Letter from the President

The University of the Arctic – UArctic – was announced with the vision of “shared voices” in 1998 by the Arctic governments and the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. 

By Lars Kullerud, President, UArctic

Originally published in the UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2024

While UArctic has developed over the past 25 years, we have seen parallel processes addressing the need to move towards shared voices between the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, the governments, and other northerners. Examples include the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, a similar process for the Sámi in some Nordic countries, and increased self-determination for Greenland. At the same time, the science community has been striving to move from the perspective of research about or for the peoples of the North to research with and preferably led by the peoples of the North on their terms.

The core of this work is to acknowledge and realize the truth about past and present wrongdoings. Only by accepting the wounds will it be possible to build a common future. It remains a priority for UArctic to be a constructive part of this process and, through that, contribute to a strong, engaged, informed, and dynamic North, creating better lives and environments for all northerners.

It is really encouraging to steadily meet more and more students from northern communities who show leadership, energy, and will to build a common future for all northerners. They revitalize languages and cultures, innovate new businesses and create jobs in the North, build homes, or wish to fill important jobs as teachers and health workers.

At a time when it is important to accept and address the wounds from the past, the present-day leaders, including us in academia, risk inflicting a new set of harm, this time towards nature and future generations. We have been too slow, and too shortsighted, to act on climate change and biodiversity loss in time. Scientists have documented beyond any doubt that we will not deliver on the Paris 1.5-degree target, and we might also fail on even more severe trajectories towards a sustainable future. Humanity is collectively on the path to a new set of wounds, put on future generations by us.

The future generations deserve that present institutions, experts and leaders do our outmost in addressing our own wrongdoings, including the new ones. The hope is that the collective intellectual capability of northern Indigenous Peoples and all academic institutions concerned with the North and the Arctic will be able to ensure that we do not repeat our mistakes.

[Originally published in the UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2024. Read all articles here]