To view the preliminary program, click here.

Ten years of local and regional development in the northern periphery
The theme for this year’s international Gargia conference is ecology and sustainable business and community development in the Circumpolar North, with special focus on indigenous regions. The conference was initiated in 2003 as a meeting place for academics and development agents from public and private sector in Finnmark, northern Norway, involved in a joint project for local and regional development workshops and partnerships, including business schools. The new research and development project at Finnmark University College was meant as a helping hand to small, remote, rural municipalities in the northern periphery struggling to survive and cope with challenges caused by globalization, such as growing unemployment and out-migration. The Gargia Conference 2013 will therefore also be used to celebrate 10 years of successful social and economic development work in the northern periphery led by the UArctic Thematic Network on Local and Regional Development.

“We have taken up many important issues, and have created new networks and projects. We have learned from each other and inspired each other. Each conference has had a consistent theme. This year we will address ecology and sustainable business and community development in the Arctic. And this year, we will start locally and end globally,” says organizer Tor Gjertsen, associate professor at UiT/The Arctic University of Norway and leader of the UArctic network organizing the Gargia Conference. “We are delighted to have so many good speakers. It will be very exciting to hear the director of the Eyge Environmental Education Centre, Ekaterina Evseyeva, talk about her work on behalf of reindeer herders in Yaktuia, who have been affected by oil pipelines leaks, water pollution from mines and the negative consequences of hydro power development.”

The thematic network has not only contributed to international cooperation in research, education and development work, mainly between UArctic member institutions in Canada, Finland, Island, Norway and Russia, it has also facilitated contact and cooperation between universities inside the national borders, especially in northern. Partners at these universities have taken over responsibility and continued the project for local and regional development workshops and partnerships in their home regions.
” In recent years, the network has given priority to projects of social and economic development, including business schools, in indigenous communities and regions of northern Russia, mainly in Komi and Yaktuia,” says Gjertsen.

Nils Aarsæther, professor at UiT/ The Arctic University of Norway, is also taking part in the network and conference, and will give a presentation about innovation, identity formation and networking as useful ‘coping strategies’ for northern peoples, native as well as non-native. Another speaker worth mentioning is Greg Halseth, director of the Community Development Institute at the University of Northern British Columbia, BC, Canada, who has studied community development in rural areas for a long time and has authored several books about the topic.

The central theme of the conference is how to achieve ecological sustainable business and community development in the Circumpolar North. Apart from Ekaterina Evseyeva, Valentina Semyashkina, deputy director of “Silver Taiga”, a nature conservation organization that includes all of northern Russia, will also speak at the conference. In Russia as well as in Western Europe the issue of nature and environment protection and ecological sustainable development is becoming more and more important. Our local experts, Gunnar Reinholdtsen and Svein Lund, from the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature will give the participants an updated and detailed report on the status of mother nature and the prospects for ecological sustainable business and community development in Finnmark.

Ends in Tana, but continues in Yakutia

The conference will be held this year in Tana, and not in Gargia in Alta, because Finnmark University College first began its work with local and regional development workshops and partnerships in Tana. In June 2004, 16 experts from the university were invited by the mayor of the municipality of Tana, to run a two days development workshop with focus on rural development and image building. Since then, members of the resource group that was organized at Finnmark University College after the Tana workshop, has been engaged in different social and economic development projects in northern Canada, Finland and Russia, apart from Norway. “You can say that the circle will be closed, because with the international Gargia-Tana Conference 2013 we will end the project and process with local and regional development workshops and partnerships where we first started ten years ago,” says organizer Gjertsen.

After the conference the leadership and administration of the UArctic thematic network on local and regional development will be handed over to the Department of Finance and Economics at NEFU, the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk. The conference on regional development in the north will also be moved from Gargia to Oktemsty, a municipality not far from Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia. Dr. Oksana Romanova, deputy director and head of the research department at the Institute of Finance and Economics at NEFU, will be the new network leader.

“The network will continue its important efforts in entrepreneurship and development-oriented projects in rural areas. The network has now been invited to hold a special session for social and economic development in indigenous areas in the circumpolar north at the International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences, which will be held at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, Canada, next year,” says Gjertsen, who will continue international cooperation in education and research through the UArctic network.

Here is an overview of previous conferences topics and dates.
2006: Regional development in the North
2007: Knowledge creation and the management of regional R & D projects
2008: Northern innovation and development
2009: Reconstructing rural communities in a globalized world
2010: Between tradition and modernity
2011: Sports, tourism and local development
2012: Youth, education and rural development

Contact person:
Tor Arne Gjertsen
+47 78 45 02 75