Arctic Frontiers conference goes digital only

The major Arctic conference will not convene in Tromsø in 2021.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - September 7, 2020
The January 2020 version of Arctic Frontiers. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

A second major international Arctic conference has canceled its next main in-person event.

Arctic Frontiers, Norway’s high-profile conference on Arctic issues held early each year in Tromsø, has moved a the 2021 conference completely to a digital platform.

“We have decided to move the content of Arctic Frontiers 2021 online to ensure that no one will lose out on the Arctic Frontiers experience,” the organizers said.

[How coronavirus cancellations could change the way Arctic dialogue is conducted]

The move comes on the heels of the announcement last month that the other major international Arctic conference, Arctic Circle Assembly, in Reykjavik, Iceland, would cancel its gathering for October 2020.

Arctic Frontiers had polled attendees about the possibility of holding some of the conference online earlier in the year, and last month Administrative Director Line Kjelstrup acknowledged to ArcticToday that “it will be difficult to conduct our conference as originally planned.”

Unlike Arctic Circle Assembly, Arctic Frontiers still plans to host an online version of the conference during the same period when the in-person event was to have taken place.

“The Arctic family will meet from February 1-4, 2021 in a slightly different way than what we are use to,” Arctic Frontiers writes on its portal.

The term “slightly different” is likely the understatement of the year, as the key success factor for Arctic Frontiers has been attracting international participants to travel and stay in the winter landscape of the polar night framing the conference in Tromsø. Smaller talks and especially the informal conversations that establish new Arctic connections will be difficult or impossible to replicate online.

A list of speakers for the (online) plenary program is not yet published.