What sets the northern parts of Norway apart from most other nations with land and sea areas north of the Arctic Circle is the fact that people actually live here.
By: Helge M Markusson, Leader Fram Centre Dissemination Group
The two most important pillars of the Fram Centre’s research collaboration are research and dissemination. This was affirmed when changes to the governance structure were adopted in 2020 and 2021.
The new way in which the collaboration is organised strengthens the Steering Committee and establishes two new research programmes. Dissemination efforts have also been adjusted, as the Steering Committee has decided to establish a dissemination group that includes representatives from several Fram Centre institutions.
Our task is to draw up long-term strategies for communication and dissemination of research results, and to follow up on these using annual action plans. The current strategy document was drawn up in 2021 and has been approved by the Steering Committee. It applies until the end of 2026.
The aim is for our communication to help improve Norway’s reputation and quality with regard to the country’s custodianship of climate and environment in the High North. We will achieve this by disseminating and engaging in dialogue about research results obtained through Fram Centre collaborations. We will contribute to and initiate joint communication projects and events that cultivate community, synergy, and added value for our member institutions.
The priority target groups are:
- Norwegian and relevant international decision-makers in politics and environmental management
- The Norwegian public, including organisations, businesses, and schools
- Research communities in Norway and abroad
- Norwegian and international media
This is a challenging task, which requires knowledge and understanding of the target groups. As an example, most of the Norwegians in the target group possess knowledge we view as elementary, but this can by no means be assumed to apply to an international audience.
Visits beget visitors. To this end, we participate in various conferences and meetings, both nationally and internationally, to maintain contact with potential partners and keep abreast of developments. Last autumn, I participated in the Arctic Symposium in Brussels and was once again reminded that I live in a remote and virtually untouched area that is home to small, scattered settlements consisting largely of indigenous people who make a living from sealing and reindeer herding. A picturesque fishing village in Lofoten, with small red cabins surrounded by snow-capped mountains: that was the image that adorned the backdrop of the stage for the two days of the conference.
It is a representation of a reality that we do not fully recognise. Once again, we need to take the time to explain what we consider self-explanatory – the fact that the Gulf Stream makes the Norwegian coast such a perfect area to live and do business. Yes, Norway has indigenous people and there are incompatibilities between traditional reindeer herding and industrial activities.
However, what sets the northern parts of Norway apart from most other nations with land and sea areas north of the Arctic Circle is the fact that people actually live here.
If you study a map of Norway and look up information about the places you see there, you will find very modern urban settlements. Each is a link in a long chain that wends its way in and out of our many fjords, from Sandnessjøen all the way up to Kirkenes. There is even a link in High-Arctic Svalbard – the vibrant town of Longyearbyen.
Approximately four million people live north of the Arctic Circle, and more than ten per cent of them reside in Norway. If Brussels is to be believed, we live in a different sort of Arctic. On countless occasions I have listened to lectures calling for the protection and preservation of the Arctic. Almost as if it were some kind of reservation, an international nature park full of indigenous people and polar bears. There may be some areas like that here in northern Norway, but the picture the lecturers paint is far from accurate.
Nevertheless, we can use this interpretation to our advantage – to stop long-range pollution, for example. Everything is interconnected. The High North is not an isolated part of the world. If you mess with the Arctic, you are also messing with the rest of the world. Even Coca-Cola has made use of that message. You may not enjoy sweet, sticky soft drinks. But the Coca-Cola Company certainly knows how to sell its product!
Business activities, community services, and public transport – everything leaves its mark. How can we be good custodians of Norway’s nature?
At the end of the day, that’s what the five research programmes at the Fram Centre are all about. The importance and relevance of this research is undeniable. And this is why it is crucial that we manage to reach those who can and will use it.
The dissemination of research results should not be confused with advertising. However, it can still be useful to study what makes people change their attitudes, thereby leading to a better world. Here we can learn from the marketing industry, without sacrificing our credibility and scientific foundations.