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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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.
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.
– 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.
The AE-Bergen Hub organized a side event at the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø February 3rd, titled “The Future of Arctic Science and Science Diplomacy”. The backdrop is the freezing of science diplomacy efforts during the sanctions in the wake of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.
The project on Science Diplomacy in the Arctic is commissioned by the Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub, and will include a report to be published later in the year. Political scientist Ole Øvretveit is preparing the report, and also planned the Arctic Frontiers conference side event with the Hub.
– It is important to make clear that this event is not seeking to criticize the western governments for sanctioning in principle. Aggressive states going to war should be penalized anywhere, not least here in our neighborhood.
– Still, there have been strong voices questioning the sanctions against science collaboration and the procedures for making these decisions, like the International Science Council, calling for more involvement from the scientific community in the processes leading to the political decisions. Then again, there are also those calling for stronger sanctions, Øvretveit said in his introduction.
The Future of Arctic Science and Science Diplomacy is the topic of a side event organized by Academia Europaea partners during the Arctic Frontiers conference 2023.
University of Bergen
Norwegian Polar Institute
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA)
University of Tromsø
Ole Øvretveit, Manager of Arctic Science diplomacy project, Academia Europaea
Dag Rune Olsen, Rector, University of Tromsø
Lise Øvreås, President of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
Ole Arve Misund, Executive Director, Norwegian Polar Institute
Nicole Biebow, Chair of The European Polar Board//Alfred Wegner Institute (digital)
Panel debate – Chair: Ole Øvretveit
Eystein Jansen, Vice President, European Research Council
Mike Sfraga, Chair, US Arctic Research Commission
Clara Ganslandt, Special Envoy for Arctic Matters to the EU
Petteri Vuorimäki, Finland’s Ambassador for Arctic Affairs
Lars Kullerud, President, UArctic
War, pandemic, climate change, biodiversity loss, energy crisis and geopolitical tensions are now part of our everyday life, especially for people living in or near the Arctic. Scientific and evidence-based state-to-state cooperation have historically been intertwined and of high importance in the Arctic, and even in periods when relationships have been strained, collaboration and dialogue has remained operative in this region.
This tight connection between science and diplomacy 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-based decisions, and science diplomacy suffers severely. Without access to Russian scientists and territory, scientific data become incomplete, creating additional crisis. Reduced international Arctic science collaboration may have severe consequences for climate research and other important scientific topics like social science and ocean ecosystems. The event will highlight and debate following questions:
What is the status of Arctic Science diplomacy and collaboration?
What are the effects of war on scientific collaborations in the north?
What are the effects of the war on volume and value of arctic science?
What avenues can we foresee for Arctic Science and science diplomacy?
Dr. Michael Sfraga
Dr. Michael Sfraga is chair of the United States Arctic Research Commission. Prior to his current appointments, he was the founding director of the Polar Institute and concurrently served as director of the Global Risk and Resilience Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Sfraga also serves as chair and distinguished fellow in the Polar Institute, where his research and public speaking focus on Arctic policy. An Alaskan and a geographer by training, Sfraga studies the changing geography of the Arctic and Antarctic landscapes, Arctic policy, and the impacts and implications of a changing climate on political, social, economic, environmental, and security regimes in the Arctic. Sfraga served as distinguished co-lead scholar for the U.S. Department of State’s inaugural Fulbright Arctic Initiative from 2015 to 2017, a complementary program to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council; he held the same position from 2017 to 2019. He served as chair of the 2020 Committee of Visitors Review of the Section for Arctic Science (ARC), Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs. Sfraga previously held several academic, administrative, and executive positions, including vice chancellor, associate vice president, faculty member, department chair, and associate dean. He earned the first PhD in geography and northern studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he is affiliate faculty in the International Arctic Research Center.
Nicole Biebow is chair of The European Polar Board (EPB), an independent organisation focused on major strategic priorities in the Arctic and Antarctic. EPB Members include research institutes, logistics operators, funding agencies, scientific academies and government ministries from across Europe. She received her PhD in Marine Geology at GEOMAR in Kiel in 1996. She has long-standing experience in the management of international projects and coordination of international consortia. Since 2010, she has led the International Cooperation Unit at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). She is responsible for all international relations of the AWI and maintains an extensive network of contacts in the European and international science and policy communities. Nicole is the Coordinator of the EU coordination and support action EU-PolarNet 2, having previously served as Executive Manager of EU-PolarNet (1), as well as being Coordinator of the EU-funded Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium (ARICE).
