The Initiative will be cross-disciplinary, with focus on research areas where joint Nordic research adds value to national initiatives. It will facilitate international research cooperation at the highest level, with Arctic as well as non-Arctic countries. Furthermore, the initiative will support joint use of research infrastructure, and strengthen the knowledge base for political decision making, education, industrial and human development.

The main thematic areas selected are as follows:
• Drivers of Change in the Arctic – Interactions and Impacts; Interactions between drivers emerging from both nature and society will be analysed, combining economic and climate modelling to build scenarios for future Arctic development.
• Arctic Resource Development in a Global Context; Opportunities and risks in the perspective of local – global relations will be investigated, in light of key sectors in the Arctic economy.
• Waters, Ecologies and Life Environments; The focus will be on the development of Arctic ecosystems, as well as on food and water security, preconditions for development of business, human health and wellbeing, and patterns of trade, migration, gender and ethnic relations.

The initiative has been prepared by a group of high-level representatives of the Nordic national research councils (NORIA-net Arctic). To provide input on multidisciplinary Arctic knowledge needs, three expert groups have been operative (on health, social sciences and the humanities, and natural sciences and technology). The expectations of the programme are to highlight the high-level multidisciplinary research in the Nordic and collaboration in the international level.
Research Professor Timo Koivurova from the Arctic Centre of University of Lapland was a member of the social sciences and humanities expert group and comments the process as follows:
‘’It was very interesting to meet with the other expert group members and find which research areas seem most suitable for high-level Nordic Arctic research. This was a truly multi-disciplinary dialogue, which, I am sure, benefitted all the researchers involved. My expectations are linked with the way the research programme was prepared. Those projects that receive funding should truly be able to research issues from the perspective of various sciences.’’
Research Professor Arja Rautio from the Thule Institute of University of Oulu was a member of the Health Sciences Expert group and she comments the process as follows:
"The upcoming Nordic Initiative is significant with respect to having the human perspective as research focus. Current and previous programmes of the sort have been missing this focus and I hope this will also endorse National Research Programmes to show more importance to the human perspective. In addition, this upcoming programme allows the Nordic countries to represent their top tier research capacity and know how on Arctic issues with and partner with the world’s best in research cooperation. I feel that the new initiative demonstrates the importance of arctic research in health and wellbeing and allows a more substantial contribution to Sami peoples health research.’’

The NordForsk Board has allocated NOK 30 million (around 3,8 mill EUR) for the joint Nordic Initiative on Arctic Research, and it is expected that the national research financiers in the Nordic countries will allocate NOK 60 million in total for the initiative for the period 2014-2018.