Ambassador Stefán Skjaldarson, Chair of the Sustainable Development Working Group

Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson
Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


The Arctic Resilience Forum will be convened every Wednesday from 11:30am – 1:00pm (Eastern Time) over a series of ten weeks, beginning October 7, 2020.  The online series will engage the broadest audience possible in conversations about how to build the resilience of Arctic communities and ecosystems across a variety of focus areas, including: 

Register here to get updates about the entire Arctic Resilience Forum series.

All recordings of previous sessions can be found on the SDWG website.

*Russian language translation will be available for all sessions


The ARF online series sought to engage the broadest audience possible in conversations about how to build the resilience of Arctic communities and ecosystems across a variety of focus areas, including:

Past Sessions

All recordings of previous sessions can be found on the SDWG website.

October 7: Indigenous Youth Leadership 

A powerful new generation is emerging in the Arctic. A generation that is strong and full of new ideas, a generation that is ready to tackle issues head on. Indigenous youth are the future of arctic communities, and many are already making their voices heard. The Indigenous Youth Leadership session will explore the challenges that Indigenous youth face, and what crises are affecting them.

The session will discuss how Indigenous youth are stepping into leadership roles, and how they can be enabled to capture new opportunities for their communities. The session will examine some of the existing efforts to empower young people to take on leadership roles.

October 14: Food Security 

Achieving food security has been a varying challenge across diverse Arctic communities, but Covid-19 has laid bare particular challenges associated with supply chain disruption and access to food and conveyed the urgency of addressing these issues within a larger resilience framework.

Through brief presentations and discussion this session will highlight the unique challenges and opportunities for producing and ensuring access to high-quality, culturally relevant food for Arctic communities, as well as examine innovative case studies. Specific topics to be featured include Aleut perspectives, Russia’s new Food Security Doctrine, Iceland’s use of geothermal energy in food production, local food system resilience in Finnish Lapland, innovative research at Northern (Arctic) Federal University in Arkhangelsk on bio-monitoring and agroforestry, and more.

October 21: Renewable Energy

Clean and secure energy is essential for resilient Arctic communities and intrinsically tied to issues such as health, climate, and food. The Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council therefore has made energy a priority and work is ongoing to promote the responsible and sustainable management, use, and development of energy – even in remote communities. 

This session will highlight how energy is being transformative across the Arctic and consider questions such as: What does transition away from diesel look like? What tools are available to support transition? What is the role of policy and how are Indigenous communities leading the way? 

October 28: Human Health and Pandemics

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stress-test for resilience across the Arctic, particularly for the health and wellbeing of Northerners. The results of this test have been uneven – for example the Arctic’s remoteness has been a benefit in some areas, but it has hindered readiness and response in others. Around the region we’ve heard stories of both resilience and vulnerability, but throughout it all the unique strengths of the North show through. 

This session will focus on what we’ve learned so far and how resilience can best be supported going forward. We will explore how the pandemic has demonstrated the strength and resilience of some communities, discuss some of the ways that Indigenous and western knowledge systems have interacted in the face of crisis, and describe some longstanding vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic. The session will feature videos-from-the-field, a panel of experts and knowledge holders, and Q&A from the audience.

November 11th: Broadband Connectivity 

The November 11th session is focused on Arctic Broadband Connectivity.  Connectivity is considered highly important to provide better quality of life and more business opportunities in Arctic communities. COVID-19 has shown that access to the internet is not just a luxury, but a human right that enables full participation in society, access to education, healthcare, family, public resources, and economic opportunity. In this November 11th session of the Arctic Resilience Forum, we will explore the “What”, “How” and “Why” of broadband connectivity in the Arctic. 

November 18th: Gender 

The November 18th session will focus on the topic of Gender and Resilience (alternatively titled "Like a Bird Trying to Fly with One Wing") The capacity of any social-ecological system to absorb and respond to shocks, stresses or crisis and bounce forward, i.e. to maintain function and continue to develop, is dependent on its access to knowledge and experience of those performing different functions within the system. 