Clara Ganslandt is Special Envoy for Arctic Matters at the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Union’s diplomatic service, since September 2022. Ganslandt’s role is to drive forward the EU’s Arctic policy, enhance cooperation with partner countries and other interested parties, improve coordination between the different EU institutions, mainstream Arctic issues in policy-making, and promote and publicise the EU’s Arctic engagement externally. She was born in Sweden and entered the Swedish diplomatic service in 1990. Following Sweden’s accession to the EU in 1995, she joined the first structure set up in the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers of the EU to build the EU Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP); and she has since then worked in EU external relations in various functions. She holds a Master of Laws (LLM) from the Lund University in Sweden, and also studied at the College of Europe in Bruges, and at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris.
Petteri Vuorimäki is Finland’s Ambassador for Arctic Affairs since September 2019, and Finnish Senior Arctic Official in the Arctic Council. Until the fall of 2022 also Ambassador for Antarctic Affairs. Before his current post he served in diplomatic postings for Finland in Moscow, Pristina, Strasbourg and Brussels. Before his MFA career he worked for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva (Coordinator for Russia and the CIS Countries) and Helsinki and held various positions in the Finnish Labour Administration. In Brussels, he worked in the Finnish Permanent Representation to the EU in charge of the COEST Working Party (Russia, CIS, Arctic and Northern Cooperation, European Neighborhood Policy, Black Sea cooperation), in the External Relations Directorate General of the European Commission (Unit for Relations with Russia) and in the European External Action Service, where he in 2011 was the first permanent chairperson for the COEST and COSCE Working Parties and subsequently as from 2015 a Senior Russia Expert. In Brussels his primary fields of interest and responsibility were EU-Russia relations, Union’s Eastern Neighborhood and regional cooperation structures in the North, including the Arctic cooperation. He was also Chair of the Vision Group for the Council of the Baltic Sea States, – a group of independent experts which submitted a report to the CBSS Ministerial meeting on the future of the CBSS and the Baltic Sea region cooperation.
Lise Øvreås is the president of the Norwegian Academy of science and letters, since 2022. She was the scientific director for University of Bergen`s strategic SDG initiative Ocean Sustainability Bergen from 2019 – 2021. She holds a PhD in microbial ecology from University of Bergen in 1998, where she since 2007 has been professor in geomicrobiology. She was central in applying and establishing the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Geomicrobiology at UiB in 2007 and led the research topic “The deep Biosphere” for 5 years. She served as dean of research at the faculty for mathematic and natural sciences from 2009 – 2015. She is also member of The Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences and Academia Europaea. She holds an associate professor position at University Centre at Svalbard since. Her research focus on microbial processes and functions along environmental gradients with special emphasis on climate change, permafrost, extreme environments and biodiversity.
Dag Rune Olsen
Dag Rune Olsen is rector of UiT The Arctic University of Norway, a position he took in 2021. Prior that he served as dean and later rector at the University of Bergen. Olsen is a professor of medical physics and holds a PhD from the University of Oslo. He served as head of research at The Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo and professor at University of Oslo until he took up a position as dean at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Bergen. Professor Olsen has served as chair of Universities Norway (the Norwegian rectors conference) and as member of the research policy working group of European University Association (EUA). He chairs the board of the Nordic Institute of Studies of Innovation, Research and Education and serves on the board of cultural institutions in Norway. Olsen has been awarded with The Breur Award for his research, is elected member of The Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences the Academia Europaea of which he was also presented with the Presidents Merit Award in 2021. He is also an honorary professor at the Shandong University.
Eystein Jansen holds a PhD in Earth Science from the University of Bergen where he since 1993 is professor of palaeoclimatology. Jansen was the founding director of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, which he led for 13 years. Jansen is presently Academic Director for the Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub and is vice director for the interdisciplinary SapienCE Centre, on Early Sapiens behaviour at the University of Bergen. Jansen is Vice President of the European Research Council (ERC) and a member of Academia Europaea, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences and the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research. Jansen was in 2019 awarded the Brøgger prize and the Meltzer prize for excellence in research. His research has primarily dealt with the influence of changes in ocean circulation on climate and on natural climate changes of the past and present.
