Guiding Principles

Our NNA-CO decision-making and philosophical approach are based on the following seven Guiding Principles. Our strong research foundation, the wisdom of Elders and other culture bearers, community partners, and the continued efforts and commitment of members of the Arctic community have influenced the development of these principles, which reflect evolving values and best practices. We will highlight and build awareness of these principles in our communications and activities.

  1. Communication for Community. Trusted and healthy relationships are built through effective communication, including processes for delivering information, listening, offering feedback, and working toward shared understanding. Worldview, history, and culture influence language and perspective. There is need for diverse communication approaches that celebrate and accommodate cultural differences, recognition of Indigenous languages, and protocols for resolving misunderstandings and offenses that may inadvertently occur.

  2. Convergence through Partnerships. An institutional foundation for convergence research relies on collaborative partnerships with dedicated time, resources, and leadership. Ideally, partnerships are oriented toward convergence throughout all phases of the research process—problem definition, design, data collection, knowledge sharing, analysis, synthesis, and dissemination. The co-production of knowledge, as a meaningful approach toward convergence, requires nothing less.

  3. Multiple Ways of Knowing & Learning. Building a community that recognizes the role and potential of each member requires acknowledging that multiple ways of knowing and learning exist. An environment of equitable knowledge sharing and learning also requires recognizing common goals and values. The unique nature of an individual’s expertise, whether based within a scientific discipline or an Indigenous Knowledge system, can create barriers that require active steps to overcome. An inclusive view for how we collectively practice science and apply knowledge, while highlighting the elements of what unites our interests and pursuits to understand and steward the Arctic region, is critical.

  4. Indigenous Self-Determination. The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which was ratified by all Arctic nation states, recognizes and upholds the right of Indigenous self-determination—the right of Indigenous Peoples to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” and to exercise “autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs.” Following the UNDRIP, we recognize Indigenous self-determination and will support and promote frameworks for ethical research, intellectual property rights, and Indigenous Knowledge and data sovereignty.

  5. Institutional Change. While many challenges in the Arctic require responses “today,” sustained responses to the complex social-ecological challenges of climate and environmental change require taking the “long view.” NNA-CO strategies and actions over the next five years have the potential to spur changes in how research, Indigenous, and boundary institutions—together with government and non-governmental partners—build their capacity and mandates for sustained and coordinated efforts to address a changing Arctic farther into the future. This requires awareness of and attention to belief systems, rules, norms, and social inequalities and exclusions that shape research priorities and existing behavior and practice, while identifying opportunities for transformative change through coalitions with common goals.

  6. Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Our NNA-CO will recognize diversity (including but not limited to cultural differences, race and ethnicity, language, sex, gender identity, socioeconomic status, etc.) as a requirement for success, and commit to identifying and eliminating barriers that have prevented historically and presently marginalized and underserved peoples and groups from fully accessing the opportunities and resources they need to succeed.

  7. Awareness for Safety. Arctic research, whether in remote locations, extreme environments, and/or using specialized equipment, often exposes researchers, support staff, and local partners to personal safety risks. Remote Arctic field sites require particular attention to harassment concerns, where victims may be left without safe and available means for recourse. There is also potential for local community partners to take unacceptable risks to their lives or well-being while assisting with local logistics or data collection. Overcoming these unique challenges requires coordination, resources, and awareness-building.

These Guiding Principles will be reevaluated with the NNA-CO advisory boards (once fully established) and updated as necessary, and every two years thereafter.