UArctic celebrates 25 years since the signing of the Iqaluit Declaration of the Arctic Council in the UArctic Assembly, the annual meeting of all its members, in Québec City, Canada on 22-26 May 2023. 


By Outi Snellman, Secretary General, UArctic


The Iqaluit Declaration established UArctic. What initially was a network of universities to connect the East and the West in an inclusive way is now a thriving, huge organization linking the North and the South, the small and the big, in a global effort to address the largest challenges facing humanity.

Twenty-five years ago, the Circumpolar North was exhilarated about the signing of the Iqaluit Declaration, not only because of UArctic but also because of a fundamental belief that the Arctic nations and its various organizations can unite their efforts for the good of the environment, for the good of the peoples, and for peace. Today UArctic as well as the Arctic’s inhabitants are faced with an entirely different, almost dystopian, reality. A massive rift again dominates the relations between the East and the West in the Arctic, and huge environmental problems, climate change in particular, are nearing tipping points.

While the Arctic states have made progress on Indigenous rights over the last quarter-century, there still remain critical issues of political debate across the region. It is important that education institutions create meaningful partnerships with Indigenous peoples’ organizations and play a constructive role in these discussions.

At times like this, we still need to celebrate our successes and the 25 years of human connections in research and education in the Circumpolar North. With almost 200 member institutions, UArctic now has the brain power to really make a difference. Almost a thousand researchers participating in the UArctic Thematic Networks and Institutes and as UArctic Chairs – there should be no room for hopelessness!

Let’s first celebrate and then roll up our sleeves and get to work. It is not too late.