The 6th Open Assembly of the Northern Research Forum “Our Ice Dependent World”

Addressing the three „poles“, the Arctic, the Himalayans and Antarctica was held in Hveragerði, Iceland 3. - 6. September 2011.

The Open Assembly was organized by the Northern Research Forum (NRF) and its co-organizing partners from Norway, and hosted by the University of Akureyri in Iceland.

The main objective was to address the impact of dwindling ice – terrestrial, the Arctic, the Himalayans and Antarctica as well as ocean bound – globally and on the complex interface of nature and society in all climatic zones of the world. In light of the man-made part of climate change, particularly meaning global warming, natural ice as a common heritage of humankind is gradually becoming a concept of global politics. Indeed, “a world without ice” would not only look different, but affect societal life in quite dramatic ways on a global scale.

The focus of the Assembly was on the interrelationship and working of the society/nature interface addressing two intertwined questions: First, what will are the economic, industrial, cultural and political consequences of the accelerating global ice? Second, what economic, industrial, cultural and political possibilities and challenges are facing humankind in light of global ice reduction? These and other emerging questions were discussed in four panels - under the sub-titles of A global overview; Humanity, communities, minds, perceptions and knowledge on ice; International law, ‘soft laws’, and governance on ice; and Can we imagine a world without ice? – based on 40 presentations by panelists and NRF young researchers from four continents, Asia, Australia, Europe, Russia and North America.

This setting and ‘dialogue-building, which is the main aim of the NRF, was fruitful and successful, and created a lively, open discussion – with few hundred of questions, comments and other contributions – by the participants of around 150, mostly from the Arctic states and the Himalayan region’s countries (Bhutan, China, India and Nepal). Among them were young and senior researchers, students, and politicians and civil servants ranging from heads of states to community leaders.

The Northern Research Forum provides an international platform for an effective and open dialogue between members of the research community and a wide range of stakeholders including researchers, educators, politicians, business leaders, civil servants, community leaders, NGO representatives, and resource users and managers. The NRF both implement the interplay between science and politics, and facilitates interdisciplinary research on issues and problems relevant to the contemporary Northern and Arctic agenda and believed to have global significance.

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