A Smart Arctic Future - Sustaining a smart Arctic


  • 13:00 Balanced and sustainable economic development Arctic innovation hubs as platforms for effective collaboration
    Authors: Henna Longi ( University of Oulu ); Sami Niemelä ( Oulu University of Applied Sciences )

    Some of the highlighted topics in the Arctic development are challenges related to climate change and protecting sensible environment. However, these topics can be seen as often overlooked elements in the Arctic economic discourse. This may lead into contrast between widely strategically and politically accepted visions for the sustainable future and heavily resource orientated Arctic business with marginal focus e.g. on environmental issues. This paper presents an alternative approach to the aforementioned conflict by studying regional innovation systems as platforms for sustainable development.

    The traditional approach on the Arctic context has regularly been built on the natural resources and their efficient exploitation, whereas, in practice, Northern Scandinavia has also for a longer time based its growth and welfare more on research, development and innovation (RDI). Moreover, during the last decade the Arctic innovation hubs in the largest cities of northern Finland, Sweden and Norway (Oulu, Luleå and Tromsø) have increased their importance for balanced regional development even in one of the most challenging contexts of the world.

    This study presents the key findings from the Oulu region, and primary results from Tromsø and Luleå area. The core of this study stems from the multi-disciplinary research activities, combining the relevant elements from economics, geography and industrial management to provide a comprehensive view on the challenges and opportunities of building a regional innovation system linking research institutions, public actors and companies. This study consists of intense analysis of vast documentation of the development of Oulu Innovation Alliance (OIA), Finland. In addition, the analysis is complemented with the interviews of key actors from Arctic innovation hubs.

    In this study, it is concluded that the intense activities in the field of RDI have increased the attractiveness of these rather peripheral regions and innovation systems can indeed ensure the positive growth path of the Arctic. Reorganizing resources for RDI toward shared, co-operative functions has enabled the regions to find new strategic spearheads to smart specialization, such as innovations in digital health and circular economy. It is shown that intensified smartness has improved the regional resilience and contributed to growing diversity in local production patterns. Moreover, it is concluded that cross-border collaboration of innovation hubs would improve the effectivity of RDI activities even further.

  • 13:30 Can my GPS lead me to a sustainable future? The role of technology and lessons from three remote Arctic communities.
    Authors: Jennifer Schmidt ( University of Alaska Anchorage ); Vera Hausner ( University of Tromso ); Chris Monz ( Utah State University )

    Global warming, permafrost thaws, and melting of sea ice are affecting traditional livelihoods in remote locations in the Arctic. Socioeconomic and technological changes have concurrently altered the way subsistence harvesters respond to climate-related risks, but research is unclear about the role of technologies for adapting to climate-related risks or for accentuating already existing vulnerability of the communities. We interviewed 35 subsistence harvesters from three remote communities in Arctic Alaska to understand how adoption of technology has influenced subsistence, their community, and ways in which they might be adapting to climate change. Communication technologies such as VHF and cellphones, GPS and improved access through snowmachines and powerboats, have changed the hunting grounds and allowed harvesters to travel further and faster. Most subsistence harvesters experience that technology help them adapt to environmental conditions and changes, such as extreme weather events such as storms (77%) and other climatic issues such as fog, dangerous ice, and less snow, for instance by the possibility to check weather reports and to communicate with other hunters. However, people were split as to whether technology will not be able to overcome challenges raised by climate change. Most people acknowledge that there are downsides of technology (60%) with costs as the main challenge for the communities (34%) and increased vulnerability due to people depending too much on technology or going out under poor conditions (23%). While technology was mentioned as one reason youth do not engages as much in subsistence now, it also makes it easier to take children out, do more outings, and improves safety while doing subsistence activities together with the family.  Overall technology has been helpful for subsistence and decreased isolation, but as the main challenges in the communities are employment and education, where technology fall short in addressing the main pressing needs.  Our results illustrate that technology maybe be helpful in dealing with climate-related risks, but there are limits and more could be done with technology to improve the sustainability of Arctic communities.

  • 13:45 The Sustainable Development Goals, The Capability Approach, and Renewable Energy Shaping the Smart Arctic Society
    Authors: Anna-Karin Andersson ( UIT The Arctic University of Norway )

    NB: Please consider this submission for the session(s) organised by the Arctic Research Centre (ARC), UiT.

