In its integrated European Union policy for the Arctic the European Commission emphasized that the EU’s actions in the Arctic should contribute to implementing the Agenda 2030 and be in line with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs should thus be regarded as one important aspect guiding future polar research projects.

This session will demonstrate how the SDGs became integral part of five transdisciplinary polar white papers. During an international workshop, organised by the Horizon2020 funded Coordination and Support Action EU-PolarNet, the SDGs emerged as one signpost for identifying key areas for future societal relevant polar research. The workshop brought together 50 renowned polar experts, ranging from senior and early career researchers, representatives from indigenous peoples, industry, policy and NGOs. Jointly they identified areas of high societal relevance, where future research can contribute to economic, social and environmental benefits for a wide range of stakeholders. Within these priority areas, the SDGs appeared as a reoccurring element transcending the resulting five white papers. However, it also became apparent that the SDGs are not well adapted for the Polar Regions and there is an urgent need to develop a suite of polar indicators. Besides displaying how future transdisciplinary polar research projects can address the SDGs, this session therefore also aims at fostering an active discussion on how the goals can be adjusted for a polar context.


  • Peter Sköld, Professor at Arctic Research Centre at Umeå University (Chair)
  • Eeva Furman, Director of the Environment Policy Centre, Finnish Environment Institute and Chair of Finland's Sustainable Development Expert Panel (tbc)
  • Gunn-Britt Retter, Head of the Arctic and Environment Unit, Saami Council
  • Malgorzata Smieszek, PhD candidate, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lapland Fellow, International Arctic Science Committee (IASC)
  • Chris Southcott, Professor at Lakehead University, Canada