Green Initiatives and Challenges in the Arctic

The AE-Bergen Hub is one of the co-organizers of the webinar: Arctic Marine Operations and Shipping: Green Initiatives and Challenges.

Major economies aim to be carbon neutral by 2050. Such an ambition implies an almost full transition away from using fossil fuels to power the transport sector, including maritime transport. How will the maritime Arctic be influenced by global responses to climate change?

What measures are needed to make Arctic marine operations and shipping more sustainable?

What measures are needed to make Arctic marine operations and shipping more sustainable?

The webinar addresses maritime transport in the Arctic and will provide insights into a complex set of issues: the Arctic’s policy framework for marine safety and environmental protection; indigenous and conservation perspectives; green ship technology; marine infrastructure; and, what measures are needed to make Arctic marine operations and shipping more sustainable.

OrganizersAcademia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub (AE-Bergen), Pacific EnvironmentThe University of Bergen and Arctic Frontiers

Program: The program includes two keynotes followed by a moderated panel-debate with keynote speakers and panelists. The panelists will all give brief introductions between the keynotes and the debate. There will be opportunities for registered participants to ask questions in the debate by chat. Biographies of the contributors can be downloaded here.

Participation: The webinar is free and open to all. But participation requires registration. Before the webinar starts, you must log in to the Arctic Frontiers conference platform. Press a green button “Join as participant” in the top right corner. If you participated in the Arctic Frontiers 2021 conference, please choose the “LOG IN” option; If not, please select the “SIGN UP” option (a two-step process, which will allow attending future Arctic Frontiers events). The registration is open, and we recommend login/sign up ahead of the event.

The webinar will be streamed in the auditorium (enter the door from the lobby). It will be possible to ask participants questions on the auditorium’s live wall, which will be activated during the event.

Should you have any practical questions regarding the conference platform, please contact Alexey Pavlov ( at Arctic Frontiers.

When: 7th of April 2021, CET: 18.00-20.00 (Norway) and AKDT: 08.00-10.00 (Alaska)

Chair:  Jim Gamble, Arctic Programme Director of Pacific Environment

ModeratorEystein Jansen, Professor at the University of Bergen, the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research and Academic Director of Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub


Lawson Brigham, Wilson Fellow, Polar Institute of the Wilson Center
Challenges and policies for Arctic marine operations & shipping (20 minutes)

Morten Mejlænder-Larsen, Director of Arctic Operations and Technology, DNV
The green transition for arctic shipping (20 minutes)


Hege Økland, CEO at Maritime CleanTech
Green global shipping, status on technological aspects (5-7 minutes introduction)

Arild Moe, Senior Research Fellow, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute
Russian Arctic Shipping: Commercial and political drivers (5-7 minutes introduction)

Mellisa Johnson, Executive Director, Bering Sea Elders Group,
Community perspectives on Arctic shipping (5-7 minutes introduction)

Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance,
Sustainable Arctic Shipping – priorities from an environmental group perspective (5-7 minutes introduction)


Christmas Greetings from Academic Director, professor Eystein Jansen

christmas greeting

Although some of our planned activities were postponed or cancelled in 2020, we are eager to reinsert some in the plans for 2021, writes academic director, professor Eystein Jansen.

As we approach the end of 2020 and look ahead into the next year, we are acutely aware that we are living under very special circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally affected many aspects of our lives, our work, and the Bergen Hub. It has impeded our ability to reach out and integrate academic scholarship and knowledge with society, which is the heart and raison d´être for our Hub.

Although there is hope for a different situation as mass vaccination is implemented during the first half of next year, we foresee that the pandemic will influence a large part of 2021, and likely influence academic life in years to come. As digital forms of exchange and communication has replaced physical meetings, and shown that it is possible to do without many travels, we will probably converge to a less physical and more digital way of conducting our activities, or hybrids between the two.

Our environmental and climatic footprint will be reduced, but it comes at a cost, as in-person meetings, networking and informal and social exchanges is key to our life as academics. I am most worried about the impact on young researchers, who need to meet and be inspired by others to build up independent careers and scientific pathways. Hence, when programming Hub activities in the post-pandemic era, we should ensure that we strengthen our capacity to support the careers of the next generation of eminent researchers. Things will be different, but we need to ensure that we stick to our mission.

