Press Release from Umeå University

Umeå unites global Arctic researchers

[2017-06-09] Researchers, decision-makers and opinion makers from all over the world have gathered at Umeå University to discuss the future of the Arctic. One of the questions that is highlighted during the conference is of course climate change.

Peter Sköld, president of IASSA, and Krister Stoor, researcher at Umeå University, at the opening ceremony of ICASS IX in Aula Nordica at Umeå University. Photo: Ulrika Bergfors

ICASS IX or the 9th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences opened on Thursday 8 June and carries on until Monday 12 June. The conference is held every three years at different locations within the Arctic region. 800 participants have come from the entire Arctic region, and beyond, and forms a grand finale for Umeå University’s position as host university for the Arctic research body IASSA, International Arctic Social Sciences Association, which organises the ICASS conference.

On Sunday, the General Assembly will agree upon a suitable replacement to take over the presidency and hence will organise the conference in three years’ time. As it stands, Tomsk State University in Russian Siberia, Anchorage in the US, or Archangelsk together with Iowa in Russia and the US respectively are candidates to the post. On Sunday night, the two Arctic researchers who win the IASSA Awards will also be revealed.

The Arctic is suffering. Temperatures are constantly peaking, and climate change is one of the issues that stand at the centre of ICASS IX.

“Our ambition is for the conference to lead to tangible suggestions on how to prepare our Arctic societies for what awaits them,” says Peter Sköld, director of the Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University, and president of IASSA.

It is no coincidence that the conference is being held in Umeå. Sweden and Umeå have taken huge leaps forward on the Arctic research playing field over the last few years.

“Our northern position and the fact that we run Sweden’s only arctic research centre conducting research spanning across all scientific fields definitely makes us the right university to lead by being a source for knowledge on Arctic issues,” says Hans Adolfsson, Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University.

The programme of the event, entitled People and Place, consists of 22 parallel themes and over 900 lectures on for instance Indigenous rights, the environment, tourism, migration, health, education and the spread of disease. A debatable issue is how the Arctic – in which eight countries with several Indigenous peoples and nationalities are included – should be governed and coordinated, and what rules and regulations should apply.

Another financial and political hot potato is how the once so inaccessible natural resources such as minerals, natural gases, oil and fish should now be extracted and used in a sustainable way, and who should own the rights to them.

Want to follow the conference?

Take a look at recordings of the opening ceremony and the plenary sessions that take place each morning of the conference 8-12 June.

ICASS IX on film

For more information, please contact:

Peter Sköld
Coordinator at the Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University
Phone: +46 90-786 63 47

Gabriella Nordin,
Coordinator at the Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University
Phone: +46 90-786 56 44

Editor: Anna Lawrence

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