By: Bo Andersen, Leader of the Steering Committee, The Fram Centre
It is difficult to predict in detail what will be required in 10 to 30 years time to ensure the sound management of regions in the High North. However, we can be reasonably certain that some elements will be of significance:
- The effect of climate change that is mainly man-made. This includes most elements related to air, land and sea.
- Effects of industrial and other human activity related to pollution and conflicts in connection with land use.
- Loss of natural diversity due to human activity.
In addition, the Fram Centre must be able to address new problems that arise in connection with research carried out in the Fram Centre collaboration or among the members individually, as well as the requirements that users see on an ongoing basis.
Evaluation led to change
The evaluation of the Fram Centre, which was conducted in 2019, was mostly positive.The main negative element was related to the governance of the collaboration. Based on the evaluation, the Ministry of Climate and Environment has changed the collaboration’s form of governance. The collaboration is now led by a steering committee consisting of eight representatives from the member institutions and the research collaboration, as well as myself as an external leader. The deputy leader, currently from the Norwegian Polar Institute, is the academic leader of the collaboration.
In addition to the change in the form of governance, the management, together with the members, will now look at possible changes in the collaboration’s research profile and improve contact with the users of the research. Therefore, it is important to remember that the collaboration is there to conduct research that is important for the management of the High North, and that requires the complementary expertise that exists among the member institutions. This work will also require a review to ensure the correct balance between natural sciences and social research.
The steering committee has assessed that this strategic work requires a period of time that lasts until the summer of 2021. Therefore, we have decided that the 2021 budgeting process should follow the same guidelines used in previous years. The steering committee has now recommended to the Ministry of Climate and Environment that the various flagship research programmes and the Plastic in the Arctic programme should receive the same amounts in 2021 as they did in 2020. The steering committee assesses that the project portfolio proposed by the research collaboration for 2021 is well within the framework set by the ministries. The ongoing structure of the collaboration will come to an end during 2021.
The steering committee has now been in place for three months and has, alongside the strategic work, established a dissemination group and a user group. The dissemination group will help the collaboration become better known and the user group will ensure that input is provided from the most important users of the Fram Centre’s research results. It is especially important that users provide input related to the ongoing strategic work.
It is important to point out that both the collaboration’s researchers and the member institutions have shown a very positive attitude regarding the changes the new form of governance will entail. All members have signed a new collaborative agreement in accordance with the new form of governance.
The sum of the total research activity that member institutions conduct is many times greater than that which is conducted through the Fram Centre collaboration. Therefore, it is important that the collaboration concentrates itself as complementary disciplines that require the breadth of expertise that members possess. This may also apply to the start-up of new directions of research that members or users see as being important.
With the positive attitude I see in the members and at the ministries, I am convinced that over the next few years the Fram Centre will be an important contributor of research which is an important foundation for the best possible management of the High North.