Final Project Report

Does scientific and Indigenous knowledge adequately inform Arctic policies? The Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) convened Arctic Futures 2050, an international conference designed to explore the opportunities and challenges for deeper dialogue between scientists, Indigenous knowledge holders, and those making and influencing policy. The conference asked:

  • What challenges confront policy makers in the rapidly changing Arctic?
  • What basic research is needed to inform responses to Arctic change?
  • What applied research is needed to inform responses to change?
  • What tools can facilitate informing policy making with science and Indigenous knowledge?
  • What opportunities exist for partnerships between policy makers and scientists?

Four hundred Arctic scientists; Indigenous knowledge holders; policy makers; natural resource managers; and military, industrial, and other operators in the Arctic convened at the National Academies of Sciences in Washington, DC on 4 – 6 September 2019. Travel awards were provided to 29 early-career researchers—including 2 supported with IASC funding—from Russia, the United States, Canada, Finland, Argentina, England, and Sweden. An additional 21 travel awards supported participation by Indigenous participants from the Russia, the United States, and Canada. On-line streaming of the conference resulted in over 1,500 views, and Twitter shared conference content with more than 61,000 users. The conference agenda and video links to all presentations and panels are available at the SEARCH web site.

A draft conference report is under review by the participants and will be finalized in February 2020. SEARCH has also followed up on the conference through publication of Harnessing Specialized Knowledge to Respond to a Rapidly Changing Arctic and Voices from the Front Lines of a Changing Bering Sea; An Indigenous Perspective for the 2019 Arctic Report Card and with video products.


  • Sea ice, ice sheets, glaciers, and permafrost are diminishing in the warming Arctic with adverse impacts on the safety, food security, and traditional lifestyles of Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic.

  • Global consequences of Arctic environmental changes include amplifying atmospheric and oceanic warming, raising sea levels, and increasing extreme weather events.

  • Collaboration among scientists, Indigenous Peoples, and policy makers positively influences Arctic policies, but differences in the tempos and styles of communication are substantial and require additional efforts to overcome. Participants voiced strong, nearly unanimous support for continuing these discussions beyond the conference.


Date and Location

4 - 6 September 2019 | Washington, D.C. (USA)


IASC Working Group funding the project


Project Lead

Brendan P. Kelly


Year funded by IASC



Project Status





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