Author: Charlotte Gehrke
Charlotte Gehrke (@CharlyGehrke) is a PhD fellow at Nord University (Bodø, Norway). She was a researcher on the JUSTNORTH project for two years and her PhD is also affiliated with the project. Charlotte is also the managing editor of the Arctic Relations blog (arctic-relations.info).
The JUSTNORTH Project – Towards Just, Equitable and Sustainable Arctic Economies and Societies – is an EU-funded climate action project running from 2020-2023. It combines the expertise of 45 researchers from institutions across Europe and the United States in 17 case studies examining perspectives and values of stake- and rightsholders engaged in Arctic economic development. As the project enters its final stages, researchers, students, and interested laypersons gathered at the Hof Cultural Center in Akureyri, Iceland on October 11 for the JUSTNORTH Open Science Day hosted by the Stefansson Arctic Institute.
The Open Science Day was a chance for JUSTNORTH researchers to share their work with the broader public, policymakers, and other researchers. Interested parties were able to join in person, via Zoom, or watch a YouTube stream. Local researchers and tourism workers were also invited to join in person, and one group of students even flew in all the way from Tromsø, Norway.
The JUSTNORTH project is made up of multiple research teams, some of which investigated theoretical approaches to justice and others explored practical applications of justice via case studies on Arctic economic activities. At the Open Science Day, the project’s three case-study-based research teams (Justice in Transition, Justice in Participation and Governance, andJustice in Scale and Distribution) from Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom presented the results of their fieldwork and analysis.
After opening remarks by Níels Einarsson (Director of the Stefansson Arctic Institute) and Corine Wood-Donnelly (JUSTNORTH’s Scientific Coordinator), the presentations started with the Justice in Transition research group. First, Roman Sidortsov, Anna Badyina, and Ragnhild Freng Dale shared insights on community, policymaker, and industry perceptions of energy transitions in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (USA) and the town of Kiruna (Sweden), the city of Hammerfest (Norway), and the Tana, Lebesby and Porsanger municipalities (Norway) respectively. Next, the Finnish research team made up of Soili Nysten-Haarala, Juho Kähkönen, Jukka Similä, Henri Wallen, and Tanja Joona presented their work on the Arctic railway, mining, and reindeer herding in Finland as part of the Justice in Participation and Governance research group.
The largest Science Day section featuring the Justice in Scale and Distribution research group started with Hele Kiimann who showcased her and Susan Millar’s findings on knowledge production at field research stations in Greenland, Sweden, and Canada. Next, Catherine Chambers brought the Open Science Day back to Iceland investigating questions of justice concerning Icelandic fisheries, and Jón Haukur Ingimundarson and Joan Nymand Larson discussed agricultural and sustainability challenges in South Greenland.
The research team also shared findings on whale-watching tourism, with Maria Wilke reporting on the Húsavik’s tourism sector, Jade Zoghbi sharing insights from her fieldwork in Skjálfandi Bay, and Hannes Hansen-Magnusson and Charlotte Gehrke telling tales of ‘pirates’ and ‘cowboys’ based on their Arctic tourism research in Canada, Iceland, and Norway. Finally, Corine Wood-Donnelly presented her analysis of the values that matter the most in Search and Rescue (SAR) legislation.
The Open Science Day concluded with two panels summarizing the key policy recommendations and research findings of JUSTNORTH’s 17 case studies, with virtual participation from Adam Stepien, Elena Conde, Belen Requena, and Valentin Clavé-Mercier. Overall, research group leaders emphasized the need to truly take local perspectives into account in economic and sustainable development projects. Speakers also emphasized the importance of taking past projects and injustices into account when assessing economic developments in the region.
In discussing the challenges that the project had to overcome, Tanja Joona and Corine Wood-Donnelly noted the loss of JUSTNORTH’s 18th case study based at the Russian Northern Arctic Federal University. This case study was removed by the EU amid the geopolitical fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In their concluding remarks, Corine Wood-Donnelly and Roman Sidortsov stressed the importance of taking justice as a starting point for Arctic economic and sustainable development policy.
Among the justice research forthcoming from the JUSTNORTH project are two books: Theorising Justice: A Primer for Social Scientists (September 2023) edited by Johanna Ohlsson and Stephen Przybylinski, and Arctic Justice: Society, Environment and Governance (May 2023) edited by Ohlsson and Corine Wood-Donnelly (both published by Bristol University Press).
The next JUSTNORTH Open Science Day is scheduled for June 2023 in Madrid, hosted by the Universidad Complutense Madrid. For more information about the JUSTNORTH project, please visit the official JUSTNORTH website (justnorth.eu).
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