Risk governance of climate-related systemic risk in the Arctic (ARCT-RISK)

Understanding and adapting to climate change is one of the greatest ongoing societal challenges. The primary objective of the ARCT-RISK project (Risk governance of climate-related systemic risk in the Arctic) is to develop knowledge and tools to make sense of and deal with effects of climate change on society’s ability to protect the life and health of its citizens and to maintain critical infrastructure and function. The starting point of the project is the key role the Arctic plays in understanding and mitigating the challenge of climate adaptation, as the climate already is changing more rapidly in these regions than anywhere else in the world.

This means that successful risk governance strategies developed in response to destabilized climate conditions in Arctic locations serve as important guidance for future climate change adaptation in mainland Norway and other relevant parts of the world. Snow avalanche risk management in Longyearbyen will be used as a case to study and develop approaches to risk governance that will reduce systemic risks (i.e. risks related to a combination of climate change, natural hazards and rippling effects on citizens, infrastructure and societal functions). To achieve the project’s objectives a transdisciplinary approach involving perspectives from technology, safety science, natural science and social science is applied.

The project partners will collaborate closely with local stakeholders in Longyearbyen to achieve the project objectives. The most important of these are:

1) to improve and integrate fragmented steps in risk governance;

2) to demonstrate how to assess and manage uncertainties associated with climate-related systemic risk governance;

3) to make sense of how real-time data, expert knowledge and local knowledge can be combined to control natural hazards;

4) to assess effective strategies for climate change adaptation;

5) demonstrate transferability of and innovation based on project results.

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and has received 12 million in support from RCN over a three-year period. The project is a collaboration between NTNU and Arctic Safety Centre/UNIS and is led by Eirik Albrechtsen (NTNU and adjunct professor in the Arctic Safety Centre). The Arctic Geophysics and Arctic Technology departments at UNIS are partners in the project, as well as several local actors (the Governor of Svalbard, Longyearbyen  Local Community Council and Telenor Svalbard).

This project helps to build up a professional environment within Arctic safety, as well as involving two departments at UNIS and providing experience of how a cross-disciplinary collaboration between science and safety works.

Read more: RCN grants 12 million to Arctic Safety Centre project

A large debris flow occured close to the cemetary in Longyearbyen on 15 October 2016. Professor Hanne Christiansen pictured to the left. Photo: Ole Humlum/UNIS

A large debris flow occured close to the cemetery in Longyearbyen on 15 October 2016. Photo: Ole Humlum/UNIS

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