Ashlee-Ann E. Pigford, Samantha Darling & Gordon M. Hickey

Governments in Canada have been steadily increasing their investments in scientific research to help support evidence-based decision-making for sustainable northern development (Carr, Natcher et al., 2013; ITK, 2018). Prominent examples include financial support for: ArcticNet (2003-2018; 113.2 million CAD), the Canada program for the International Polar Year (2006-2011; 150 million CAD), the Polar Continental Shelf Program (2006-2011; 88.9 million CAD), the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund (2009; 85 million CAD), Sentinelle Nord (2015-2023; 98 million CAD), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Northern Chairs Program (2000-2017; 11 million CAD), the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (250 million CAD for construction; 2018 onwards 26.5 million CAD /year) and the Institut nordique du Québec (2018; 83.5 million CAD for construction).1 Along with these investments, various knowledge co-production frameworks have been proposed and some have been adopted to help foster the production of scientific knowledge that is considered relevant to academia, communities and governments (e.g. participatory, community-based and action research) (Gearhead and Shirley, 2007; Burn, 2008; Pearce, Ford et al., 2009). While collaborative approaches to scientific research have seen some success in informing public policy directions (Armitage, Berkes et al., 2011), northern advocates have continued to call attention to gaps between scientific pursuits, community needs and northern policy outcomes (Burn, 2008; Ogden, Schmidt et al., 2016; ITK, 2018). Reports such as Research Excellence in the Northwest Territories: Holistic, Relevant and Ethical Research in the Social Sciences, Humanities and Health Sciences (ACUNS,2018), Research Excellence in Yukon: Increasing Capacity and Benefits to Yukoners in the Social Sciences, Humanities and Health Sciences (ACUNS, 2017), and A new Shared Arctic Leadership Model (Simon, 2017) also suggest that equitable collaboration and participation in northern research processes has yet to be fully realized (see also Korsmo & Graham, 2002; Caine, Salomons et al., 2007; Gearhead & Shirley, 2007; Brunet, Hickey et al., 2014; Brunet, Hickey et al., 2017). Interestingly, despite the identification of these gaps, there has been relatively little systematic analysis of the northern research governance system that guide collaborative engagement, consultation practices, and overall co-productive capacity in Canada. In this Briefing Note, we consider how such an analysis might be approached by drawing on a transaction costs approach to help inform more strategic and integrated research policy frameworks across scale.

Afroja Khanam

Finland is now the Chair of the Arctic Council for the 2017–2019 period and aiming to highlight the Paris Agreement within Arctic cooperation on climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During its chairmanship, Finland takes up a broad range of issue areas encompassing climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as sustainable development. There are certain priority areas of concentration: environmental protection, meteorological cooperation, connectivity and education (Finland MFA, 2017). In short, climate change stands out as the main focus – it is a global phenomenon and its impacts are visible everywhere, including the Arctic and also in the Global South. According to many researchers, climate change brings a lot of challenges in the Arctic, with various environmental impacts and implications to people’s livelihoods and economic activities such as forestry, fishing and reindeer herding (AACA, 2017). At the same time, climate change also has its adverse effect on the Global South. Most of the low-lying countries are vulnerable due to the impacts of climate change. Bangladesh, as a country that is already vulnerable to and affected every year by many different types of environmental disasters, is particularly exposed to climate change and accompanying societal security threats. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2012 report, Bangladesh is among the countries estimated to lose the largest amount of cultivated land due to environmental and climate changes (IPCC, 2012). Another data shows that 30 million people are expected to be displaced due to Bangladesh losing 17% of its land if global sea levels rise by one metre. While the Arctic has some connections with South Asia and South-East Asia, as China, India and Singapore have become Observer states in the Arctic Council, Bangladesh is not among the Observer states although it is one of the most vulnerable countries with regards to global warming.