Gender and diversity play a key role in building resilience and adaptation pathways within any given social-ecological system through recognizing and celebrating gendered diversity in knowledge, institutions and everyday practice. In this session we will explore the interplay of resilience, gender and empowerment in Arctic social-ecological systems and introduce some interesting examples of local solution-oriented initiatives.


November 25: Socio-Ecological Resilience 

Social-ecological resilience in the Arctic depends upon ecosystems - they are the life-support system that makes resilience in the North possible. As the Arctic transforms, ecosystems are changing, and Arctic livelihoods that depend on food, water and cultural practices linked to the land are threatened by those changes. This session will explore the ecosystems that are critical to life in the Arctic, and what we can do to strengthen them. 

December 2: Financing Resilience

The December 2nd session will focus on the topic of Financing Resilience. What are the financing needs of Arctic communities? What are some of the innovative partnerships that demonstrate the potential of investing in Arctic resilience? What more can we do to create an enabling environment for financing Arctic resilience?

Using a traditional lavvu discussion format, experts will consider these questions and challenge us to think differently about what it means to invest in the Arctic.

December 7: Infrastructure 

The December 7th session will focus on the topic of Infrastructure. This conversation will explore the questions; What are the existing infrastructure gaps and what is being done to close them? What challenges do communities, investors, and government officials face when it comes to financing and building infrastructure in the Arctic? How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted infrastructure development in the Arctic? 


December 16: Working Together in the Arctic: Respecting Indigenous Engagement, Equity and Sustainability of Knowledge Systems to Support Resilience in the Arctic  (Registration Now Open) 

Our final session of the Fall series on December 16th will focus on the topic of Working Together in the Arctic. This Talking Circle session will bring together a diverse panel of Indigenous knowledge holders and western scholars and will focus on discussing the engagement of Indigenous knowledge systems to promote resilience in the Arctic and practical ways, in which such co-production could be successful. 

Event Organizers

Arctic Council

Iceland's Chairmanship Arctic Council

Belfer Center Arctic Initiative

About the Arctic Resilience Forum

Resilience means the capacity of communities and systems to recover and restore themselves from various kinds of crises and disturbances. The Arctic region is changing rapidly, and the speed of ongoing change makes adaptation extremely challenging. Governments, indigenous peoples, local communities, researchers, and businesses must work together to build resilience to the social-ecological changes that are underway.

In May, 2017, the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic Council adopted the Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF) to organize regional resilience actions. The ARAF provides the Council with a common frame for building and supporting resilience in the Arctic region.

Arctic leaders encouraged the Arctic Council to host a Forum every two years to take stock of Arctic Resilience and foster implementation and investments that enhance resilience and climate adaptation actions in the region.

The first Arctic Resilience Forum, hosted by the Finnish Chairmanship and supported by the Arctic Council Secretariat, was held in Rovaniemi, Finland in September of 2018. Convening over 100 Arctic leaders, the first Forum helped build a broader understanding of the importance of resilience, particularly for northern communities, and how to implement and gain financial support for resilience actions in the region. Participants expressed eagerness to convene once again, in two years, to engage more directly in resilience progress, accelerate resilience actions, and build out the Arctic resilience community of practice.

The Corona-Virus pandemic reinforces the importance of understanding and supporting resilience in the Arctic. The longer-term impacts of the pandemic for the Arctic and the globe remain uncertain; however, the experiences of Arctic communities over the last several months highlight the Arctic’s unique circumstances. Furthermore, the pandemic highlights the unique strengths and vulnerabilities and reinforces the case for a holistic approach to understanding and building resilience. 

In this context, the Icelandic Chairmanship will host the Arctic Council’s second biannual Arctic Resilience Forum. The ARF seeks to actively engage participants in conversations about how to build the resilience of Arctic communities and ecosystems. It offers the opportunity to discuss concrete best practices and experiences from the Council and the broader community of circumpolar experts and knowledge holders. The Arctic Resilience Forum aims to continue to strengthen cooperation on resilience work.

For an interview with the two main organizers, Jennifer Spence, the Executive Secretary of the Council's Sustainable Development Working Group, and Joel Clement, Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, read more here.

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