Arctic Frontiers 2022 is postponed amid a fresh COVID-19 surge

Organizers are hoping to postpone an in-person event, rather than cancel it.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - December 21, 2021
The Arctic Frontiers, usually held in person in Tromsø, Norway, is postponed this year because of COVID-19. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

Arctic Frontiers, one of the largest annual Arctic conferences, held each year in Tromsø, Norway, has been postponed, as coronavirus infections surge there and around the world.

The coming conference was supposed to take place from Jan. 31 to Feb 3, 2022. But Norway and Tromsø are currently facing the highest numbers of infections since the start of the pandemic two years ago.

More than 4,000 new cases were added to the statistics in Norway on Tuesday, and the Nordic country is currently in a partial lockdown with restrictions on how many people can meet at different gatherings, including conferences, seminars and meetings where social distancing is difficult.

Also, bars and restaurants are not allowed to serve alcohol and home office is mandated for everyone who can work from home. The restrictions are in force until mid-January but could be prolonged depending on the COVID-19 situation after Christmas and New Years’ celebrations.

The organizers have been mapping several alternative solutions but told the Barents Observer they were not considering an online version of Arctic Frontiers.

“We recognize the need to meet within the pan-Arctic community, and after two years of a pandemic we prefer to use our resources on organizing a physical meeting place,” Executive Director Anu Fredrikson says.

“On these grounds, we prioritize to plan for a physical meeting and have opted to postpone rather than cancel.”

Arctic Frontiers is one of four large Arctic international conferences in Europe. Earlier this autumn, both the Reykjavik-based Arctic Circle and the Rovaniemi-based Arctic Spirit were arranged with physical attendances. Russia’s Arctic Dialogue conference is still scheduled for April 11-13, 2022 in St. Petersburg.

In Tromsø, Anu Fredrikson is also looking towards spring 2022 for the Arctic Frontiers gathering.

“We are currently mapping the “Arctic calendar,” and will as soon as possible announce the new dates. We are looking at options during the spring or early summer,” she says.