The Board of UArctic has launched an ambitious decade-long strategy for the network with the vision of a “strong, engaged, informed and dynamic North, creating better lives and environments for all northerners”. For UArctic, this implies that the Indigenous peoples and other northerners should have the keys to determine their own futures. Education and research are very important keys in forming that future, and UArctic shall be active in making sure that the purpose for and the way in which education and research are carried out actually serve the peoples of the North. This is essential in achieving the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals in a way that benefits both the North and the world. 

Over the coming decade, UArctic will therefore:

Bring northern voices and knowledge to the global stage, increasing understanding and respect towards the region. UArctic has an open membership that engages higher education institutions in the non-Arctic regions in close cooperation with the North. We will continue to work closely with the Indigenous peoples’ organizations and the Arctic Council to bring northern knowledge and understanding to the world. To that end, UArctic also takes an active part in the leadership of and brings another perspective to the next International Polar Year. Cross-border cooperation over generations, both within the Circumpolar North as well as between the North and more southern regions, is essential in securing the Arctic as a region of peace and cooperation for all futures.

Increase human competence and capacity in the North. The core of UArctic is collaboration in education and research through our 60+ Thematic Networks and Institutes. UArctic will continue to focus on sharing northern- and Arctic-relevant knowledge, solutions and innovations, and generating new knowledge that strengthens northern economies and creates safe jobs for northerners. Responsible resource extraction and use and the development of a northern circular economy require Arctic solutions. Through collaboration between higher education institutions, it will be possible to develop new solutions that can serve the North, while providing resources like access to tourism destinations, seafood, minerals, and energy demanded by the South. 

Improve lives and communities for all northerners. The mission of UArctic is to develop knowledge to address local and global challenges of relevance to Arctic peoples and societies by providing unique educational, research and innovation opportunities through collaboration within a powerful network of member institutions. Finding northern solutions to northern problems creates northern job security, and makes it possible for northern youth to have a realistic vision of a good future in their homeland. Arctic solutions need to be relevant to the region, whether addressing health issues, energy sources, or how to organize communities and smart cities.  

Create a healthy environment that serves the North and the world over generations. The Arctic environment is changing. The ice sheet is melting; the permafrost is thawing and releasing methane and changing the landscape; the sea ice is not there anymore to protect the coast from the ocean; brush is growing on the tundra where it never did before. This has severe consequences for the world, and for living in the Arctic. UArctic shall support and engage in the development of new ways to adapt to this changing world, and secure living ecosystems on land and under water that serve future generations. Life in the North will not be like it used to be. It is important that the choice of solutions and the ways to adapt are developed from a northern perspective, addressing the problems as seen in the North.   

The UArctic Thematic Networks and Institutes, together with the UArctic Chairs, are a powerful structure for cooperation and sharing and finding solutions in a circumpolar framework. This way, UArctic members have the opportunity to be part of the front line in Arctic knowledge on an equal basis, independent of the size of the institution. 

Lars Kullerud

UArctic President