Arctic Frontiers Science

Theme 2: Knowledge-based development in the Arctic

Scientific knowledge is considered to be a critical component of decision-making in addressing fundamental challenges such as climate change and sustainable development, in the Arctic as well as other parts of the world. Science can provide information and insights into the nature of current and future changes in biophysical and social systems, contribute to the generation of new and innovative policies and technologies, and facilitate the evaluation and assessment of plans and policies.  It is important to emphasize that science represents only one form of such organized knowledge and Indigenous Knowledge and local knowledge can play an important role in decision-making the Arctic. Translating scientific and other types of knowledge into meaningful actions to capitalize on opportunities and counteract problems has proven to be a far more demanding task. These problems and issues span across a ‘continuum of urgencies’: from security time scales (mitigating risks of political, economic and cultural instabilities that are immediate) to sustainability time scales (balancing economic prosperity, environmental protection and societal well-being across generations). There is an ongoing need to bridge the gaps between science, Indigenous Knowledge, policy making and other forms of decision making to enhance trust, communication, collaboration, and to pursue knowledge-based development in the Arctic.

The scholarly field focused on science-policy and science-society interactions has been growing rapidly over the last two decades offering insights into design, development and functioning of more effective knowledge systems for sustainable development. In parallel, we have become more aware of various facets related to advancing the use of scientific information in decision-making and promoting knowledge-based development across all societal groups, sectors and policy levels, from the local, through national to global arenas. Despite these developments, questions still remain over how to effectively bridge the gaps between science, Indigenous knowledge, and policy and decision making.

In order to facilitate discussion how to close the gaps, we plan an interactive session, where good practices, barriers to implementation and potential solutions will receive particular attention. We invite authors to submit abstracts addressing one or several of the following topics or issues, pertaining to knowledge-based development in the Arctic:

  • Dealing with uncertainty – bridging science and policy-making perspectives and the integration of Indigenous Knowledge and local knowledge
  • Role of communication in linking science, policy, society
  • Role of formal and informal education and training (e.g. formal: universities, educational institutions, MOOCs, etc.; informal: oral histories, communities of practice, etc.)
  • Role of business in scientific research and knowledge-based development
  • Case studies: local, national, and international cases of pursuing knowledge-based development in the Arctic
  • Processes of collaboration, teamwork, and knowledge co-production
  • Mechanisms and tools at the science-policy interface (e.g. boundary organizations, scenarios etc.)
  • Topics specifically covered in a Springer book volume “Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean with Global Inclusion” to be published in conjunction with the Arctic Frontiers 2020 conference (please see details in a separate Call for book contributions)

Science committee

  • Gosia Smieszek, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland (co-lead)
  • Kim Holmen, Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway (co-lead)
  • Renuka Badhe, European Polar Board
  • Kjersti Busch, SALT AS, Norway
  • John Crump, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Canada
  • Jill Jäger, Independent scholar, Austria
  • Kristin Timm, International Arctic Research Center, UAF, USA
  • Gro Birgit Ween, University of Oslo, Norway


The Arctic Frontiers secretariat is hosted by Akvaplan-niva located at the Fram Centre in Tromsø, Norway. The secretariat is responsible for day to day operations and for the organisation of the annual conference, and reports to the steering committee.

The secretariat is led by Ole Øvretveit.


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