Published April 25, 2024 | Version v1
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CAPARDUS – Capacity-building in Arctic standardization development Final report on the Svalbard case study 2020-2023

  • 1. Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center


This report describes the work performed in the Svalbard case study as part of the H2020 CAPARDUS project from 2020 to 2023. During the pandemic physical meetings and workshops could not be organised in Svalbard because of travel restrictions. The activities in this period were limited to online meetings with representatives from the local community in Svalbard, literature search and uploading of documents to the Arctic Practice repository under the Ocean Best Practice System. The first physical meeting took place during the Svalbard Science Conference in Oslo in November 2021. Here a side-meeting was organised with 30 participants from projects working in Svalbard. The side-meeting was a collaboration with the Svalbard Social Science Initiative and the objective was to build connections between Svalbard-related social science research and the local community in Longyearbyen in the context of climate change and its impact.

The first physical workshop in Longyearbyen was organised 6 – 9 August 2022 in collaboration with the Cultcoast project led by NIKU. The workshop title was "Community-based monitoring and Citizen science (CBM-CS) in the Svalbard area". The workshop included one day with focus on cultural heritage research activities and one day with an excursion to Hiorthamn to visit cultural heritage sites. During the workshop the status of CBM-CS systems in Svalbard and other Arctic areas was reviewed. The possibilities to develop CBM-CS systems to support cultural heritage research and tourist activities were discussed. Guidelines, practices, standards and regulations which are relevant for CBM-CS activities were reviewed. The workshop had a 1-day session discussing the concept and requirements for an Arctic Practice System (APS). An APS system is envisioned to be a sustained repository for practices related to environmental observations, resource exploitation and other activities in the Arctic. ´Practice´ means a documentation in digital form of how things are done for example in observation of a specific ocean phenomenon. What an APS should do will be identified in dialogue with people living or working in the Arctic with knowledge about practices in their daily work. The idea is to build on the existing Ocean Best Practice System, which is operated under IOC-UNESCO, but expand it to include a wider range of disciplines and topics that are important in the Arctic.

The second workshop was organised in Longyearbyen on 7-8 February 2023 where representatives from the local community in Longyearbyen met with cultural heritage scientists and tourist operators to discuss how practices, guidelines and standards are developing in Svalbard. The tourist sector through Visit Svalbard and Svalbard Museum develop their own information systems, which are addressing different aspects of tourist activities. The actors involved in cultural heritage researchers and management work under governmental regulations, implying that activities follow existing standards and guidelines. Cultural heritage has its own information systems (“Akseladden” and “Kulturminnesøk”) which are operated by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage (“Riksantikvaren”). An Arctic Practice System needs to be connected to these information systems which are partly top-down and partly bottom-up driven. The tourist operators have their official travel portal for Svalbard, operated by Visit Svalbard which is targeted towards the tourists.

The third workshop 8- 9 June 2023 was a direct follow-up of the February workshop, where another group of actors attended. They represented projects and organisations involved in Arctic safety, both in terrestrial and marine operations. Several aspects of shipping were presented and discussed from the Arctic Safety Centre and the multidisciplinary course on Arctic shipping at UNIS. Furthermore, presentations were given about the Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre – North Norway, the EU ARCSAR project, the Red Cross, Telenor, Visit Svalbard and the pilot services by the Coastal Adminstration.

The most important legal and regulatory documents are the Svalbard Treaty, the Svalbard Law and the Svalbard Environmental Act. These are dealing with nature conservation areas, cultural heritage management, pollution and waste, hunting, trapping and fishing, and land-use management. The recent recommendations by the Norwegian Environment Agency for stricter regulations of human traffic on Svalbard will have ramifications for the tourism industry, including new limits on marine-based activities and access to sites, increased safety and insurance regulations, and likely more requirements for certified guides. The overall purpose of regulatory strengthening is to limit and reduce impacts to the natural environment and the cultural heritage.

Standardization is often driven by regulations, legal framework, treaties, etc. An example is the Polar Code implemented by IMO after development by the member countries over many years. The regulations in the Polar Code are expected to spin-off standard development related to safety and responsibility of shipping in the Arctic (and Antarctic). The regulations in Svalbard are much more specific and play a key role in developing standards in the region. Development of standards, guidelines and practices in Svalbard and other Arctic areas is often a bottom-up process, building the experience on how to do things, which develop into practices by gaining support from a wider community. Standardization in the Arctic is complex because there are many knowledge systems, research disciplines, operational activities, cultural activities and new technologies that change peoples’ lives and work.

This report is a synthesis of the results reported in the deliverables D3.1, D3.2 and D7.1 submitted to EU in 2022 and 2023.



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CAPARDUS – Capacity-building in Arctic standardisation development 869673
European Commission
CAPARDUS Extension in Norway 333112
The Research Council of Norway