I have lived in Rovaniemi for a few years now, observing discussions on Arctic governance and in particular on climate change in the Arctic. What strikes me as an outside observer is that these debates are often disconnected from the broader global context. While there is increasingly more emphasis on the “global Arctic”, the Arctic remains to a great extent discursively isolated in terms of governance, politics and pondering about its future. My aim in this commentary is to highlight the global context that, I believe, may prove crucial for the long term trajectories of human development in the Circumpolar North. I use Bangladesh as an example as this is the context that I am the most familiar with. Against this backdrop, this Briefing Note analyses, firstly, how climate change is affecting the Global South; here exemplified with the case of Bangladesh. Secondly, it analyses how climate change is contributing to increasing levels of forced migration. Discussing in greater detail the predicament of climate migrants in Bangladesh will also serve to highlight the critical human dimension to the discussion in this briefing note. Thirdly, it explains why and how more integrated and combined policy/action is required in order to combat these problems along with the existing policies.

Malgorzata (Gosia) Smieszek, Tahnee Prior & Olivia Matthews

On September 6th and 7th, 2018 the University of Helsinki hosted Women of the Arctic: Bridging Policy, Research and Lived Experience, a side event of the UArctic Congress 2018. Building on ongoing efforts to better understand gender in the Arctic, Women of the Arctic sought to bring conversations about women’s and gender issues outside of research circles and to carve out a non-academic space for women and girls who work on or live in the Arctic. More specifically, its aim was to explore the roles and contributions of women to northern policy-making, research, exploration, art, activism, and daily life in a form of dialogue between invited guests and with active involvement of the audience.

The idea behind Women of the Arctic grew out of a conversation between Tahnee Prior, a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar and PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo and Malgorzata (Gosia) Smieszek, a researcher at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, and their realization that, amidst a steadily growing number of Arctic venues, initiatives focusing specifically on Arctic women – the successes they achieve and the challenges they face – remain few and far between. Moreover, the equal representation of women on Arctic conference panels is still far from standard with women’s perspectives often missing from debates, despite women’s critical role in their communities, their societal and political engagement, and their high levels of expertise and credentials. Women of the Arctic sought to address this issue, fill this critical gap and reach beyond the academic sphere to illuminate the stories and perspectives of a broad range of women from Arctic and non-Arctic countries, both of Indigenous and non-Indigenous origin. Ultimately, the objective was and is to create an awareness of, and promote a continued focus on, issues relating to northern women and non-Arctic women who engage with polar realities.

Stefan Brocza & Andreas Brocza

With three EU Member States (Denmark, Sweden, Finland) and an additional two European Economic Area members (Norway and Iceland) being Arctic states, the EU has a strategic interest in the Arctic remaining a low-tension area, with ongoing cooperation ensured by the Arctic Council, a well-functioning legal framework, and solid political and security cooperation. Therefore the EU tends to contribute to this through enhanced work on climate action and environmental research, sustainable development, telecommunications, and search and rescue, as well as concrete cooperation with Arctic states, institutions, Indigenous peoples and local communities.

For quite a long period, the EU provided a significant amount of funding through various initiatives to Indigenous peoples and local populations in the Arctic region. Funding programmes during the 2007-2013 co-financing period amounted to 1.14 billion EUR, or 1.98 billion EUR including the co-financing of EU Member States. Over 1 billion EUR from the European Structural and Investment Funds will be invested in the area over the current 2014-2020 financing period in strategic fields such as research and innovation, support to small businesses and clean energy.

Peter Kujawinski

In Summer, the Rovaniemi airport feels empty, as if off-season is in full effect. To me this seemed strange because after all, Summer is historically considered the best time to visit Lapland. The temperature is comfortable, it is light almost all the time, and the forests and fields are in bloom. But now that Rovaniemi is the “official hometown of Santa Claus,” I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that the area seems so empty during the most pleasant time of the year. It underscores how the Arctic works in rhythms that are often counterintuitive.

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