Maintaining Dialogue and Building Capacity – IASC in the Future
By Susan Barr, President, IASC and Larry Hinzman, Vice President, IASC
A primary function of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) has always been to help researchers to identify the strategic priorities and the collaborative investments required to address the gaps in our understanding of the Arctic.
IASC has not set the agenda for research priorities, but has concentrated on setting the table for discussions where scientists may share their discoveries, achievements, data, and their perceptions of the challenges on the horizon. No single country is able to support the breadth and depth of research necessary to keep pace with the changing Arctic. Therefore it is necessary and prudent to gather researchers and key stakeholders from around the Arctic and the world, so that we together may make greater scientific advances, more informed decisions, and better use of limited research and planning resources. The annual Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) and the decadal International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP) are essential venues to create and maintain the open dialogue that is critical for international cooperation and collaborations.
The ASSW provides a forum for individuals and organizations with an interest in Arctic science to meet and coordinate programs, expeditions, scientific cruises and shared use of remote research stations. Each year such international partnerships seem to rise as the consequences of the rapid changes in the Arctic environment, social and civil structures become more imperative, and threats to cultural heritage intensify. Investments in Arctic research funding from national sources must compete against many other legitimate needs; yet the value of research in the Arctic is well justified. The role of the Arctic in global climate dynamics is now well proven, but still not fully understood. Additionally, as sea ice diminishes and access improves, interests in developing business opportunities are expanding. In general, communities, which are anxious to enhance local economies, welcome potential business developments. Research conducted by Arctic scientists contributes to greater understanding of local conditions and possible threats to stable development, thus quantifying and reducing risks to investments.
IASC believes that the best investment in the future of Arctic science is through capacity building of early career scientists. Through the IASC Fellowship program, we have identified many promising young researchers and helped them become more engaged and established in Arctic programs. We believe that by giving them leadership roles early in their careers, we can help them to establish the personal relationships and social networks needed to launch a successful career. It is our hope that through this fellowship program we can help the best and brightest young scientists remain in Arctic science.
Perhaps the best way to envision the future role of IASC is to look at our past. As we have already proven many times, coordination and collaboration among researchers, funding agencies and scientific organizations leads to greater achievements for all, enhanced well-being for Arctic residents and greater understanding of this important part of our planet.