Over 100 participants joined the UArctic Rectors Meeting at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. With representation from 29 UArctic member institutions, the meeting provided an excellent opportunity for higher education leadership to share insights from their institutions and find new avenues for collaboration. In total, the meeting welcomed participants from over 60 organizations, ensuring broader reach for the discussions on critical Arctic and global issues.
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco delivered the welcome address on the morning of January 13. As a long-time supporter of UArctic through his Foundation, HSH highlighted the role of universities in solving the challenges the Arctic is facing:
“Universities are places where knowledge is produced. To protect the Arctic, as with everything related to the environment, nothing would be possible without science and without the work of scientists. Nothing would be possible without such painstaking – sometimes unrewarding – efforts, which alone enable us to see beyond appearances, to understand the complex mechanisms at work, to anticipate their effects, and more importantly to find ways of mitigating and adapting to them. This is why we need to encourage research without respite, to nurture it, protect it, and to disseminate the knowledge it offers us as widely as possible.”
In his speech, HSH also emphasized the importance of knowledge transmission and engaging the youth:
“The specific role of universities is also due to their being not only places where knowledge is produced but also where it is transmitted. This is also an essential quality for responding to the challenges that we face today. Their solutions can only be found through the awareness, education, and mobilization of new generations. […] I would specifically like to underline the importance of involving the Indigenous youth of the Arctic region. Due to their particular acuity in regard to the changes that concern them directly, due to their knowledge of the immediate areas and their capacity to act, these young people will be the main players of change.”
The majority of the Rectors Meeting program took place under four thematic sessions, each opening with a keynote speech, followed by a panel. This proved to be successful format in creating and encouraging dialogue. The keynotes set the stage for discussion, the panelists shared their experiences and opinions as well as commented on each other’s input, and the audience contributed to the discussion through a Q&A at the end of each panel. The full list of sessions and their speakers are found at the end of this news piece.
The program content reflected some of the most critical and debated issues in the Arctic today. As pointed out by many speakers, higher education institutions play a crucial role in understanding the key issues and what is happening, and also in developing better and more sustainable solutions to the problems faced by the Arctic and its inhabitants. By increasing and deepening academic and intersectoral collaboration and combining their expertise, higher education institutions can contribute significantly to sustainability goals in a way that serves both the world and the Arctic.
A summary report of the Monaco Rectors Meeting is currently being produced, and it will be shared at a later date.
The 2023 Rectors Meeting in Monaco was organized jointly by UArctic, the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation, and the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ), associate member of the University of Paris-Saclay, in collaboration with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Session I: The Green Shift, energy crisis, and quest for natural resources: impacts on the Arctic environment and communities
Keynote: Lars Kullerud, President of UArctic
Facilitator: Taina Pihlajaniemi, Vice-Rector Research of the University of Oulu, Finland
- Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Rector of Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
- Geoff Payne, President of the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada
- Klaus Mohn, Rector of the University of Stavanger, Norway
- Keijo Hämäläinen, Rector of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Session II: Arctic societies and communities in a rapidly changing world: to what extent is the renewed interest in the Arctic welcome?
Keynote (via video): Sara Olsvig, International Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), Greenland
Facilitator: Vianne Timmons, Rector of Memorial University, Canada
- Laila Susanne Vars, Rector of Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Norway
- Lesley Brown, President of Yukon University, Canada
- Riitta Rissanen, Rector of Lapland University of Applied Sciences, Finland
- Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, Rector of the University of Akureyri, Iceland
- Juho Kähkönen, UArctic Board student representative from the University of Lapland, Finland
Session III: The role of oceans in the Green Shift: research gaps and requirements (transport, deep sea minerals, fish, local hunting, training of experts)
Keynote (via video): Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary, Assistant Director General, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO, France
Facilitator: Dag Rune Olsen, Rector of UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
- Tom Brown, Vice Principal for Research and Innovation of University of St Andrews, Scotland
- Tristan Montier, Vice-Rector for Research of the University of Western Brittany, France
- Ben Ferrari, Senior Advisor, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, UK
Session IV: Arctic cooperation in higher education and research: the need to re-think and intensify academic and intersectoral cooperation
Keynote: Anne Husebekk, Vice-President for Freedom and Responsibility in Science, International Science Council, Vice-chair of the Board of UArctic, Norway
Facilitator: Sari Lindblom, Rector of the University of Helsinki, Finland