Ole Arve Misund
Ole Arve Misund is the Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute since 2017. He has previously been Managing Director at National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research and at the Norwegian University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). He worked for a number of years at the Institute of Marine Research, where he was, among other things, director of research from 2000 – 2012. He was director of the University Center in Svalbard from 2012 – 2016. In 2015, Misund was appointed director of the National Institute for Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), which in 2018 was merged into the Institute of Marine Research. Misund is chairman of the board for marine infrastructure at Gothenburg University, and on the board of the Nansen Center in Bergen. Misund holds a PhD in Fisheries Biology from the University of Bergen. Misund is Adjunct Professor on climate effects in the polar regions at the Geophysical institute at the University of Bergen.
Lars Kullerud is the president of the University of the Arctic (UArctic). He has had the pleasure to take part in the journey of developing the Universty of the Arctic (UArctic) since May 2002. UArctic – a “university without walls” – was announced in the 1998 Arctic Council Iqaluit Declaration, and has grown to a membership origination with more than 200 Higher Education Institutions from the circumpolar north and beyond. The members of UArctic carry out concrete cooperation in Education and Research in and for the Arctic through UArctic’s more than 60 Thematic Networks and Institutes as well as other forms of cooperation. Before joining the UArctic team, Lars Kullerud was the Polar Programme Manager for GRID-Arendal, the UN-Environment (UNEP) Key Polar Centre. His academic background is in Precambrian Geology and Isotope Geochemistry, geostatistics, petroleum resource assessments, as well as assessments of the Arctic environment. Lars has authored or co-authored several academic publications on Arctic issues, in environmental sciences and geosciences. Lars Kullerud is Honorary Professor at North Eastern Federal University (Yakutsk) and Honorary Doctor at Northern Arctic Federal University (Arkhangelsk).
Ole Øvretveit is the project manager on the Arctic Science Collaboration and diplomacy project at the Academia Europaea Bergen Hub. He served as Director of Arctic Frontiers for eight years through 2020, building Norwegian and international partnerships for this global scientific conference on economic, societal and environmental sustainable growth in the north. Among his initiatives is the Memorandum of Understanding that he signed on behalf of Arctic Frontiers to enable the international, interdisciplinary and inclusive contributions in this second volume of the Informed Decision making for Sustainability book series. Subsequently, Mr. Øvretveit served as Director of Science to Policy for the Sustainable Development Goals at the University of Bergen, where he received his master’s degree in Comparative Politics. Ole Øvretveit has also provided leadership with Initiative West, a think tank focusing on sustainable ocean economy, societal growth and the green transition from the west coast of Norway.
If the previous covid-affected two years were exceptional, the year that now comes to a close has been no less exceptional. I am thinking of the Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine with all its atrocities, loss of lives and senseless destruction. The effects of the war have been profound on many aspects of academic life, most dramatically for our Ukrainian colleagues who have had to suspend their work, flee their workplace, home and country.
Season’s Greetings from the Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub.
I am happy to have seen many examples of solidarity and various forms of help extended, and hope that strong support from academics and their institutions actively will support Ukraine in rebuilding a strong, democratic research nation when the war eventually is over. This will be a costly but well spent use of resources. Many of our Russian colleagues have been negatively affected as research collaboration between Russian institutions and the rest of Europe have come to a halt, and long-term research programmes have been abruptly terminated. These measures have been necessary, but individual researchers suffer.
Many of these are colleagues who oppose the invasion and are victims of the strong oppression of free thinking imposed by Putin´s regime. Within the remit of our Hub, the high geopolitical tensions have specially affected those countries who are neighbours to Russia and Ukraine, but all countries are affected in various ways, e.g. through reductions of existing research networks, restrictions of research funding due to financial emergencies caused by increased energy prices and prioritization of military spending over other aspects of public spending, such as on research.
The changing geopolitical situation also affects science diplomacy. Science has played an important role in creating a situation of collaboration and lowered tensions in the Arctic, for instance during the cold war. This situation is now significantly worsened by the war in Ukraine. The war has led to a suspension of work in the Arctic Council, and potential losses of critical observations of key importance for monitoring the strong changes in Arctic climate. Our Hub follows this dangerous development with the production of a special report on the fate of climate diplomacy after the war in Ukraine, due next year, and a special side event during the Arctic Frontiers conference on Feb 2, 2023 (see more info elsewhere in this newsletter).
In 2022 the Hub has increased its activities as we have moved out of covid-restrictions, and we hope this will allow for more person-to-person meetings and increased activities in 2023.
AE organised a cross-class Task Force on environment, climate and sustainability issues led by Prof. Verena Winiwarter which was administratively supported by our hub. The report from the Task Force also included a survey of our members and I am happy that we received many good suggestions for the future work on these issues and that many members have volunteered to take part. The AE Board is now setting up a more permanent Task Force, in which it is likely that I will take part. I hope many of the members in our region will take part as plans evolve.
