Paul Bowles, a Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia in Canada, says that the funding provided by north2north has been invaluable and has allowed him to further understand the importance of infrastructure for the social, economic and cultural well-being of people in the North and Arctic.
"The visit to Sisimiut and to the settlement of Itilleq close by took my understanding to a new level. Every type of physical infrastructure including energy, water, transportation, schools, health clinics, and business premises provided large challenges in the face of uncertain weather conditions, winter sea ice and the large costs involved in construction and maintenance. Added to these physical challenges are the social and cultural challenges associated with small populations, limited social and geographical mobility, and integration into larger national and global political economies."
Bowels also participated as an Instructor in the PhD field school held in at ARTEK in Sisimiut under the auspices of the Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility. He had two main takeaways from this experience; the multidisciplinary nature of the group and the sharing of knowledge between instructors and students.
"Too often we work in disciplinary silos and the chance is missed to engage in dialogue with others working on similar subject areas but coming at them from different disciplinary backgrounds. Add to this the variety of countries represented and you can quickly get a sense of the rich diversity which facilitated genuine opportunities to learn from each other. Certainly my understanding of concepts such as the Social Licence to Operate and Free Prior and Informed Consent were greatly enhanced by interactions with those trained in law, anthropology, engineering and business studies."
Karin Buhmann, a Professor at Copenhagen Business School and co-lead of the Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibilities, said that the north2north grant allowed her to engage in a series of outreach meetings and prepare Thematic Network activities in collaboration with Ilisimatusarfik.
"One of the key activities set out in our Thematic Network project description is engaging with non academics to acquire first hand insight of their perceptions and wishes for a sustainable Arctic future. The north2north grant allowed me to meet with school pupils and high school students in Qeqertarsuaq and Aasiaat in Western Greenland with school instructors and international researchers working on sustainability from a base at Kangerlussuaq. Outreach is an important source of input for our Thematic Network to develop educational outputs and share knowledge. It helps us anchor the academic outputs and knowledge in the local context and hopefully make it useful to those it targets, both in the short and the long term.
The north2north grant contributed to my participation in the conference at Ilisimatusarfik on Public Participation in Arctic Extractive Industries organized by the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre on 17 and 18 October, during which I made a presentation on the role of public soft-law guidance standards like OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This presentation was for the Greenlandic public’s participation in identification of potential risks and benefits from extractive industries and facilitated a workshop session, and to take part in meetings with companies in Nuuk working on CSR. Overall, the north2north mobility support was significant in gaining input for our Thematic Network".
George Valmov of Pskov State University, Russia says, "During the stay, I was able to meet with colleagues from Copenhagen Business School, Aalborg University, University of Lapland, University of Northern British Columbia, and the University of the Faroe Islands to discuss our recent research efforts and activities as well as potential future engagements. The entire stay in Greenland has enriched me both professionally and personally".
George was involved in many activities throughout the duration of his stay, including an international conference and a workshop on Public Participation in Arctic Extractive Industries organized by the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre; research meetings with representatives of companies, local and regional authorities in Nuuk; A meeting of the Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility, and a PhD and Masters’ students course, “Sustainability, extractives industries and social responsibility: Greenland and beyond”. During the course, George gave a presentation on culture and history of the Seto people of Russia.
"The meetings gave a unique possibility to figure out the approaches to social responsibility, know more about best practices, get an overview on the companies ‘activities, including different aspects of corporate culture that turned out to be different from the Russian companies. The meeting and interviews helped me to receive valuable inputs to my further research on public participation in Russia".