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Co-creating research projects – Indigenous rightsholders and researchers act together


You are invited as rightsholders and stakeholders in Arctic research, to provide insights, experiences, opinions, criticism, ideas and, best practice models in collaborative and community based participatory research which can include also aspects regarding COVID-19 conditions.

You might want to read our experiences “Co-creating research projects – some personal experiences from Saami Council and Arctic researchers”.



We consider the co-creation of knowledge including the joint development of research proposals as crucial to tackle the societal challenges currently faced in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic. In the section below we aim to collect a broad range of input from indigenous knowledge holders and researchers to improve the quality of co-designed research processes.


This assessment of collaborative work between indigenous rightsholders and researchers from all disciplines – social sciences, humanities and natural sciences – will result in the development of a joint public statement meant to contribute to the long-term discussion about equity-based research collaboration between Indigenous communities, organisations and individuals and scientists, all in the interest of serving the needs of the people in the Arctic. On a smaller scale, these collaborations have already been going on for some time.  Now we aim to implement these kinds of efforts in larger, multiple partner research projects. The EU for instance asks frequently in the Horizon 2020 call texts for a co-designed approach and enhanced engagement of and the interaction with residents from local communities and indigenous societies. We would like to lobby co-creative research perspectives at national and international funding organisations relevant to the Arctic.


Your forum posts will also feed into the process of preparation of a statement to funding agencies, an online workshop during the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) in 2021 and a face-to-face workshop during ASSW 2022 as well as into a session with funding organisations during ICASS X conference in 2021. Furthermore, we will publish an extended article to which we invite you as interested stakeholders to contribute as authors. Your knowledge and experiences will feed into an open digital best practice tool developed by the EU-PolarNet project.



We have chosen an open approach where you can – anonymously or with your name – freely share your thoughts and comments as a first step to gain as many insights as possible. We are open for any kind of comment, but as organisers of this forum, we will remove contributions that we consider as being non-respectful or discriminatory.

You can post with your name and/or institution or with an anonymous nickname. Please, indicate your country and if you are Indigenous rightsholder, researcher or of any other function. Feel free to provide links to relevant projects and to contribute long or short statements as you wish. You can also reply to statements and comments of others.

The text that you write in the forum will be visible directly after submission.


Thank you for your contribution!



This is an initiative of the Saami Council, EU-PolarNet, Austrian Polar Research Institute, University of Groningen/Arctic Centre, Nordland Research Institute, the University of Northern Iowa/ArctiCentre, Institute for Advanced Studies in Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, IASSA, IASC and the UArctic.

  • Elle Merete Omma, Head of EU Unit, Saami Council
  • Annette Scheepstra, EU-PolarNet, EU Polar Cluster, Arctic Centre/Uni of Groningen (NL)
  • Gertrude Saxinger, Austrian Polar Research Institute, EU-PolarNet, IASSA-council (AT)
  • Brigt Dale, Research Director, Nordland Research Institute (NOR)
  • Andrey Petrov, IASSA president, ArctiCentre/Uni of Nothern Iowa (US)
  • Kirsi Latola, UArctic, EU-PolarNet, European Polar Board, Thule Institute/Uni of Oulu (FI)
  • Vilena Valeeva, IASS, Institute for Advanced Studies, Potsdam (GER)
  • Nina Döring, IASS, Institute for Advanced Studies, Potsdam (GER)
  • Thora Herrmann, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (GER)
  • Stephan Dudeck, European University at St. Petersburg, Uni of Lapland (RUS/FI)
  • Justin Milton, Ikaarvik, Canada
  • Britt Kramvig, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • Shelly Elverum, Ikaarvik, Canada
  • Kathrine Wilson, SmartIce, Canada


This initiative is funded by IASC – International Arctic Science Committee, EU-PolarNet, ArctiCentre/Uni of Northern Iowa (US), Nordland Research Institute (NOR), Saami Council, Arctic Centre/University of Groningen (NL), Austrian Polar Research Institute APRI and supported by UArctic and IASSA.  

APRI is partner of the EU Horizon 2020 project “EU-PolarNet 2 – Co-ordinating and Co-designing the European Polar Research Area“. Grant agreement ID: 101003766

Thank you for your contribution! Post your insights, experiences, opinions, criticism, ideas and, best practice models in the section below “leave a reply”:

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Aditya Pankaj says:

    Hello Madam/Sir,
    I want to submit a project for arctic research and monitoring. I want to work and explore it, I am an analytical chemist and researcher. I got this info from the ASSW 20222 workshop.

