Arctic Social Indicators
ASI Implementation (ASI-II)
An IPY Legacy Project
Introduction and Background
document constitutes the project description and work plan for a follow-up
activity to two Arctic Council projects - the Arctic Human Development
Report (AHDR) and the Arctic Social Indicators (ASI) Project. It is a
proposal for the implementation phase of the set of Arctic social
indicators developed during the ASI International Polar Year project
(2006-2008 Arctic Cooperation Programme). To ensure a long-term and
Nordic-led IPY legacy, this proposed follow-up project on ASI
implementation aims to test, refine, and implement the social indicators
developed by ASI, with the overall aim to facilitate the on-going
monitoring of changes in human development in the Arctic, and to inform
The AHDR (2004)
described the unprecedented combination of rapid and stressful changes
confronting Arctic societies today including environmental processes,
cultural developments, economic changes, industrial developments and
political changes. The report called for the development of indicators
to track and monitor these changes, and to help facilitate the
evaluation and assessment of the impact of change, including helping
facilitate the setting of priorities by policy makers and the Arctic
The ASI project was formulated to fill a critical gap in
knowledge identified by the AHDR on the construction of social
indicators to help facilitate monitoring of changes in human
development. The AHDR identified domains of particular relevance to
Arctic residents important to incorporate in measuring human development
in the Arctic. Guided by the AHDR, the first phase of
ASI identified a set of
Arctic-specific indicators to monitor Arctic human development and
quality of life in the Arctic.
The next step, which
constitutes the proposed ASI-II Implementation project, aims to
implement the identified indicators, through
testing, validating and
refining the indicators across the Arctic, and then measuring and
performing analyses of select cases, with the ultimate goal of moving
toward to adoption by Arctic governments and the Arctic Council of the
indicators for the purpose of long-term monitoring of human development.
addresses the focus and priorities of the NCM Arctic Cooperation
Programme as follows:
The proposed ASI
Implementation project fits within the framework of the Arctic
Council and constitutes follow-up to the Arctic Council’s AHDR
project on the identified gap in knowledge on indicator construction
and monitoring of human development in the Arctic.
constitutes the implementation of arctic social indicators created
based on six identified prominent aspects of human development in
the arctic as identified in the AHDR and ASI, and thus, it reflects
living conditions on the Arctic populations’ own premises.
The purpose is to
implement the findings of the ASI IPY project, including testing,
measuring and making data sets available for long-term monitoring of
human development. Thus it includes further developing the results
achieved during IPY with the goal to improve living conditions in
the North and quality of life based on long-term monitoring. The
proposed follow-up on data and monitoring is central to a long-term
The focus on
indicators and monitoring contributes to our increased knowledge and
understanding of the consequences of global change for human living
conditions in the Arctic. It will include analyses of select cases
focused on the application of ASI indicators for tracking and
monitoring change and its impacts.
The project’s focus
on the ability to monitor and track changes in human development
provides a framework for the development and improvement of quality
of life of Arctic residents, with special attention to indigenous
peoples of the north.
constitutes follow-up and publicity of the work of the results of
Nordic research into development in the Arctic and indigenous
peoples’ living conditions. The project includes the continued
Nordic participation from several Nordic institutions.
The project will
include representation from SLiCA, ECONOR, ArcticStat, POENOR
and others. Furthermore, ASI indicators have been identified as a
building block within the SAON (Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks).
Hence, the follow-up will help facilitate capacity building and
create further momentum and synergies among Arctic Council projects
by incorporating work from other Arctic Council projects, including
projects supported by the Arctic Cooperation Programme.
From AHDR to ASI to ASI
Creating and refining suitable indicators of human development in the
Arctic involves a step-wise process in which initial proposals are
vetted empirically and refined or replaced over time as our ability to
capture the essential features of human development under the specific
conditions arising in the Arctic improves. Viewed in this light, the
work of the ASI constitutes a significant step forward in moving us
toward an ability to track trends in key elements of human development
in the Arctic and, as a result, guiding discussions regarding questions
of policy in the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) and in the
Arctic Council more generally. ASI Implementation is the next, critical
phase to ensure the implementation of the results of ASI and its set of
Arctic social indicators.
The goal of the ASI
project has been to act on the findings of the AHDR with the objective
to identify, and then weigh the relative merits of a range of proposed
indicators of human development in the Arctic, and to select a tractable
number of indicators that seem most likely to prove successful in this
The development of a means of monitoring trends in human
development in the Arctic will be extremely helpful from the perspective
of those involved in the policy process. Those wishing to track
developments relating to the status of Arctic cultures, the evolution of
indigenous rights, or the growth of the region’s economy, for example,
can take the baseline picture presented in the AHDR as a point of
departure and compare the changes over time in human development or
social welfare in the Arctic. The AHDR does not, however, provide time
series data regarding the various elements of human development in the
Arctic, nor does it present a suite of quantifiable indicators suitable
for use on the part of those seeking to monitor or track changes in
human development in the Arctic. It does specify domains of specific
relevance to the Arctic that are not measured in common Human
Development indicators. Thus, ASI was implemented with the objective to
devise a limited set of Arctic-specific indicators that reflect key
aspects of human development in the Arctic, that are tractable in terms
of measurement, and that can be monitored over time at a reasonable cost
in terms of labour and material resources.