    The United Nations explicitly describes the Sustainable Development Goals as ”grounded” in the Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations also explicitly claims that Human Rights should be interpreted as grounded in the Capability Approach, which was pioneered by economist and Nobel laurate Amartya Sen. The United Nations points out the need for systematic analysis and development of the Capability Approach in order to utilize it as a practical tool for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. This paper identifies the occurrence of human rights in the Sustainable Development Goals, systematically analyses these rights in the light of an innovative interpretation of the Capability Approach, and applies the normative framework to the challenge of developing technology of the arctic society to secure renewable energy and efficient carbon capture which are a core action areas of the Sustainable Development Goals. Examples of behavior that contributes to global warming include burning of oil-based fuels, certain industrial activity, certain farming and certain forestry. Suppose that we can sustainably engage in some of these activities to a certain extent. To abide to the internationally endorsed Paris Agreement to limit the increase of earth’s temperature to 2 °C, and preferably to 1,5 °C above pre-industrial levels, we may only engage in such behavior to a very limited extent. However, engaging in some such behavior might be essential to secure one’s livelihood. Hence, there is a clear and urgent tension between the prolific class of allegedly «universal,» «integrated and indivisible» rights to essential resources and services, and the increasing pressure on these scarce resources due to human activity. The paper advances a novel solution to rights conflicts that is aligned with the proposed interpretation of the Capability Approach. The solution combines incentives to use natural and man-made methods of carbon capture with an adjudication method to be used when all other solutions to rights conflicts are exhausted.  

  • 14:00 Aspects of Vulnerability: the cultural dimension of climate justice.
    Authors: Clare Heyward ( Arctic University in Tromso )

    NB: The instructions for submission say that a paper must contain “original data”.  The aim of philosophy is not primarily to gather data, but to engage in conceptual analysis and interpretation.  Thus my paper offers an original argument, but no original data.    



    The question of how to best respond to climate change is an inherently normative issue.  Whilst scientific understanding of the causes and impacts of climate change is of course essential, decisions about how to respond to the situation, as reported by scientists, is driven as much by value judgements as by scientific and technical knowledge.  However, sometimes these value judgements are (partially) obscured in discussions.       

    Using philosophical analysis, this paper argues that concepts such as “dangerous climate change” and “vulnerability” contain this inherently normative element.  Human well-being is multi-dimensional and there is reason to doubt that these many dimensions are fungible, or aggregable.  Arguments for this have been long commonplace in philosophical literature, and are increasingly accepted in the policy world, thanks to the concept of “human development”.   It is thus possible to ask which aspects of human well-being are “vulnerable” to climate change, and to make value-judgements about which of these aspects should be taken into account when considering how to respond to climate change at the societal level.   

    Vulnerability on material dimensions of well-being are usually emphasized in the literature on climate change.  Occasionally, references to “non-economic” possible losses and damages, or cultural losses can be found.  It has been suggested that climate change jeopardises the cultural identity of some groups – especially that of Arctic indigenous peoples.  This paper argues that cultural dimensions are as worthy of consideration as the material dimensions and proposes a mechanism by which climate change could jeopardise cultural identity.  Put simply, it proposes that one kind of collective social identity develops over time as a society interacts with a piece of territory.  It goes onto consider the implications of taking the “cultural dimension” of climate justice seriously when considering mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage measures.  


  • 14:15 Renewable energy and sustainable futures in the Arctic: biomass and subsistence in Tanana, Alaska
    Authors: Jennifer Schmidt ( University of Alaska Anchorage ); Jen Curl ( University of Alaska Fairbanks ); Amanda Byrd ( University of Alaska Fairbanks )

    Energy costs in rural Alaska have risen over the years and today these costs make up a large portion of household expenses and decrease the amount of disposable income available.  Most communities in rural Alaska are mixed economies depending on both wages and subsistence harvests.  To help address rising energy costs and reduce their contributions to global climate change several communities in rural Alaska have turned to renewable energy.  Little research has been done to examine how and to what extent people are influenced by renewable energy projects and whether these projects improve the sustainability of communities in rural Alaska. In response to high energy costs and long, cold winters Tanana, a rural community in interior Alaska, began a biomass boiler project in 2000 that continues to this day.  Part of the biomass program includes paying local residents to harvest wood and fuel vouchers.  We interviewed 61 households in November 2017 to understand how this program has influenced residents and potential interactions with subsistence activities.  We found that people who harvest wood were more likely to harvest more subsistence foods because people the equipment used for both activities is similar and 57% respondents combined wood harvesting with other activities (i.e. subsistence, travel, etc.).  Even though only a small portion of the households directly benefit from the biomass harvesting program (29%), overall the program is perceived as having a positive effect (69%) for the community because it has created jobs (36%), saves people money 23%), promotes sharing (16%), and reduces fuel use by the community (15%).  Our research shows that biomass programs have the potential to increase the sustainability of communities in rural Alaska that are faced with high energy costs and have access to available wood.

Science Science

Thursday 24th January 2019

13:00 - 14:30

Clarion Hotel The Edge - Kjøpmannskontoret

Add to Calendar 2019-01-24 13:00 2019-01-24 14:30 Europe/Oslo A Smart Arctic Future - Sustaining a smart Arctic Clarion Hotel The Edge - Kjøpmannskontoret

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