AE-Bergen Hub academic director Eystein Jansen.
We have organized or co-organised several events in 2022, and plans are emerging for 2023. Please share with us any ideas or suggestions you might have for events. One thing we wish to do is to create some events on specific pan-Nordic/Baltic aspects of research and research policy, and and hope to have members outside of Bergen involved in the planning and execution of these.
The Hub has in 2022 entered into an agreement with the Young Academy of Europe to assist in some of their administrative tasks. The Young Academy and the voice of young scholars are critical for the future of European Research, and we are pleased to offer help.
In September we were visited by Sierd Cloething, for many years AE president and an important person for strengthening the Bergen Hub, something we are very grateful for. We could tap into Sierd´s Earth Science expertise and his experiences in Science Advice for Policy through two guest lectures during the visit. Earlier this year we were visited by Abel Prize laurate Laszlo Lovacs, who is also Director of the AE Budapest Hub and had the opportunity to discuss Hub-to-Hub collaboration, an area that AE aims to strengthen in the time to come.
In 2022 we can welcome 47 new members of AE from our region. I would like to wish all new members warmly welcome and hope we can see many of you in our upcoming activities. We still have a way to go to ensure that the leading scholars in our region become AE members, and I would also like to see a more gender balanced and younger membership. I therefore hope that the coming nomination cycle will engage more of our members with these aspects in mind. So please nominate!
I am very pleased that the agreement between AE and The University of Bergen was renewed for 4 more years in 2021. This gives the hub financial and administrative support a nice platform to operate from.
When the year comes to an end, I would specifically like to thank the Hub-staff, Kristin and Nils Olav for their hard work, dedication and support in 2022. I know this is much appreciated across the Academy.
I am a strong supporter of scientific excellence and the key importance of curiosity driven frontier research. The ERC is a remarkably successful and a premier funder of such research. I have had the pleasure of serving this fantastic organisation in the last years through its Scientific Council. In the following 3 years I will extend this work,serving as Vice-President for the Physical Sciences and Engineering Domain of the ERC, which I will combine with my AE duties. Despite all the uncertainty we live through, I do hope that the importance of basic science will rightfully be acknowledged in Europe. Our future as a region will very much depend on the creative minds of scientists who can express and pursue their best ideas. Thus, the two missions of AE and ERC have a lot in common.
Science Diplomacy has been a central part of Arctic relations for many decades, with the 8 Arctic states working together, even during the Cold War. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russo-western relationship has understandably entered an ice-cold phase. What are the foreseeable effects of freezing Science Diplomacy in the Arctic? This is the subject of a report commissioned by the AE-Bergen Hub.
Political scientist Ole Øvretveit on a wintry, if not exactly Arctic day in Bergen.
Political scientist Ole Øvretveit will be writing the report, based on interviews with arctic experts, scientists, and political analysts. Arctic relations will also be the topic of a side event during the Arctic Frontiers conference, titled “The Future of Arctic Science and Science Diplomacy”, taking place on Thursday 2nd February. The event is organised by the AE-Bergen Hub, with co-organisers University of Bergen, Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA) and University of Tromsø as co-organisers.
– “The new Russian openness in the 1990’s, particularly in the wake of Gorbachev’s Murmansk speech, opened new areas for Science Diplomacy in the Arctic. Even though the field of Science Diplomacy never cooled completely during the Cold War, new possibilities opened in the 1990’s, especially in areas like environment and climate. We saw significant rewards from sharing scientific data. Even though other effects of the war in Ukraine are more catastrophic, it is worthwhile investigating the effects of halting this collaboration,” Øvretveit says.
Øvretveit has been interviewing experts on the Arctic for the upcoming report over the last few months and is now in the process of evaluating his findings.
– “I hope that the report will be useful for readers interested in the Arctic, not necessarily just experts on the Arctic. Hopefully, the report will also shed some light on how reduced international Arctic science collaboration has affected our understanding of climate change in the Arctic,” Øvretveit says.
– It has long been my firm belief that the chances of achieving premium research are higher when researchers are allowed to develop their own ideas. Challenging ideas are also more likely to result in new knowledge, says Eystein Jansen, Academic Director of the AE-Bergen Hub, AE trustee and as of 1st January, 2023, Vice-President of the ERC.
