The first CHARTER General Assembly was arranged as a hybrid in person and online meeting in the
Helsinki and in Zoom, 5 th -7 th October 2021. Developments in the COVID-19 situation were followed closely prior to the meeting and those attending in-person were advised to follow the current travelling and gathering guidelines.
With an almost entirely virtual launch of the project last year, and a rather truncated field work season, we were thrilled that we were be able to meet many of the project participants in person. Connecting virtually has never been
easier and has opened up new possibilities for co-work across boundaries and borders, but trans-disciplinary work is especially challenging and requires extended in person conversations. Not only do people need to get to know each other, they need to understand the frameworks in which other disciplines operate and the languages and terminologies that can be used collectively: this is challenging, without the constraints of a pandemic. The Assembly went some way to bridging the gaps that the lack of in person meetings over the last year have
We had 46 participants in Helsinki in-person, and additional 14-18 participants online. Participants included CHARTER researchers and communication specialists but also collaborators and colleagues from neighboring projects. Several Russian colleagues followed the meeting on-line. Meeting sessions were chaired by the
CHARTER coordination team and WP-leaders.
The Assembly had a lot of practical issues to get through, but underlying it all was an attempt to chip away at the large CHARTER questions:
What are the responses of Arctic terrestrial systems to changes in the
cryosphere (e.g. permafrost, snow and sea ice cover, and rain-on-snow
events), biodiversity and their feedbacks and interactions?
What are the effects of social-ecological changes for linked indigenous and
local communities and traditional livelihoods sharing the affected territories,
especially herding and hunting of large semi-domesticated and wild ungulate
What sort of strategies and policy pathways for locally and regionally critical
livelihoods (herding, hunting and fishing) reflect, and enhance adaptation to
the changing Arctic?
The first CHARTER publications are coming out (several due in the coming months) and in person meetings between Work Package leaders in the near future will build on the progress and questions raised at this meeting. We are all hoping for a full field work season next year and the question of how to safely arrange participatory workshops, in order that local and indigenous voices which are critical to one of the centralities of the project are heard, is still an ongoing question. That said, a good deal of field work did occur this year: in Finnish Lapland, in Finnmark, Norway and several groups of researchers on the Yamal Peninsula, and also in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia. Those that managed fieldwork shared images and stories from their season.
The next CHARTER General Assembly will be held in northern Germany, in about a years time.