The pandemic raises many questions and gives rich and novel data sets for many investigations of our societies, including health care systems, governance, scientific prioritizations – to name some. It is already clear that many countries considered to be very resilient to disruptions, and with seemingly strong health care systems have not lived up to such expectations. Others have handled the pandemic surprisingly well, despite having health care systems considered to be vulnerable prior to the pandemic. The evidence now at hand underscores the necessity of a renewed discussion on the role of science advice for policy, and the role of politics vs expert opinions in decision making in crises.

Through the SAPEA consortium our Hub nominated experts to the evaluation conducted by the EU Commission´s science advice mechanism (SAM) on pandemic preparedness. You can read more about this in the interview with Professor Rebecca Cox at the AE-Bergen website.

The evidence now at hand underscores the necessity of a renewed discussion on the role of science advice for policy, and the role of politics vs expert opinions in decision making in crises.

It is important to recognize and communicate that the solution to the pandemic through vaccination has been founded on long-term blue-sky research. The successful development of novel vaccine technologies, such as those based on mRNA, is a result of bottom-up basic science projects awarded to the best talents with the best ideas, e.g., from ERC.

It was thus disappointing to see the lack of priority given to frontier research in the EU Council proposal for the EU 7-year multiannual budget. Only after a strong mobilisation from the research community and friends in the European Parliament did we avoid a very negative development in the funding of our best research talents through the ERC. Yet thousands of completely brilliant research ideas will continue to remain unfunded, constituting a severe loss for our societies. Hence, an important part of the activities of our Hub will be to establish arenas for disseminating these aspects and promote the key role of fundamental research. We will be happy to receive ideas for how to do this in the Nordic/Baltic region and will engage with Young Academies in this endeavour.

Although some of our planned activities were postponed or cancelled in 2020, we are eager to reinsert some in the plans for 2021. We have plans for events on green transport during the Arctic Frontiers conference and the Sustainable Development Conference, both in February 2021 (stay tuned), and for a physical meeting of our Advisory Board and Steering Groups when the situation a

llows for this, hopefully in the spring of 2021.

We welcome the new AE Hubs in Budapest and Munich and look forward to engaging in Hub-to-Hub activities in the coming years. The Bergen Hub has established an entity to enable us to take part in external projects, such as in Horizon Europe. We look forward to being a partner in various projects in Horizon Europe in the years to come.

An important aspect is the current nomination cycle for new members of AE. If we are to increase our impact it is important that we attract the most active scholars across all fields. Please think about your colleagues and networks and identify candidates that should be nominated. We can clearly do with a better gender balance and a larger and younger base of members to ensure that the leading scholars in our region have a home in our Academy.

I will also use this opportunity to congratulate Marja Makarow on her appointment as AE president. Marja also serves on our Advisory Board and we look forward to our future collaboration.

Best wishes for a healthy Christmas and a rewarding new year!

– Many of the lessons from Covid-19 can be applied to future epidemics

Professor Rebecca Cox, head of the Influenza Centre in Bergen, has been an expert consultant for the Independent Expert Report “Improving pandemic preparedness and management”, commissioned by the EU. She was nominated by the Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub (AE-Bergen) for the role. 

Professor Rebecca Cox, head of the Influenza Centre in Bergen, has been an expert consultant for the Independent Expert Report “Improving pandemic preparedness and management”.

Professor Rebecca Cox, head of the Influenza Centre in Bergen. Photo: Kim E. Andreassen

As part of the EU’s Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM), AE-Bergen regularly nominates experts to contribute to various reports, including evidence review reports from the consortium ‘Science Advice for Policy by European Academies’ – SAPEA. The recently published independent expert report on the response to and the lessons from the Covid-19 outbreak, points to several recommendations to improve pandemic response in the future. We asked Professor Rebecca Cox to sum up some of the challenges in working on the report, as well as to comment on some of the recommendations given.     

You can download the report here.

 Covid-19 is an ongoing crisis. What were the challenges in evaluating an ongoing situation? 

– The main challenges were the ever-increasing scientific evidence and rapidly evolving epidemic with the second wave of the pandemic in Europe which required a thorough review of the scientific literature including preprints. The question posed by the EU were complex and challenging and they required a rapid answer due to the importance of a rapid response for the continent. 

– The title of the report is “Improving pandemic preparedness and management”. How prepared were Europe and the rest of the world for this pandemic and what will we learn in preparing for the next one? 

