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Setting a Course for Arctic Research: Arctic Initiative at Arctic Science Summit Week 2024

The Arctic is transforming in unprecedented and sometimes unpredictable ways - environmentally, socially, politically, and economically. The next decade is critical for strengthening our understanding of the consequences of these transformations for Arctic ecosystems and communities and the globe.

In early April, the Arctic Initiative team actively participated in kick-off discussions for the International Conference on Arctic Research Planning Process 2022-2026 (ICARP IV) research priority teams at the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland. This collaborative planning process, led by the International Arctic Science Commission every ten years, ICARP IV engages Arctic researchers, Indigenous Peoples, policymakers, residents, and stakeholders from around the world to consider the most urgent knowledge gaps and Arctic research priorities and needs for the next decade, and to explore avenues to address these research needs. ICARP IV will inform preparations for the next International Polar Year (IPY) in 2032-33. 

Particular attention is needed to ensure that ICARP IV informs national research and policy priorities. The Arctic Initiative is committed to the ICARP IV process: Jennifer Spence is co-chairing the team focused on science cooperation and diplomacy, Fellows Douglas Causey and Nadezhda Filimonova are participating in the team examining resilience of Arctic environments and societies, and Brittany Janis is involved with the team dedicated to preparing present and future generations. 

At ASSW, Spence co-chaired two workshops for the ICARP IV research priority team on science cooperation and diplomacy. This team will address research priorities and their implementation related to: effective international pan-Arctic cooperation in joint funding and delivery of Arctic research outcomes; connecting and coordinating national and international funding agencies; leveraging the role, contribution, and value of Arctic science at times of high geopolitical tension; pathways to effective research cooperation; research exchange programs; and collaborative observing amid geopolitical constraints.

Arctic Council representatives from the Norwegian Chairship and the Working Groups were present at ASSW to engage in discussions and share information about their work. Their presence demonstrates that the Council’s new guidelines for working level cooperation, released in February 2024, are being implemented. This raises hopes that scientific cooperation on critical Arctic issues may advance.

ASSW 2024 also included a notable number of sessions and discussions dedicated to the Indigenization of Arctic research. “From co-production of knowledge and two-eyed seeing to research methodologies and priority setting, it was exciting to see these issues elevated in discussions and a general recognition that diverse Indigenous voices and perspectives need to be a cornerstone of future research planning and events,” said Spence.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Hanlon, Elizabeth. “Setting a Course for Arctic Research: Arctic Initiative at Arctic Science Summit Week 2024.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, April 16, 2024.

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