Resilient Arctic Societies and Industrial Development

The Arctic is in the midst of deep-seated change. Comprehensive changes in climate, transport and industry (mining, oil and gas, and more) will have a profound effect on the communities and the lives of the people living in this sparsely populated area. These transformative processes increase and broaden the interest in the area itself, making the Arctic more important strategically and economically in terms of globalization.

In addition to understand how to regulate and manage what is coming, a thorough understanding of the relationships between society, environment and business is crucial. Here international and national law and agreements play an important if not vital role.

There is a substantial variation in natural conditions in the Arctic (e.g. temperature, ice, weather conditions), and in the rate and extent of infrastructure development and telecommunications across the region. Subsequently, some parts of the Arctic are more densely populated than others. Indigenous people are an important part of the Arctic population and their rights are increasingly supported by the UN system and international law which itself has an influence upon what can be done and how.

The call will mainly focus on how changes in climate and industry development in the Arctic influence different types of societies. To what extent are communities, population centres and individuals resilient and able to adjust to change, or recover from such deep-seated shifts influencing and even transforming their way of life? If they are not able to adjust and recover, why, and to what extent does it matter?


  • Demographic and socio-economic changes. People are gradually moving in and out of the Arctic and within the Arctic – from small communities to cities and areas that are more central. The socio-economic circumstances are also of increasing concerns in the Arctic especially in the case of the indigenous people. What are the short and long time consequences for Arctic life of these deep- seated structural changes? Are there any systematic differences between indigenous and non-indigenous people when it comes to demographic and socio-economic processes?
  • Industrial activities in the Arctic. Where do we see industries coming in and what kind of industries are we talking about? What do we know about the short and long-term impacts of these new industries? To what extent is this type of change particularly challenging for indigenous communities, and if so, why? Case studies are very welcomed here.
  • Trust, legitimacy. Who is heard and who has a say in these types of large- scale changes? What kind of role and impact do those already living in the area (indigenous people and settlers) have on these types of transformative processes in which much of the input is coming from the outside? Do people have trust in what is going on and is local democracy playing an important part? Will it strengthen or weaken the role of indigenous people in the Arctic?
  • Corporate social responsibility, Social license and free, prior and informed consent. Corporate social responsibility and social license are increasingly the benchmark of industrial development in the Arctic, but how to implement it so it alleviates conflict around development? In the case of indigenous people, with the endorsement of the UNDRIP by all circumpolar countries, free and prior informed consent is becoming increasingly relevant in the relation between indigenous people and resource development companies. But here again, how this international norm can be put into place in the Arctic is a challenging matter.
  • New governance structures and institutional development. What kind of new governance structures are developing in the Arctic and what exactly are the relationships between the different levels, local, regional, national and global? Are there actually more global governance structures that are taking the lead at the cost of the national and local level? What is the role of international business here? Do we see the building of new institutions that really help in improving food security, health and other deep-seated social challenges in the Arctic?
  • Science, technology and indigenous knowledge. Western science plays a core role in the processes we are looking into here. However, over the years there has also been an increased emphasis on indigenous knowledge in the Arctic as indigenous people, in particular, become more visible in these processes. How can indigenous knowledge, if at all, improve decisions and solutions, and how do western science and indigenous knowledge interact?

We welcome abstracts from studies of a broad range of topics, from the different social sciences, and from scientists working at the intersection of social science and natural science.

Scientific committee members:

  • Per Selle, University of Bergen and UiT The Arctic University of Norway (lead).
  • Thierry Rodon, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
  • Julie Decker, Anchorage Museum, Alaska
  • Stephan Schott, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University, Canada
  • Toril Inga Røe Utvik, Statoil, Norway

Katrin Bluhm
(47) 468 537 49

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