  • Hello. I would like to share the link to a relevant resource I manage for the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. It is a webpage with resources for conducting research with northern communities –

    Best wishes,

  • The Arctic region, which holds a fragile environment and communities, requires special attention during COVID-19 health crisis. In addition to human-induced climate change and alarming rate of melting sea ice and loss of glacier mass, resilience of the Arctic communities has seriously been threatened by the pandemic. While the Arctic regions of Russia (Murmansk being the fifth most affected region) has been experiencing a sharp increase in infection, Arctic economies have experienced enormous slowdown apart from the public health issues. For instance, Norwegian economy has changed radically due to tumbling oil price and uncertainty in global markets. Tourism sector has also been heavily affected in Greenland and Svalbard. If the lockdown and cancellations continue, layoffs and bankruptcies are expected in Arctic travel industry. A briefing document has been published for Senior Arctic Officials by the Arctic Council, in which governance is underlined in the section of “knowledge gaps and areas for potential action”. Apart from short-, medium-, and longer-term measures to be taken by the senior officials, this document highlights the necessity to develop more comprehensive governance models at all levels. Accessing to acute medical and nursing care is asserted as insufficient as well as limited number of respirators and isolations rooms. This condition affects the resilience and makes the communities even more vulnerable. At that point harmonizing data, ensuring local surveillance of the virus and improving coordination as well synergies have been suggested to reinforce public health systems both at a local and regional level.
    The development of expedient adaption and response strategies becomes an imperative process in which all actors are centrally preoccupied. However, adaptation and response process remain as a substantially unexplored field and therefore entail broad interdisciplinary studies. How sustainable development can be associated with the notion of development in the Arctic is the main question in this context. Sustainability can regain its normative and critical edge as long as tensions emerging from different interpretations of sustainability are recognized. At this point, in addition to narrower or wider interpretation of the scope, “bottom-up” and “top-down” models for sustainable development implementation become the main topics of discussion. To be more precise, while narrower interpretations tend to focus on nature conversation solely, wider interpretations acknowledge nature conversation as one of the multiple goals in sustainable development.
    As the success of the sustainability transformation becomes possible through an epistemic community consisting of dedicated scientists, indigenous representatives, and policy-makers, the Arctic Council appointed all working groups to work dedicatedly. This epistemic community allowed the Council to have success in assessment work and achieve significant results. In addition to general knowledge gaps such as insufficient studies regarding different spatial and temporal scales and limited connectivity between theoretical and empirical studies as well as minimal role of humanities research, there are also other research gaps specific to the Arctic case. Above all, there is still limited knowledge about non-indigenous population in the Arctic which results in rudimentary understanding of their non-traditional economies. As sustainable development is closely associated with the economy, investigating the methods for developing partnership with local businesses becomes highly essential. Moreover, empowering the next generation of leaders comes to the forefront as a significant method of boosting Arctic governance.
    Consequently, there is an urging need for a new framework for Arctic sustainability to address aforementioned research gaps efficiently and effectively. In order to fulfill these research gaps, further studies and international projects are needed based upon adaptive governance models within the Arctic.

  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub says:

    Co-design of projects is a highly important issue. Yet, how to address this in practice is still rather difficult from the scientists perspective. I would like to share some of these thoughts so maybe they can be addressed also by funding institutions in the future:
    – how to find partners (in both ways) that are interested and have the expertise in the relevant topics? From my experience my PhD student went out with (qualitative and quantitative) interview questions that seemed relevant from a science perspective, without co-design of the project in the beginning at that time. Luckily, based on some earlier experience, we did hit some of the concerns of indigenous people with respect to natural resources they depend on (turned out to be mostly fish, while we originally interested in biodiversity more broadly. But first paper then fully concentrated on fish and only second more broadly addressed global change drivers and fish, so we changed our plans after the interviews). After this first round of interviews it would be easier to co-design research as we sensed the most important issues to indigenous people in the region and also have the contacts now.
    – co-designing research projects would require resources well before submitting a proposal for project funding on the indigenous and scientist’s side. This is different as for ‘traditional’ science proposals the PI or a small group of researchers could easily think about and write up the proposal themselves. Hence, funding institutions might need to think about schemes on how to foster this pre-proposal work which is so important (actually research by itself). It would probably need to include travel budgets etc.
    – as an observer to the Arctic council (CAFF group) it was interesting to see an initiative (ie. Arcticfire led by the Gwich’in Council International, launched by indigenous, which now gets complemented by relevant experts from science. This could be a practical way to go, that indigenous reach out on such protected platforms with relevant questions to identify researchers interested to collaborate on these topics. The Arctic Council or IASC are very well positioned to facilitate such interaction and finding good matches.

    Happy to discuss more if relevant!
    Best wishes – Gabriela Schaepman-Strub

  • The Department of Cultural Heritage of the Gwich’in Tribal Council may be interested in this work. Thank-you.

  • Nice initiative,
    I´m one of the partners it the INTERACT III project, leading WP 9. The main objective of the WP 9 is to work with the tourist industry and local and Indigenous Peoples. We know that the main negative change for sámi reindeer herding is that large areas of grazing land are decreasing. Herders now no longer have recourse to alternative pastures when the grazing land is locked under layers of ice, due to climate change. All grazing grounds are being used, and back-up areas that were traditionally the “lifeline” during difficult winters no longer exist. As reindeer pasture has become more limited, access to education and temporary job opportunities has expanded. In summary, these two changes have crept up on the reindeer herders and the younger generation has grown up with this. What do young reindeer herders think about the future, and how can the research community contribute to a sustainable development?

