"This has been the first year outside the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and almost a return to normal. For UArctic, it unfortunately did not end up being normal because of the pause of Russian institutions from our cooperation.

Nevertheless, 2023 has been very fruitful. We have many new members both in Europe and North America and in more southern countries like India, which opens doors for even further cooperation among our membership. That is a fantastic development. The UArctic Chairs have also become a very productive group of scientists and experts. Working together, they take initiative on many fronts in education, research and outreach, on issues that are important to the Arctic. This has proven to be a highly beneficial approach to collaboration and has produced quality outputs to complement the already well-functioning UArctic Thematic Networks and Institutes.

UArctic has also started working on two strategic initiatives of the UArctic Board. The first is maritime safety cooperation in the Arctic. Through a partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation, we are aiming to develop a stable long-term program that supports sustainability in maritime operations in the Arctic and provides new opportunities for research and education cooperation. We hope this can develop into a fruitful collaboration for years to come.

Climate change is another strategic focus area of our Board. Some may recall from high school that the transition to water from ice, at the same temperature, takes a lot of energy. This transition is the key to why polar and northern regions are essential in the global climate systems. This is why the Arctic is apparently unproportionally important in climate research. I recommend reading the new UArctic report summarizing all Arctic research by topic and actors. You will find many surprising facts.

Continued research to understand the dynamics of our systems and human systems’ links to climate change in the Arctic is not only important to the Arctic peoples and ecosystems, but for the whole world. A paper published in late 2022 by Armstrong McKay et al recognizes sixteen global tipping points with potential for massive global consequences. Fourteen of the sixteen tipping points are directly linked to cold places on Earth, either in the North or Antarctica. This includes processes we all know, like melting of glaciers and polar sea ice as well as thawing of permafrost.

According to most scientific reports, it is highly likely that we will face a world past the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement, even if mankind does its utmost to reduce emissions. The only possible future must include substantial emission cuts as well as various measures to adapt to the new world we face. In addition, it is important to find effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases, like taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through forest growth or through carbon capture technologies from air, as well as through industry processes. But there might be other ways in which we in the North can help reduce the risk of the most devastating consequences of climate change. Many crazy ideas have been proposed on how one could deal with climate change, like covering glaciers with a blanket, or making artificial icebergs in the Arctic. Some ideas may be more acceptable, like increasing algae growth in the ocean. In October, the UArctic Thematic Network on Frozen Arctic Conservation launched a report, done as a collaboration with GRID-Arendal and University of Lapland, that gives an overview of all such ideas, in total 61 ideas varying from crazy to quite normal. I highly recommend that you all read the report.

In the coming year, UArctic will continue to develop other strategic initiatives. These may include increased focus on education, job training, and innovation, serving small communities' needs in the North, and the effects of the global green shift on northern communities, northern nature and landscapes as well as northern economics.

The highlight of 2024 will be the Arctic Congress in Bodo, Norway. I hope many of you are able to join us there. We are expecting up to 1,000 people gather in this beautiful location by the ocean in the Norwegian Arctic, just above the Arctic Circle. The event will come to a close on the first day of the year when the sun will not go below the horizon, bringing us to the nightless night.

To conclude, I wish you all a happy holiday season, and all the best for the new year!"

On December 7, 2023

Lars Kullerud, UArctic President