REXSAC at Arctic Frontiers 2020 – The Power of Knowledge

November 28th, 2019

REXSAC at Arctic Frontiers 2020

In January 2020, REXSAC will be participating to the 14th edition of the Arctic Frontiers Conference: The Power of Knowledge. This forum – linking policy, business and science for responsible and sustainable development in the Arctic – will take place in Tromsø, Norway 26 – 30 January 2020.

On 27 January, REXSAC Researcher Annika E. Nilsson will be giving a “Brief outlook” on day one of the Arctic Frontiers Plenary during the Powered by Knowledge session. With knowledge being the central theme of this year, this session will look at how science and technologies can advance the green transition and sustainable development of the region. What role does science play in economic development? How do we ensure co-production of knowledge, and inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge into decision-making processes?

On 29 January, REXSAC research will feature in the Science session Local or global Arctic? with a presentation on Post extraction: Lessons for sustainability assessment

The side event The post-petroleum transition: Implications for local sustainability  29 january 15.00-16-00 will feature discussions among researchers and decision makers. Co hosted by  REXSAC and Nordland Research Institute.

Registration for Arctic Frontiers events:

REXSAC activities at Arctic Frontiers in detail:

Arctic Frontier plenary: Powered by Knowledge

Brief outlook by Annika E. Nilsson in the plenary session Powered by Knowledge Monday 27 January, 10.45-12.00, Margarinfrabrikken, Clarion Hotel The Edge

Science session: Local or Global Arctic?

Presentation in the Science session Local or Global Arctic? Wednesday 29 January 2020 11.00-11.30. Margarinfabrikken 1, Clarion Hotel the Edge

Post extraction: Lessons for sustainability assessments

Annika E. Nilsson (speaker), and Dag Avango.

Abstract: The extraction of mineral resources has played a central role in the development of the Arctic region, with a history stretching back for more than a century with impacts on environments, local communities, livelihoods, and cultures. Over time, mines have opened but also closed when the resources were depleted, or the market demand became insufficient to continue operations. While it is easy to say that extractive industries can never be sustainable because they rely on non-renewable resources, it could be more productive to ask under what circumstances extractive industries can nevertheless contribute to locally sustainable development also in a time perspective that reaches beyond the extraction phase. In the coming decade and with some haste, the world must start moving towards a post-petroleum society, with major implications for the Arctic extractive industries and thus for the Arctic region and the people who live there. For communities that currently benefit economically from extraction of oil and gas, a post-petroleum transition can lead to loss of both job opportunities and loss of revenue to funds municipal services. For communities nearby mineral resources needed for green energy technologies, the transition could provide further fuel to the on-going mining boom in the Arctic, potentially accompanied by new opportunities for local development but entailing risks related to competition for land and conflicts about what a desirable local future might look like. It is thus timely to ask what lessons can be drawn from previous experiences about the local impacts of mining on sustainable development, with attention to the time beyond the extraction phase. This presentation builds on insights from research colleagues within the Nordic Centre of Excellence ‘Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities.’ Drawing on past and on-going research in Sweden and Greenland about the impacts of mining on Arctic communities, it lays out an analytical framework for assessing the long-term impacts of extractive industries on sustainable development. This framework looks at extractive industries as part of regional social-ecological-technological system(s) that in turn operate in context of national and international politics and trends. The presentation will furthermore relate these insights to the on-going implementation of the Global Sustainable Development Goals and a call for identifying Arctic-relevant indicators when this global framework is implemented in northern contexts, where we especially highlight the need to include scalar dimensions in the discussion about sustainability.

Side event:

The post-petroleum transition: Implications for local sustainability

Wednesday 29 January 2020, from 15.00-16.00, Venue: Clarion Hotel The Edge, Arbeidskontoret 1

Co-organized by REXSAC and Nordland Research Institute

Combatting climate change requires a rapid transition away from petroleum-based energy sources, with major implications for Arctic communities and countries. For communities that currently benefit from extraction of oil and gas, a post-petroleum transition can lead to loss of both jobs and revenue that is currently essential for basic municipal services, while  places in focus for potential wind or hydropower and for extraction on rare earth minerals for green technologies are facing further competition for land and potential conflicts about what a desirable local future might look like. Such conflicts are already a concern for local and indigenous peoples as well as for the companies that want to get their business ventures up and running. The purpose of this session is to discuss what local sustainability might entail in this post-petroleum transition. It will feature insights from empirical work in localities across the Arctic, perspectives on the scalar dimensions of sustainability, and commentary that brings out the multiple ways of knowing a landscape. We will highlight how energy production is nested in social-ecological-technological systems affect not only energy production but also have major implications for the overall development paths of a region. The aim of this side event is to inspire discussion about the implications for sustainable development locally in Arctic communities that in the coming decades will face a transition away from petroleum-based energy systems at a time when they also have to navigate other pressures, including the impacts of a warming and more unpredictable climate as well as rapid social changes. It will explore paradoxes when climate mitigation efforts come into conflict with other political goals related to sustainable development and discuss the implications for policy making and knowledge production.


Moderator: Annika E. Nilsson, Researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Professor II and Nordland Research Institute.

Panel 1. Research insights on how local perspectives of sustainability matter for post-petroleum

Brigt Dale, Senior Researcher at Nordland Research Institute.

Siri Veland, Senior Researcher at Nordland Research Institute.

Britt Kramvig, Professor at det the Arctic University of Norway, Department of Tourism and Northern Studies.

Panel 2. Transformation with sustainability in mind: Implication for decision makers

Berit Kristoffersen, Associate Professor at the Arctic University of Norway at the Arctic Centre for Sustainable Energy.

Kriss Rokkan Iversen, representative for the Norwegian green party (MDG) in the Troms and Finnmark regional parliament and vice rector at Arctic University of Norway.

Anders Turesson, Swedish Ministry of the Environment, Swedish Ministry of the Environment and chair of the Arctic Council Working Group Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.

Christina Henriksen, Vice President of the Saami Council

Photo: Night View over Tromsø, Norway. Ludovic Charlet / Unsplash