What is the challenge?
The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and other northern areas today is greater than ever. Interest in how natural resources are used is growing tremendously because of climate change. Political activity has intensified and there is a focus on new technology for exploiting natural resources. How can sustainable, peaceful development take place, and how should any conflicts of interest be managed? While awareness has previously been mainly of the Arctic coastal and marine environments, other northern areas and locations, including economic hubs like Tromsö, Umeå and Arkhangelsk, have now also come to the fore.How can the programme contribute to a solution?Mistra Arctic Sustainable Development is aimed at developing knowledge of the social, economic and political aspects of peaceful, sustainable development in northern Europe and the Arctic. The programme focuses mainly on interactions among different livelihoods in northern Sweden, Norway and Finland that are dependent on natural resources, and on how they are affected by resource extraction and geopolitical changes in the Arctic and elsewhere. The plan is, by mapping historical land use, to clarify the prospects of future management of natural-resource issues in the region.Research is concentrated in seven sectors: mining, forestry, oil and gas exploration, fisheries, tourism and municipal planning. Within the framework of the programme, various conceptions of the Arctic and their implications for development of the region are investigated. The programme is based on knowledge derived from Mistra Arctic Futures, a research programme that has now been concluded, but is independent from it.Who will benefit from the results?Key words and phrases in the research are globalisation, climate change, development of natural resources, political control, geopolitics and security. Mistra Arctic Sustainable Development will strengthen capacity in social sciences and humanities, and develop international collaboration with research programmes and networks. Stakeholders and interest groups, as well as residents, decision-makers, experts and the public, will be able to benefit from the research results. The structure of the programme is such that the programme meetings are held in various case-study areas, in combination with sessions with purchasers and open meetings that the interested public can attend.”Mistra Arctic Sustainable Development is extending Arctic research into areas that have, to date, been given relatively little emphasisin international Arctic processes. The areas in the far north of northern Europe differ from traditional and historical Arctic tracts, since they’re characterised by, for instance, large urban areas and vibrant economic activity. In the research, it’s relevant to integrate knowledge from these areas as well.”Carina Keskitalo, scientific programme manager