When I was writing my letter for the 2022 Shared Voices Magazine, Arctic cooperation had just suffered a big blow. I concluded the letter by stating that “the future cannot exist without education and research cooperation. The future of the Arctic needs to be handled by coming generations, and it is up to the present generation to make their task as manageable as possible.”
By Lars Kullerud, President, UArctic
The future of the Arctic depends on our capability to work together in matters that are of common interest. I am writing this letter at the end of March 2023, just when the Norwegian chairship of the Arctic Council has announced their priorities for 2023-2025. Collaboration in the Arctic will continue - it must continue - so that the global community is better prepared for the impacts of the changing climate, but obviously it will not be the same as before.
Norway’s chairship bases their national priorities on the first Arctic Council Strategic Plan, adopted in Reykjavik in 2021. There are four priority topics: the oceans, climate and environment, sustainable economic development, and people in the North. In addition, the program includes the cross-cutting topics Arctic youth and Arctic Indigenous peoples. The chairship program also emphasizes the need to strengthen the scientific basis for management of the environment and activities in the Arctic, as well as the importance of including local and traditional knowledge in the Arctic Council’s work.
These same priorities and topics will also form the framework for the Arctic Congress Bodø 2024. The Congress brings together three organizations and their events: UArctic, the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA), and High North Dialogue. Hosted by Nord University and Nordland Research Institute in Bodø, Norway on May 29-June 2, 2024, the event features a common Congress program, as well as each organization's individual Assembly and business meetings.
Since 2018, UArctic Congresses have adopted the themes and priorities of the Arctic Council chairship program, and they have also been organized in partnership with the chairship program in the country chairing the Arctic Council. We are proud to follow that tradition with the Arctic Congress Bodø 2024 with our partners. By joining forces and bringing together the expertise of three key Arctic organizations, the event will be a true showcase of Arctic education and research cooperation. It will also be a fantastic opportunity for academics and students from different fields, the present and coming generations, to find new inspiration and new collaborators.
As I said back in 2022, “the future cannot exist without education and research cooperation.” Faced with large-scale global challenges, this statement becomes more and more urgent every year. With the ongoing energy challenges, the world is being driven to implement the desired green shift faster than anyone would have dreamed of two years ago. This is of course welcome, but it will also create new challenges in the Arctic through the increased demand on resources and the resulting need to quickly implement e.g. windfarms and new mining, all with their own potential conflicts.
Together with our members and partners, UArctic will continue to create and share knowledge on issues that are of relevance to the Arctic and its peoples, as well as knowledge that benefits the global community in their efforts to ensure a sustainable future for the whole planet.