– Generally, a number of EU countries were well prepared for an influenza pandemic but not for a such a serious coronavirus pandemic. The challenges of the ongoing pandemic were much greater than with an influenza pandemic where we have antivirals, pandemic vaccine pre-approved for manufacturing and of course pre-existing immunity. In 2009 influenza pandemic some of the most vulnerable people the elderly had pre-existing immunity which prevented severe infection

– I think we have learnt many important lessons in how we can combat a future pandemic using good hygiene and social distancing. Clearly many countries were not prepared for a pandemic of this severity and there will be may lessons to be learned which can also be applied to future epidemics. 

– What areas of this report have been of particular interest to you? 

– I am most interested in the way Covid-19 has changed our society so drastically in 2020 and how we can harness the lessons learned to build a continent that is better prepared for the next epidemic and pandemic. The emphasis on equitable and fair access to health and social care across the EU and strength of public health responses and particularly the versatility the EU has shown in collaboration, partnership and funding possibilities for research. 

– Which of the final recommendations in the report do you find be the most important ones?  

– I think all of the final recommendations are very important to guide how we should live with a preparedness for future epidemics and pandemics, strengthening of public health system and collaboration across the EU: 

– What place do you see for UiB in upcoming Covid-19 research? 

– UiB has a very important role in Covid-19 research with the newly opened pandemic centre. UiB hosts many projects looking at many of the important aspects of the pandemic from population-based studies in the community, in health care and social care settings to the psychological and economic impact of the pandemicRebecca Cox says.  

She is also conducting a major Covid-19 research project herself, and leads the Bergen COVID-19 research group which is following the outbreak from the first cases and also through the coming waves of the pandemicThis study has recruited over 1700 health care workers and patients (both in and outpatients and their household members) to study the infection risk in healthcare institutions, families and in the community.  

– Our ongoing work is looking at the duration of immunity after infection, characterising how disease severity influences immune responses and investigating the long-term complications after COVID-19. 

Rebecca Cox is the head of the Influenza Centre in Bergen.

Future European Research Policy

An Academia Europaea statement of principles for the Future of Research and innovation policy of the European Union – Forward from 2020.

Academia Europaea wishes to express our strong support for the further development of the European research area and in particular the European Research Council. We express our concern about the July 2020 Council conclusions[1] and the budgetary decision on Research and innovation.

We are of the clear opinion, that ‘armaggedon’ is not on the horizon. Nevertheless, we share the worries expressed by our sister Academy organisations and other related organisations. Member States and the European Parliament should not see research funding as simple tap, to turn on and off when things get difficult. Political short-termism puts at risk the capacity to deliver the essential longer-term research and innovation gain. We are of the strong opinion that the various extant threats we collectively face and the as yet unrealised and to an extent unknown consequential impacts, now more than ever require a steady hand and an increased and substantial active dialogue between policy makers, political agencies and the research and innovation communities. Such an approach will ensure that Europe can maintains its capacity to deliver research and innovation in an effective and prioritised way at whatever level of budget is agreed.

Over past decades, the EU has with the support of the member states and its citizens, made enormous and positive advances in research training and Innovation policy and through consistent increased financing, delivered significant improvements in collaborative research capacity and research excellence across all phases of the research spectrum. The establishing of the European Research Area and its proposed renewal[2] and within it, the creation of Erasmus, Marie Curie, The European Research Council (ERC) and Framework/Horizon programmes, have all severally and collectively made real and significant contributions to our European research, training and innovation capacity. There has been a positive but perhaps unimagined scale of stimulation of collaborative research efforts and cross -cultural community development. These impacts can be seen through the many direct and indirect benefits to European Society across very diverse areas that have flowed out of these very large investments of public money. However, we must not lose sight of the ongoing reality: that even now the majority of investments into research and innovation are those made at national level and which respond to national priorities and communities. It is vital that all member states and those states associated fully to EU programmes continue to see EU level programmatic support as additional and complimentary and not as replacements for their own sound and viable national funding programmes.

The Academia Europaea is pleased to note in particular, that the development of the ERC has perhaps been the singular policy innovation with the highest recognition and impact on the landscape of European research. This model institution must be nurtured and further developed for future generations.

