Mandate for the SSF

The Ministry of Education and Research laid down the following mandate on 10 October 2011.

The Svalbard Science Forum (SSF) is to be coordinated by the Research Council of Norway.

The objective of the forum is to achieve better coordination of research activities in Svalbard, to provide integrated and easily accessible information about research currently ongoing in Svalbard, and to expand and strengthen collaboration between individual researchers and research institutions – both Norwegian and foreign – that are involved in research activities in Svalbard. Another objective of the SSF is to make it easier for Norwegian and foreign researchers and research institutions to obtain the support and guidance they need concerning the infrastructure and services available to researchers in Svalbard.

The forum shall serve as a coordinating and advisory body for all key players in research activities in Svalbard. The following institutions take part in the SSF:

- The Research Council of Norway (Chair)
- The Norwegian Polar Institute
- The University Centre in Svalbard
- Kings Bay AS
- The Ny-Ålesund Science Managers Committee (NySMAC)
- The Longyearbyen Science and Education Forum (LYSEF)
- Polish Academy of Sciences, HornsundArctic and Antarctic Research
- Institute (AARI) of Roshydromet, Barentsburg

- The Governor of Svalbard

To ensure broad-based participation, the Ministry requires that NySMAC be represented by one of the foreign stations in Ny-Ålesund and that LYSEF be represented by a research institution.

The Svalbard Science Forum is responsible for the following tasks:

Strategic tasks:
- develop strategies and plans for scientific coordination of international   research activities in Svalbard;
- contribute towards better coordination, cooperation and planning as well as overall prioritisation of international research activities in Svalbard;
- provide an arena for discussion and serve as a mouthpiece for research interests in matters that will affect scientific activity in the archipelago;
- organise workshops, conferences and other activities to foster coordination and cooperation.

Tasks supporting the Governor of Svalbard:
- provide information and advice to the public authorities;
serve as an information channel for the public authorities towards the research community;
- help reduce the environmental impact of research activities in Svalbard through better research methods and greater coordination of transport, equipment use and sampling activities;
- represent the interests of research in key administrative issues in Svalbard.

Tasks in connection with funding schemes:
- disseminate information about funding schemes and, on behalf of the Research Council, serve as the recipient of applications for funding under special schemes such as the Arctic Field Grant and funding for researcher-initiated workshops and meetings;
- assess the grant applications received and submit funding recommendations to the Research Council, which will take the final decisions regarding allocation of grants.

Tasks associated with information and day-to-day operations:
- ensure that the "Research in Svalbard" database (RiS-database) becomes an effective tool that provides an overview of research carried out in Svalbard and of the knowledge and data produced through this research;
- promote use of the RiS database among researchers, for instance by developing a single portal for registering projects, depositing data and applying for permits;
- foster close cooperation between the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Research Council, as co-owners of the database and portal (50/50);
- make information about the infrastructure and research-related services available in Svalbard readily accessible to Norwegian and foreign researchers;
- assist in the development of the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System.

A secretariat is established under the forum to support forum activities and administer the day-to-day operations of the SSF. The secretariat staff members will be employees of the Research Council but will be stationed in Longyearbyen. The Ministry requires the Research Council to draw up specific guidelines for the activities of the secretariat on the basis of this mandate. The guidelines must be in conformance with provisions of the Public Administration Act relating to impartiality.

The tasks of the SSF have no bearing on the internal affairs of associated institutes in Svalbard, only on the relationship between these institutions and between research and other activities taking place in Svalbard.

The Research Council shall submit an annual report on the activities of the Svalbard Science Forum to the Ministry of Education and Research.

The mandate entered into force on 10 October 2011 and will be revised as deemed necessary.