Friday's science program opened with plenaries from two presidents of Arctic science organizations. Susan Barr from the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) introduced her organization in the context of Arctic science cooperation: how IASC is organized, how it contributes to Arctic research, and what it aims to accomplish in the framework of Arctic cooperation. The International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA) president Peter Sköld continued with a presentation on Arctic indigenous peoples' health and how assimilation and even climate change have contributed to changes for better and for worse.
The last part of the Congress Science Section included presentations on Arctic economies and the priorities of Finland’s upcoming Arctic Council chairmanship. Aleksi Härkönen, Finland's Ambassador for Arctic Affairs, emphasized that the future is now, and we must prepare accordingly by working together with our neighbours in the Arctic despite the current geopolitical shifts. As Finland takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017, education will be in the highlight. Ambassador Härkönen also welcomed the proposal for organizing the next UArctic Congress in Finland during the country's chairmanship period 2017-2019.
Tero Vauraste, Vice-Chair of the Arctic Economic Council, focused on trade and value chains in the Arctic. He pointed out that if we want to add value and develop the Arctic, we must be linked to global value chains and the opportunities they offer; in other words, we need a broader perspective. Using examples from tourism, transportation and trade, he shed light to the complex interplay of interests of different actors in the Arctic.
The two presentations and the Congress science sessions formed the basis for the concluding panel discussion on future research needs and policy priorities. The panelists Sergey Aplonov (Pro-rector, SPbU), Diane Hirshberg (Professor, UAA), Evon Peter (Vice-Chancellor, UAF), Aleksi Härkönen and Tero Vauraste recognized the importance of developing human resources and increasing the engagement between the different players in the Arctic. Education and capacity development are crucial for the sustainable future of the North, as well as increasing the use of science and research findings in policy-making. The panelists agreed that more engagement is needed between the different players and stakeholders - between science, governments and business. The panelists also called for better communication between different stakeholders, and clearer communication from the scientific community on their research results in order to be useful for future policy development. As the problems facing the Arctic are interconnected, multidisciplinarity is also key in solving various issues. The panelists also emphasized the importance of presence in discussion arenas. Although growing in recent years, we could still increase the presence and engagement of indigenous peoples, and as Arctic countries have more meaningful presence and visibility globally through joint governmental efforts.