Eystein Jansen, Academic Director of the AE-Bergen Hub.
Two months after he takes up the position as ERC Vice-President, Jansen will be celebrating his 70th birthday, but this does not seem to lessen his energy at all. He is an outspoken champion for basic research and cites the focus on basic research in the current ERC guidelines as an important reason for accepting the appointment.
– I have great respect for the ERC. It is of huge importance that the ERC continues to be a flagship for basic research in Europe. This made it easy for me to accept the position of Vice-President and to strive to contribute through that role, Jansen says.
Taking up duties on 1st January 2023, Eystein Jansen will be responsible for ERC activities in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain whilst Prof. Jesper Svejstrup will oversee the Life Sciences domain. The current Vice-President for Social Sciences and Humanities domain, Prof. Eveline Crone, will continue her mandate.
– We’ve seen many times, with the green deal, with health innovations and with new digital solutions, that real innovation is driven by basic and frontier research. I’m very happy that the guidelines of the ERC aligns with this, with a focus on basic and frontier research, says Eystein Jansen.
– Often, politicians seem to favour applied and mission-oriented research. For politicians, this is often considered a more secure path to knowledge. And of course, this research also has its place. But it is not correct that gains are higher from mission-oriented research. For instance, basic research is often more likely to result in patents than applied research does.
Challenging decades ahead
Curiosity has always been a driving force for Eystein Jansen. As for many Norwegians, he’s been fond of the great outdoors from an early age. In fact, it was one of the reasons he was inspired to embark on a career as a climate scientist.
– In my youth, I often wondered how the varied landscapes of Norway had been created. This led me to research the effects of earlier climate periods, and the effect these had on landscape formation. When I started out, climate research was not considered quite the “hot” field that it is now, but by the end of the 1980’s evidence started to mount that CO2 emissions were about to create a new era of climate change, says Eystein Jansen.
The ERC Scientific Council, where Eystein Jansen now serves as Vice-President of the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain.
– In the big picture, can you find reasons for optimism?
– I am an optimist by nature, but I recognize that the coming decades will be extremely challenging. Turning evidence-based decisions into actions, as well as adapting to new realities, will be of the utmost importance, says the AE-Bergen Hub director.
Prior to his appointment as ERC Vice-President, Eystein Jansen was known as the Founding Director for the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, established in 2000. Jansen stayed on as Director until 2013, building the Bjerknes Centre into a large multidisciplinary climate research centre, now ranking as internationally renowned.
– In Academia Europaea, you are both a Hub Director and a Trustee. What challenges do you see for AE in the coming years?
– Unless the pandemic takes new forms again, one of the main threats, both to society and to science in the coming years, will be the war in Ukraine. Whatever solutions may come, the war will have consequences for many years. It will affect science particularly in the fields of international cooperation and science diplomacy. Both these areas are cornerstones in the work of Academia Europaea.
– For the AE-Bergen Hub, Arctic issues and research is a strategic priority. Traditionally, the Arctic has been a good example of an area with low barriers to cooperation between Russia and the rest of the world. In the short term, this will now be very difficult.
– Working together with SAPEA, Academia Europaea have been investigating ways to achieve a systemic approach to the energy transition in Europe. Energy has now become a part of warfare, putting extra pressure on energy policy. In my view, these situations increase the need for evidence-based policy, and for courageous politicians.
In the coming years, the AE-Bergen Hub will have to share Eystein Jansen’s capacities with the ERC.
– I will not have any direct influence on project grants from my position as Vice-President, so the position is maybe not quite as powerful as some people would imagine. My main responsibility will be in appointing members of evaluation panels, ensuring that they are all experts in their fields, Eystein Jansen says.
The work of the Academia Europaea Task Force on Environment, Climate and Sustainability over the last year, was presented during a plenary session during the Building Bridges Annual Conference. Among the suggestions of the Task Force is for AE to set up a Permanent Working Group on Environment, Sustainability and Climate (PWGESC).
The Task Force recommends that the Permanent Working Group (PWGESC) should consist of a core group of less than 10 people, two to three members per topic.
The Task Force has been chaired by Verena Winiwarter, who also presented the work at the Annual Conference. Deputy Chair has been Poul Holm with Peter Wagner as a member for Class A1, Eystein Jansen and Nebojsa Nakicenovic as members for Class B, and Patricia Holm and Jane Hill as members from Class C.
AE-Bergen and Hub Manager Kristin Bakken have facilitated the work of the Task Force, but further administrative resources will be needed for the Permanent Working Group.