The Academia Europaea now takes this opportunity to re-state in a positive way, some of the underlying and critical policy objectives that the next budgetary frame should be focussed to deliver. Whatever the final political outcomes are in terms of budgetary decisions, these priorities must stay as guiding tenets to inform the future, provide the community with a balanced and equitable distribution of resources and condition the content and priorities for research and innovation that support European societal needs. We should all agree that the overall objective of publicly funded, collective European Research and Innovation actions must be to contribute towards delivery of resilience, security and sustainable economic prosperity for all of European society and in addition, must contribute towards the most urgent priorities that underpin a sustainable future for our common home.

We see the following as guiding tenets for EU level research and innovation policy in the next financial framework:

  • Ensure the most efficient and effective application of public resources in support of the whole chain of research and innovation for the longer-term.
  • Ensure that support for future generations is deployed through the most effective training; education and research support schemes and in particular addresses regional inequalities of opportunity.
  • Ensure a continuing effort to put European fundamental research capacity at the global forefront of excellence. Fully support the ERC to target and develop the best in terms of research and innovation capacity and support those in less research-intensive regions through relevant channels to achieve the best.
  • Focus the priorities for EU research and innovation policy on effective and efficient knowledge and innovation activity that responds to future societal needs and on the delivery of an anticipative capacity that can mitigate future risks in a timely, equitable and sustainable way.

The Academia Europaea feels confident that the institutions of the European Union will collectively recognise that whatever the detailed budgetary debates may be, a collective and substantial EU -level investment in common research, education and training public investment is beneficial for the whole of Europe. We therefore strongly urge Member States, to take real steps to achieve effective co-ordination through co-operation of their national investments in R & I with the EU level investment. Effective implementation of the new European Research Area policy and programme is a priority. The AE wishes to emphasise, that the ERC and its support instruments having achieved an unparalleled global recognition as a guarantee for excellence in research innovation must see the resources allocated to the instruments of the ERC at the Horizon 2020 levels – as a minimum.

Published under the authority of the Board of trustees of the Academia Europaea
21 October 2020


Lecture on Plan S and the European Research Council

Open access is highlighted as the new opportunity to make research publications available to all interested parties, regardless of expensive subscriptions. In Plan S, the Research Council of Norway has demanded full and immediate open publication for announcements from 2021. At the same time, this policy is accused of being a threat to academic freedom, scientific quality and the rights of researchers. Why is the debate over Open Access and Plan S so polarized? And does it look the same in all subject areas?

This debate meeting was arranged on 6 October 2020 by the Research Ethics Committee at the Norwegian Academy of Sciences.

Making the transition to sustainable food

The shift to a more sustainable food system is inevitable. Here’s how to make it happen.


Europe’s top scientists agree that a radical change is coming in how we produce and distribute food, to ensure food security and deliver healthy diets for all.

Now a new report from SAPEA lays out the social science evidence on how that transition can happen in an inclusive, just and timely way.

The Evidence Review Report ‘A sustainable food system for the European Union’ provides an evidence base for the scientific opinion of the European Commission’s Chief Scientific Advisors. It was written by a multidisciplinary group of leading scientists, nominated by academies across Europe.

Based on the best available evidence and supported by a detailed systematic review, the report concludes that the key steps towards the new model are not only to reduce food waste and to change our consumption patterns — but also to recontextualise how we think about food in the first place.

Professor Peter Jackson, the chair of the working group that wrote the report, said:

“Food is an incredibly complex system, with social, economic and ecological components. Yet, it contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and plays a key role in driving climate change. The food system is responsible for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates the annual financial cost of wasted food to be €900 billion in economic costs and an additional €800 billion in social costs. That’s why ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option.

“Our report doesn’t stop at highlighting the problems, which are now widely recognised. It also provides a range of evidence-based examples about how the transition to a sustainable food system can happen.”

Making sense of science – 04.11.2019

The global challenges, like climate change, loss of biodiversity and migration, are very complex. At the same time, the research areas are characterised by uncertainty and conflicts. How does politicians find the best available knowledge? How do we create good road maps for science for policy?

The science academies of the EU has recently published the report Making Sense of Science, on how scientific knowledge can be a good fundament for policies in times of complexitity and uncertainty.

What characterises effective research based policy making in the EU? Can the experiences from EU be used in Norwegian conditions?

Se the presentations and discussions here:


Hvordan får vi den beste og mest treffsikre politikken?

Mange gjør det annerledes enn Norge. Hvorfor?

Eystein Jansen er akademisk direktør for Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub.

Eystein Jansen er akademisk direktør for Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub.

