Research and education strategy for Svalbard underway

Research and education strategy for Svalbard underway

Top image: Longyearbyen seen from Sarkofagen. Photo: Anja Fleig/UNIS

The Ministry of Education and Research has commissioned the Research Council of Norway to provide input on an overall strategy for research and higher education in Svalbard. The process will be inclusive and broad-based and UNIS will assist in the work on the education strategy.

10 January 2017
Text: Mette Mila/Carol B. Eckman (translation), The Research Council of Norway

The Research Council of Norway has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Research to provide input on an overall strategy for research and higher education in Svalbard and develop a separate strategy for Ny-Ålesund.

The Research Council was commissioned to carry out this assignment by the Ministry of Education and Research on 29 November 2016. The task was first announced in the white paper on Svalbard (Meld. St.32 (2015–2016)).

– Research is and will continue to be important for Svalbard. The upcoming strategies are crucial, and will help to enhance quality and promote cooperation on Svalbard research in the future, says Fridtjof Unander, Executive Director of the Division for Energy, Resources and the Environment at the Research Council.

About the strategies
The Government’s overall strategy for research and higher education in Svalbard will establish a framework and set a clear agenda in the area. The objective is to enhance quality, expand cooperation and increase openness, as well as to improve resource utilisation. The input will give the Government a basis on which to draw up its final strategy. The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) will assist the Research Council with the aspects of the work related to higher education in Svalbard.

The research strategy for Ny-Ålesund is to be a broadly supported, scientific strategy that sets research priorities that will motivate the research groups working there. The strategy will also be a tool for making practical adaptations and implementing the organisational and research-policy framework set out in the overall strategy. This will be a research strategy from the Research Council, but it will have a wider scope than the Research Council’s portfolio and instruments.

Short deadlines
The Ministry of Education and Research would like to have both strategies completed before the summer. Since the research strategy for Ny-Ålesund will be based on the overall strategy, the latter must be drawn up first.

– Planning is underway, and we hope that the research community is also ready to take part in the process, even though the deadlines are short, says Mr Unander.

Plans for a broad-based dialogue with all relevant actors
The Research Council will lay a foundation that ensures the relevant ministries and subordinate agencies, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Governor of Svalbard, Kings Bay, trade and industry, relevant public agencies, and national as well as international research and education stakeholders can provide input during the process.

– Input from the relevant institutions will be crucial in the ongoing efforts to ensure constructive input both to the overall strategy for research and education in Svalbard and to the Ny-Ålesund strategy, says Mr Unander.

More information about the task and how the input process will be carried out will be provided in the second half of January.

Evaluation
The Research Council has also launched an evaluation of Norwegian polar research, and a key aspect of this will be evaluating Svalbard research. The report is expected to be presented before the summer of 2017.

The work with the research strategy is also described on the webpages of the Ministry of Education and Research (Norwegian only).