– The Task Force sees the need for a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach. They suggest the topics for the Permanent Working Group to not be pre-framed by the specialties of members, Peter Wagner said during the presentation.
– The Permanent Task Force should also seek cooperation and communication with other Academies, seeking to not duplicate efforts done by others, but rather cooperate, Task Force Chair Verena Winiwarter said.
– There are many links between topics important for sustainability issues, such as food and energy. The interdisciplinary nature of the issue indicates the Permanent Working Group should be formed across the different classes of the Academy, a thinking that also should inform future events, Jane Hill added.
The Task Force recommends that the Permanent Working Group (PWGESC) should consist of a core group of less than 10 people, two to three members per topic.
From the survey conducted by the Task Force, it is clear that AE members want AE to provide a distinctive, yet interdisciplinary approach, linking climate change, ecosystem transitions and human society transitions, with inputs across the four classes of AE.
Activities suggested by members were research-based policy reports, public debates, and expert hearings.
The Academic Director of The Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub, Prof. Eystein Jansen is elected Vice President of the European Research Council (ERC).
Eystein Jansen Academic Director is elected Vice President of the European Research Council (ERC). Photo: ERC.
Eystein Jansen will be responsible for the ERC activities in the Physical Sciences and Engineering domain from January 1th 2023, replacing Prof. Andrzej Jajszczyk. From the same date, Prof. Jesper Svejstrup will oversee the Life Sciences domain, replacing Prof. Nektarios Tavernarakis.
Eystein Jansen holds a PhD in Earth Science from the University of Bergen, where he has been a Professor of palaeoclimatology since 1993. Jansen was the founding director of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, a world-leading centre on climate dynamics, which he led for 13 years. Jansen is presently the Academic Director for the Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub and is vice director for the interdisciplinary SapienCE Centre on Early Sapiens behaviour at the University of Bergen.
Author on 2 IPCC reports
Jansen is a member of Academia Europaea, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences and the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research. He was the coordinating lead author in the 4th (2007) and lead author in the 5th (2013) Assessment Reports of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Jansen was in 2019 awarded the Brøgger prize for lifelong contributions to geological sciences and the Meltzer prize for excellence in research.
His research has primarily dealt with the influence of changes in ocean circulation on climate and on natural climate changes of the past and present, with key contributions to understanding the evolution of ice ages and abrupt climate change. 2014-2019 he is the principal investigator of an ERC Synergy Grant, ice2ice, on abrupt climate changes. He has also served as a member of ERC’s panel for Advanced Grants.
NORCE scientist and working group member and co-author on the SAPEA report “Biodegradability of plastics in the open environment”, Gunhild Bødtker, started her presentation at the recent Avfallsforsk webinar “Marine Littering in Norwegian Fjords” by saying that “biodegradable plastics have some uses that can be a part of the solution, but it shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for littering, and it is not a quick fix”.
NORCE scientist Gunhild Bødtker presented at the recent webinar.
The opening sentiment of Gunhild Bødtker is certainly in line with the SAPEA report itself. Bødtker further suggested that one of uses for biodegradable plastics to be explored further, should be uses with high potential of loss, such as fishing nets, buoys, and lines, or where wear during use is inevitable, such as with tyres. In the latter case, the wear results in microplastics, a further reason to explore the use of biodegradable plastics in items that to a large degree abrases during use. Even as biodegradable plastics can have benefits in these areas, one of the main mottos concerning the use of plastics continues to be “reduce, reuse, recycle”.
The Norce scientist also explained the results of her recent experiment at the Bergen Aquarium. In a tank at the aquarium, she studied the biodegradability of some specific kinds of biodegradable plastics in a marine environment similar to the sea near Bergen in Norway. A particularly interesting finding was that water temperature seems to be less important for biodegradation rates in seawater that previously thought. The cold, Norwegian seawater proved to be as effective for biodegradation, as the South Asian waters has been found to be in previous studies. More about this on the Built2biodegradewebsite, as well as in a recent interview with Gunhild Bødtker on the AE-Bergen Hub website.
One of the main mottos concerning the use of plastics continues to be “reduce, reuse, recycle”.
With the main topic of the recent webinar being “Marine Littering in Norwegian Fjords”, several of the presentations focused on the clean-up project “Rein Hardangerfjord”. Here, what originated from a smaller fjord clean up-project, resulted in the monumental ambition to clean up the entire Hardangerfjord in western Norway, one of the country’s most scenic fjords.