Sustainable Transitions through Arctic Redevelopment (STAR)


With the launch of the Decade on Ecological Restoration by the United Nations in 2021, momentum is growing towards visioning a sustainable future for aging industrial sites worldwide. In the Arctic, these aging sites, including mining operations, have experienced immense neglect in part due to the remoteness of the region. With climate warming leading to increased ice and permafrost melt and expanded access to the region, these sites are increasingly vulnerable to further deterioration but pose an opportunity to understand how these sites can be developed for the future. This project lays the groundwork for understanding these futures for diverse industrial sites across the Arctic, focusing on cooperation with local communities to understand and vision sustainable development goals for the Arctic.

This planning grant brings together a team of scholars with broad experience across the Arctic to develop a research agenda around sustainable redevelopment goals of postindustrial extractive sites. It includes five case study sites with varying physical and political geographies in the United States (Alaska), Canada (Northwest Territory), Finland (Lapland), Greenland (Southeast) and Sweden (Norrbotten). Post-industrial redevelopment themes will be investigated by conducting Participatory Spatial Analysis and Visioning Workshops and will include, a) new mineral extraction prospects in old tailings residues; b) tourism around mineral extraction co-existence; c) transformation of underground mines for novel energy storage infrastructure; d) diversifying regional economy and minimizing land use impacts; and e) ecological restoration for Indigenous livelihood generation. The study will contribute to understanding the multifaceted relationship between Arctic residents that live in post-mining communities and their natural and cultural landscapes. It will also contribute to expanding the definition of resilient infrastructure to include sustainable post-primary use and redevelopment. The project will strengthen partnerships among the three lead U.S. institutions and international partners, particularly the European Union.

Logistics Summary

The goal of this collaboration between Ali (2220555, University of Delaware), Sidortsov (2220556, Michigan Technological University) and Panikkar (2220557, University of Vermont & State Agricultural College) is to advance our understanding of how sustainable transitions in the Arctic communities and markets influence community building and development, democratic policy making, local sovereignty and environmental resilience. Through the project researchers will examine a transdisciplinary definition of the sustainable redevelopment in the context of revitalizing mineral extraction activities and infrastructures in the Arctic by conducting Participatory Spatial Analysis and Visioning Workshops to collect data in five case study sites with varying physical and political geographies: post-industrial sites in the United States (Alaska), Canada (Northwest Territory), Russia (Western Kola region), Greenland (Southeast) and Sweden (Gallivare). In each year of the project, a field team member will conduct one field visit to Ivittuut and Aappaluttoq, Greenland and a field visit to the Finnish Lapland and Gallivare, Sweden to conduct scoping research and stakeholder workshops as stipulated in the project. Each visit would be for approximately one week to 10 days. In addition in 2023 and 2024 a field team of three will travel in Alaska to the case study communities of Galena and Ambler, Alaska.

Project PI(s)
Funded Institutions
University of Delaware
Michigan Technological University
University of Vermont
Other Research Location(s)
Ivittuut, Greenland
Gallivare, Sweden
Red Dog Mine, Alaska
Gahcho Kue, Canada
Rovaniemi, Finland
Project Start Date
Oct 2022
Award Year