On 11-12 October 2022, two dozen scholars gathered for a seminar on Svalbard and geopolitics, for a long day filled with stimulating discussions and varied approaches to the topic. The seminar was organized by FNI senior researcher Andreas Østhagen, as part of the GEO-SVALBARD and GEOSEAS projects at FNI. 

"There are many misunderstandings when it comes to Svalbard and geopolitics. It is important to start with getting the facts straight, especially regarding Norway’s undisputed sovereignty and the different provisions in the 1920 Treaty. But this workshop also gave an opportunity to raise interesting questions when it comes to geopolitical changes not only related to Svalbard, but in the Arctic at large", says Østhagen.

FNI senior researcher Andreas Østhagen organized a brilliant workshop with experts on Arctic geopolitics in Svalbard

Lively discussions and assessments of the pre-submitted papers on the four main seminar topics filled the air. 

Session I: Svalbard, geopolitics and security
Leads: Whitney Lackenbauer, Trent University, & Thomas Nilsen, Barents Observer
-    Andreas Østhagen, Fridtjof Nansen Institute & High North Center
-    Tobias Sæther, Norwegian Command and Staff College
-    Beate Steinveg, Nord University 
-    Cecilie Stensrud, Fridtjof Nansen Institute & Norwegian Parliament

Session II: Svalbard and Russia
Leads: Pål W. Skedsmo & Anne-Kristin Jørgensen, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
- Alina Bykova, Stanford University & The Arctic Institute
- Ingvill Elgsaas, Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies
- Turid Austin Wæhler, UiT: Arctic University of Norway
- Olivia Wynne Houck, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Session III: Svalbard, EUrope, NATO and governance
Leads: Arne O. Holm, High North News & Arild Moe, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
-    Agne Cepinskyte, S&P Global
-    Pauline Baudu, Wilson Center & IRIS
-    Andreas Raspotnik, Fridtjof Nansen Institute & High North Center
-    Romain Chuffart, Durham University & The Arctic Institute
-    Ingrid Medby, Newcastle University

Session IV: Svalbard, societal and economic issues
Leads: Grete Hovelsrud, Nordland Research Institute / Nord University, & Svein Vigeland Rottem, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
-    Justin Barnes, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Canada
-    Tiril Vold Hansen, Nord University
-    Julia Olsen, Nord University & Nordland Research Institute
-    Igor Kodacheck, Nord University

In addition, FNI also organized a pubinar – an informal gathering at Karlsberger Pub in Longyearbyen. Professor Whitney Lackenbauer, one of Canada's foremost experts on Arctic history and contemporary Northern policy; FNI senior research fellow Arild Moe, an expert on Russian petroleum resources in the Arctic; journalist and former Svalbard resident Arne O. Holm; and Grete Hovelsrud, Professor of Environmental Sociology at Nord University entertained and engaged a responsive audience of 50. The pub was so packed more than ten people sat on the floor. 

The informal Pubinar on Svalbard Geopolitics filled Karlsberger Pub in Longyearbyen

The final morning was devoted to a workshop on greater coordination and cooperation in research activities connected to Svalbard, with representatives from the Research Council of Norway present.

On Svalbard, you are constantly asked to take your shoes of. Dr. Andreas Raspotnik presenting in his socks.

In addition, FNI senior researcher Svein Vigeland Rottem organized an open public meeting on local business development on Svalbard. The event attracted a diverse audience of a hundred people, many of them local Svalbard residents. Read more here (in Norwegian).

PhD researcher Turid Wæler of UiT attended the local community meeting in Svalbard.