The Research Council’s Arctic and northern areas initiative
The Arctic and northern areas are of great strategic importance both globally and to Norway. There is an increasing need for research and new knowledge to ensure the sustainable management of the area’s abundant natural resources and to respond to the challenges and opportunities arising from climate change and a new political framework.
Efforts to develop the Research Council of Norway’s Arctic and northern areas initiative began in 2005. It was shaped by factors of both national and international significance, such as climate change and a growing demand for the natural resources found in and under the ocean. For instance, estimates show that a quarter of the world’s undiscovered petroleum reserves are to be found in the Arctic areas.
At the national level it is important to exercise Norwegian sovereignty in Svalbard and in the surrounding sea areas and to facilitate future-oriented, sustainable industrial development in the north.
The first strategy on the Arctic and northern areas was launched in 2006. A second version was approved in 2011, with the vision that Norway by 2020 will be a leading nation for research on the Arctic and northern areas.
Among other important objectives are that the country will be recognised for its sound management of resources in the north, and Northern Norway will be known for its dynamic, diversified industrial sector and active R&D efforts.
The strategy will be implemented by establishing research relevant to the Arctic and northern areas as cross-disciplinary activities, incorporating research relevant to the northern areas into all the Research Council’s funding instruments. In principle, new dimensions will be added to ongoing programmes and initiatives in order to avoid fragmentation, however, new initiatives may be considered if need arise.
A crucial focus is the international and global dimension of the Arctic and northern areas, and the strengthening of international research cooperation in this area.
Increasing the participation of trade and industry in research both at the national level and at the regional level in North Norway will continue to be a key challenge, as will the establishing of a review of the Research Council’s existing instruments is needed and closer cooperation between the public and private sectors.
Thematic priority areas
The six defined thematic priority areas on which the activities will be focusing encompass research topics related to the natural surroundings, technology, people and society and include issues of a cross-disciplinary nature.
The international and Arctic dimension
- The northern areas as a geopolitical arena
- Questions of international law in the north
- Knowledge about Russia
Environmental issues and biological resources
- Environmental issues related to climate change and pollutants being transported into the region via sea and air currents
- The preservation of the rich biological resources of the area
Energy, petroleum and mineral resources
- Global economic development as a driver of the demand for resources in the region
- Renewable energy and CO2 management
- Petroleum as a source of energy and a potential for industry
- Geological resources
- Management and the environment - development of the framework for resource-based economic activity
Social development in the Arctic and northern areas
- Social change in the north
- Building on the appeal of the north
- Expertise and labour force
- Powers, interests and actors
Knowledge-based industrial development
- National and regional challenges
- Research for innovation
- preparation of joint funding announcements.