  • Thanks for reaching out. We run engineering educations partly in Greenland. In that relation, we possess teaching and research infrastructure in Greenland. We are concerned with research that can improve the living conditions and sustainability in the arctic societies. Our disciplines over building design, technology and constructions to infrastructure (such as transport, water, energy, waste) and societal planning. By engagement of researchers and local companies/authorities in the education and of students in the research we obtain inherent and direct community engagement. We are open for collaborations and common proposal development.

  • I am an environmental historian who has been working for several years from historical documentation (travel accounts, newspapers, missionaries archives, administrative reports, etc.) on the traditional practices of subarctic indigenous peoples and therefore on their ancestral rights, particularly concerning hunting, fishing and forestry. More specifically, I study the Mohawk, Innu (Canada) and Aïnu (Sapporo) communities. Your project therefore appears to me to be particularly innovative and promising in terms of reclaiming the rights of indigenous peoples and I will be very happy to participate in it.

  • jeanne Gherardi says:

    I’m coordinating an interdisciplinary project in which close interactions with local communities is essential. We built our project after consulting local partners to make sure that our project was of interest for them. This project is then based on valuable field trips where exchanges and discussions can be built with locals. However, due to the pandemic period, all field trips are on hold, without a clear view on how this can evolve. We are of course considering alternative ways to interact with those actors, through social networks etc, but the value of human interactions will be missing.
    In addition, many of us agree on the difficulty of co-building a research project with locals, when calls for projects already define some research directions and topics. Research co-production would only be possible if locals are involved from the very first step , ie , in the definition of research orientation and funds.

  • It is an excellent initiative. I would like to participate.

  • Sílvia Gómez Mestres says:

    Fishing rights for indigenous people (small-scale fishing) have to be preserved

  • I was invited to this “public consultation on co-creating research projects with Indigenous rights holders in Arctic research” through e-mail and I was asked to share the invitation within my networks. Before I can consider sharing this invitation, I need to know more about the rationale behind it?
    Which Indigenous Right-holders are you aiming at in your dialogue? Do you have a wish to include parliamentarian representatives of the Sámi people in the public consultation? Will you act according to this wish (independent on if the answer is yes or no)? Do you care?
    A random snow-ball sampling like this – how representative do you deem it to be? Does representativity matter to you? Is quantity (a lot of data) more important than quality (which voices needs to be heard) for you?
    Have you considered collective consent?
    Have you considered any other ways of a dialogue?
    In conclusion: Give me at least one good reason why I (a Sámi right-holder and scholar) should trust your choice of rather un-controlled dialogue method to a sufficient level, for sharing your invitation in my networks?

    • Dear Lena Maria! Great to hear from you – long time no see! Thank you very much for your questions! We have chosen purposefully a qualitative and not a quantitative approach in this online consultation. The reason is, that we want not presume topics – as it would be the nature of a quantitative pre-set questionnaire. Rather, we want to have a first assessment of “open-ended” thoughts, of collecting experiences, hearing about good or and maybe not so successful projects, claims and visions of all involved etc. We ask in the description of this consultation, that individuals should – be it anonymous or with clear name – identify if they speak on themselves or for a community or organisation, if they are Indigenous or not, if they are scholars from different disciplines. The data will be analysed, with the method of structured qualitative content analysis, in early March. In doing so, we get also a sense of who participated and how different groups have been represented in the assessment in terms of numbes. Based on this, we come up with results showing the manifold topics raised by individuals, communities and organisations. These results will be discussed by the end of March during a public Workshop at ASSW 2021 (online) as well as in June 2021 during an online workshop at ICASS X. The results of these dialogues will feed into publications – to which we are inviting interested co-authors – and into a public statement to which we invite Indigenous and science organisations to sign up to (after having them consulted again on the statement’s content). With this dialogue based open approach we hope to trigger a long-term dialogue, raise awareness in the science field (including among funding organisations) for the claims and concerns as well as interests of Indigenous people and researchers in the Arctic. We would be very grateful to you, if you could spread this information in your circles and if you find this activity useful and valuable to contribute yourself! Merry X-mas and best wishes, Gerti

  • Dear all, excellent idea. Thanks for it. Our research infrastructure is ready to offer Josef Svoboda station in Svalbard for colaborative research. We would appreciate to participate on proposed project.

    • Dear Josef! This is great news!
      We are currently assessing the experiences, prospects etc of such collaborative projects from a variety of individuals here in this online-forum. They will be analysed, discussed during a ASSW 2021 workshop and jointly published. Therefore, it would be awesome if you could write a few thoughts here in the forum – long or short as you wish – about the perspectives from your discipline and field and how collaborative research could shape at Josef Svoboda station. Also, we would be glad, if you could spread the link to this online consultation within your networks, since we are eager to have also the natural sciences perspective in the assessement. Best christmas wishes, Gerti