Overline: Policy Brief to the EU Commission
Headline: Roadmap to Decolonial Arctic Research

More inclusive, equal and just ways in which Arctic research is conducted and research programs and funding processes are conceived, these are some of the main goals of the Roadmap to Decolonial Arctic Research. On 19 June 2023, a group of non-Indigenous and Indigenous rights holders and engaged scholars, from RIFS and several other organisations across Europe and the Arctic, presented the Roadmap to Decolonial Arctic Research to the public. The publication addresses the greatest challenges, needs and potentials of Decolonial Arctic Research over the next ten years.

The Arctic trail in Kilpisjärvi, Sápmi - the historical and contemporary homeland of the Sámi. Shutterstock/oana2711

The "Comprehensive Policy Brief to the EU Commission - Roadmap to Decolonial Arctic Research" contains 32 concrete recommendations for action and several best-practice examples to anchor decolonial research in the Arctic. It was developed in a 14-month co-creative process. The process was largely funded by EU-PolarNet 2 under its 2021 call for services.
The Roadmap seeks to change a long-standing imbalance: research in the Arctic has often been conducted largely to benefit the aims of settler societies, while little attention has been given to including Indigenous priorities and ways of knowing. This legacy still impacts research via structures and practices. The document is an evidence-based tool for achieving decolonial innovation in methodology and funding mechanisms in the Arctic research landscape, across the natural and social sciences and the humanities. 

Roadmap process

Since March 2022, the Roadmap was jointly developed in a bottom-up, open writing process by a group of non-Indigenous and Indigenous rights holders, scholars, activists, and community members from across the Circumpolar North. The writing process involved several steps, such as a writing retreat, two online dialogue sessions with EU Commission representatives responsible for polar research, and two rounds of public online consultations and review.


The four concise chapters of the Roadmap to Decolonial Arctic Research, 1) guide the readership through the legal and political dimensions as well as that of research innovation and paradigmatic shifts in Arctic research; 2) offer concrete methodological considerations in carrying out projects; 3)  elaborate on the participation of Indigenous rights holders in the EU research funding structures from a practice perspective, and 4) outline the benefits of Indigenous-led Arctic research and of funding co-creative projects. The Roadmap provides 32 concrete recommendations for actions and a set of best practices for promoting change within research programming and funding structures to advance decolonial principles in Arctic research. Each chapter also presents a vision statement on how to strengthen and firmly anchor decolonial principles in the Arctic research landscape.
In doing so, the Roadmap provides a mechanism for implementing the European Polar Research agenda and the EU White paper on stakeholder engagement in Arctic research.


The task now is to anchor the Roadmap and to move from ambition to implementation, and several started processes have been started which provide excellent opportunities to do so. These include the 4th International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP IV) process and the EU’s research agenda 2025 onwards.
The authors of the Roadmap expect its implementation will lead to better informed research that promotes ethical research values, principles and practices that respect the agency of Arctic communities and the Arctic Indigenous peoples' right to self-determination, and thus contribute to a future for the Arctic that is characterized by fairness and sustainability.

Herrmann, T.M., Brunner Alfani, F., Chahine, A., Doering, N., Dudeck, S., Elster, J., Fjellheim, E., Henriksen, J.E., Hermansen, N., Holm- berg, A., Kramvig, B., Keskitalo, A.M.N., Omma, E.M., Saxinger, G., Scheepstra, A., van der Schot, J. (2023). Comprehensive Policy-Brief to the EU Commission: Roadmap to Decolonial Arctic Research. University of Oulu, Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research- UFZ, The Indigenous Voices (IVO) research group – Álgoálbmogii jienat, Arctic University of Norway UiT, Saami Council. Áltá – Káráš- johka – Leipzig – Oulu. https://phaidra.univie.ac.at/detail/o:1653557