17 September 2013

Swedish researchers continue to promote Arctic development

Sweden’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council ended recently. The research carried out in Mistra Arctic Futures has greatly assisted Swedish work in this joint body over the past two years. The final guidelines are now being drawn up for a new Arctic research programme and work to meet the challenges that face this region.

Gustaf Lind, Sweden’s Ambassador for the Arctic, who also belongs to the programme board for Mistra Arctic Futures, has found the research produced within the programme framework useful.

‘In purely practical terms, I’ve used material from the research programme during my meetings. This has included reports from SIPRI, the institute taking part, on militarisation of the Arctic. Being able to bring relevant Swedish research to the table has been valuable.’

Growing interest in Arctic inhabitants
Lind has now handed over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Canada. He relates that the Council has successively broadened its work. From being mainly focused on the environment, climate and marine issues, it has begun taking an ever keener interest in the people who live in the Arctic and their circumstances, living conditions and health.

‘So it’s generally important to build up knowledge through Swedish research in social sciences and humanities in the region. We, the people who working on the Arctic in the Arctic Council and at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, are getting access to more and better experts,’ Lind says.

Springboard for new programme next year
Mistra has extended the assignment of Mistra Arctic Futures until March 2014. The plan is that it should then get a successor in the form of a new research programme concentrating mainly on humanities and social science research on the Arctic, and on the new conditions and challenges faced by the region. Mistra’s Board has called for a revised programme application with Umeå University as the main applicant during the autumn, ahead of a final funding decision later this year.

A closing event is planned for Mistra Arctic Futures at the beginning of next year, and the intention is also that this should serve as the springboard for the new Arctic research programme.

Text: Thomas Heldmark, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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