for seabed mining, their biodiversity and why it matters, potential threats and management challenges.

A lecture in the Horizon Series on Thursday 20th 16.0017.45

Deep seabed mining is of rising interest and coming closer to a reality, presumably motivated by the need for rare metals to electrify transport systems.  This presentation will highlight the deep-sea ecosystems being targeted for seabed mining, their biodiversity and why it matters, and the potential threats from seabed mining. Alongside the science, the complex management challenges posed by this nascent industry under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea will be discussed.

For more details, see the event page at University of Bergen.