Av Eystein Jansen, akademisk direktør for Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub.

Vi lever i en tid med mye usikkerhet. Det er vanskelig å skille fakta fra feilinformasjon, og internett gjør at det er vanskelig å skille mellom forskjellige oppfatninger som kan bruke forskning som argument for ulike politikkalternativ.

Særlig er dette merkbart i miljø- og klimapolitikken, i helsepolitikken, mat-og landbrukspolitikken og i spørsmål knyttet til bioteknologi. Spørsmålet blir da om vi har et system som greier å sortere fakta fra skeivinformasjon og om politikerne har et system rundt seg der de får mest mulig uavhengig informasjon før beslutninger tas.

Ofte hører vi at beslutninger er tatt på bakgrunn av faglige råd, men hvor uavhengig er disse? I Norge har departementene sine faginstanser, ofte forvaltningsinstitutt og lignende som brukes aktivt. I mange andre land har man kommet til at dette ikke gir tilstrekkelig uavhengighet i komplekse spørsmål, og bruker vitenskapsakademiene for å sikre uavhengige prosesser for å frembringe faktagrunnlag for politikkutviklingen.

EU har opprettet SAM (Scientific Advice Mechanism) for dette forholdet, og har en gruppe uavhengige vitenskapelige rådgivere som gir faglige innspill til politikk. Rådgiverne kan på eget initiativ eller på oppdrag fra EU-kommisjonen be vitenskapsakademiene i Europe om å utvikle et faktagrunnlag på et felt som er uklart og som trenger politikk.

SAPEA MASOS frontpage

SAPEAs nyligste rapport, “Making sense of science”, om tilgangen på forskningsbasert politikkrådgivning.

Dette skjer i prosjektet SAPEA, der de europeiske akademiene er medlemmer. Disse, som består av fremragende forskere, er helt uavhengige av myndighetene, og faren for bindinger bli mindre.

Systemet har fått frem faggrunnlag for politikk på en rekke områder. Slik får man et uavhengig faglig grunnlag, som de vitenskapelige rådgiverne kan bruke inn mot politikkutformingen. Systemet ser ut til å virke!

Burde ikke Norge etablere noe tilsvarende? I Finland har man nå utviklet en lignende ordning, med gode resultat. Politikken blir bedre, og den får større legitimitet med et slikt system. Hva holder oss tilbake?

På møtet “Forskningsbasert politikk?” (Facebook) på Litteraturhuset i Oslo den 4. november får vi høre fra europeiske eksperter om hvordan politikkutforming kan bli mest mulig i tråd med faglig kunnskap og være vitenskapsbasert, og vi får høre om hvordan norske akademikere og politikere tenker om den norske situasjonen og annerledesheten her i landet.



The Bergen Hub Director: Collaboration on marine, maritime and polar affairs.

“We live at times of confusion whereby scientific knowledge as a basis for policies is under threat. A hub like this can be one avenue for disseminating research based information.” Eystein Jansen is the new Academic Director of Academia Europaea in the Bergen Knowledge Hub.

Eystein Jansen holds his position as professor at the Department of Earth Science, having previously led the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research for 13 years. He is still active in the centre, as well as in the new Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) at University of Bergen.

As the academic director of the Hub, Eystein Jansen is responsible for establishing links between academics and society in areas of societal relevance and interest. In Bergen the focus is on marine, maritime and polar affairs, including the Nordic societal model, and energy and sustainability with a Nordic perspective.

Eystein Jansen is the new Academic Director of Academia Europaea in the Bergen Knowledge Hub

Activities for the Nordic members and policy holders in Europe
Working with the hub means production of scientific plans and programming, leading to activities and events, for the AE members in the Nordic region.

“We aim to establish activities in support of science advice, whereby independent academic insights are used to help develop policies both in Europe and in Norway,” says Eystein Jansen.

In june 2018 the first local meeting was held. And soon there will be events involving Europe´s marine research policies and issues in the transformation to renewable energy supply.

Nordic input for the European Commission
So far there is no specified time limit for the Hub. The Hub is a small organisation with a limited budget, so the capacity is limited.  However, Jansen is optimistic.

“As long as we are successful in developing the Hub, and enjoy ourselves doing it, we can go on for several years. I hope that within one or two years we have established ourselves as a hub for collaboration in the science advice mechanisms of the European Commission, also in collaboration with national academies in Norway and the Nordic region,” the new director states.