Rethinking Arctic collaboration

The AE-Bergen report «The Future of Science Diplomacy in the Arctic» will see it’s continuation as the project now called «Rethinking Arctic collaboration» has been awarded a grant of 400 000 NOK from UArctic, for further research on the topic. Several partners will work together with AE-Bergen for the continued project. The initial meeting of the partners took place on November 29th.

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 now available from the AE-Bergen website. The grant from UArctic will secure the continuity of the project, as well as open new avenues of research and new partnerships.

Representatives of the partners were present at the initial, digital meeting on November 29th. The partners – Alfred Wegner Institute, Germany, Nord University, Norway, and Dartmouth College, USA, were represented at the meeting by Dr. Volker Rachhold of AW Institute, Frode Nilsen of Nord University and Melody Brown Burkins of Dartmouth College. From the Steering committee, Lise Øvreås, Professor and President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, attended. From AE-Bergen Hub, Eystein Jansen, Kristin Bakken and Nils Olav Sæverås attended. Further partners are The Macdonald-Laurier Institute and the international NGO International Center of Reindeer Husbandry.

Ice-cold relationship

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 turbulente times. And finally, what may become the characteristics of the future Arctic science collaboration architecture”.

The first report from Academia Europaea Bergen on «The Future of Science Diplomacy in the Arctic» was published in the autumn of 2023, and is available from our website

International experts

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

– First and foremost, 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 both broader and sharper perspectives on this issue, Ole Øvretveit says.

– 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 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.