During its first phase,
ASI completed the initial stage of a long-term effort to measure and
monitor human development on an integrated basis in the circumpolar
Arctic. With an official launch of the final report at the upcoming
April 2009 Ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council – the next step is
to move to ASI-II: Implementation. The next logical step is to test,
validate and refine the indicators across the Arctic, with the aim to
work towards a system of long-term monitoring that promises to leave a
long-term IPY legacy. The ultimate goal is for Arctic governments to
adopt the indicators for the monitoring of human development. One of a
number of key recommendations of the ASI report is to implement ASI
Phase Two. Specifically, recommendation # 1 of the ASI report states:
Initiate ASI Phase Two with the objective of
monitoring the six identified domains of human development in the Arctic
The draft ASI findings
including this and other ASI recommendations were presented at the
October 2008 SDWG meeting in Tromsø and received wide support from the
SDWG working group. The January 2009 final report of the SDWG to the
SAOs recommends the ASI report to the SAOs. It also notes that the
Arctic Social Indicators (ASI) project anticipates doing follow-up
Project Goals and Objectives
The main goal of ASI Implementation (ASI-II) is to
implement the ASI indicators, with the objectives being to identify data
gaps and challenges, measure and test ASI indicators, conduct analyses
of the ability of the selected set of indicators to track changes in
human development and quality of life in the Arctic, and to formulate
recommendations for long-term monitoring.
Specifically, the objectives are:
systematically identify and describe data challenges, including data
availability and data quality by region for each of the final set of
recommended ASI indicators as well as select other and promising
arctic social indicators considered in ASI.
categorize indicators according to a tier system based on data
availability and ease of measurement.
measure ASI indicators by region and at different scales.
and validate ASI indicators by region.
refine the ASI indicators where needed based on further research,
testing, and feedback from northern communities and other arctic
To conduct a series
of regional comparisons and analyses based on measured ASI
indicators to illustrate and further test their strength and
recommendations for a long-term monitoring system.
To present the final
results in a format that targets a broad audience and which at the
same time makes the report useful in educational instruction in the
UArctic and other northern colleges and universities.
ASI is the essential
framework for ASI-II.
ASI indicators have been developed within six domains:
control and or the ability to guide one’s own destiny;
(2) Cultural Wellbeing and Cultural Integrity or belonging to a viable
(3) Contact with nature or interacting closely with the natural world;
(4) Material Well-being;
(6) Health and Population.
The chapter layout of
the ASI report, to be delivered April 2009, is as follows:
Arctic Social Indicators
Chapter 1: Introduction: Arctic Social Indicators and Human Development
in the Arctic
Chapter 2: Human Health and Population
Chapter 3: Material Well-being
Chapter 4: Education
Chapter 5: Cultural Well-being and Cultural Vitality
Chapter 6: Closeness to Nature
Chapter 7: Fate Control
Chapter 8: Arctic Social Indicators: Major Findings and Recommendations
These chapters – each
about 20-25 pages in length and each representing a domain that
describes a prominent feature of human development in the Arctic –
present a series of promising indicators and make recommendation about a
final choice of best indicator for each domain on Arctic human
development based on a set of selection criteria.
Data Challenges: From
ASI to ASI Phase Two:
outset of ASI, the stated intent was to identify a small set of
indicators of human development relevant to the Arctic that could be
monitored at a reasonable cost. The ASI team hoped that “reasonable cost”
could be operationally defined in terms of indicators that are based on
existing information. The team also agreed that a good indicator should:
have clear meaning relevant to one or
more of the six domains of Arctic human development (health and
demography, material well-being, education, cultural integrity,
contact with nature, and fate control)
be sensitive to change over time
be available at least down to a regional
be applicable to, and reported
separately for, indigenous and non-indigenous populations
The selection criteria
adopted for the ASI project include: Data availability, data
affordability, ease of measurement, robustness, scalability,
Participants at the
first ASI workshop were able to achieve consensus on using the six
domains of Arctic human development contained in the Arctic Human
Development Report recommendations as the basis for organizing the work
of ASI. At two subsequent workshops it became clear that within each of
these domains, meeting the combined challenges posed by the criteria
defining a “good indicator” require either sacrifice of one or more of
the criteria, or a relaxation of the assumption that indicators can be
based on existing information.
The individual ASI
domain chapters detail the specific data challenges posed by indicators
for that domain. For instance, net migration, for example, while
ostensibly based on the most basic data (population, births, and deaths)
is not uniformly available for all countries nor for indigenous and non-indigenous
populations in some countries. Time series data on harvest and
consumption of local resources, another recommended Arctic Social
Indicator, are not available on a decadal time scale in North America,
Russia, Norway, Sweden, or Finland.
Thus, recommending a set
of Arctic Social Indicators is only a first step. Testing and refining
the recommended indicators as the next necessary phase. Recommendations
on the steps necessary to measure and monitor them are also required.
Ideally, an indicator should be the most accurate statistic for
measuring both the level and extent of change in the social outcome of
interest. It should adequately reflect what it is intended to measure,
and ideally there should be wide support for the indicators chosen so
they will not be changed regularly. It is critical that the chosen
indicators are consistent over time and across places, as the usefulness
of indicators is related directly to the ability to track trends over
time and compare the wellbeing of regions.
Data needs to be
collected and reported regularly and frequently to ensure they provide
timely information. Differences in data protocol in the Arctic
complicate the task of making comparisons across the region. There are a
number of possible trade-offs that need to be considered in selecting
the best indicator among a set of possible indicators. The best measures
may not be collected frequently to allow yearly comparisons. Our desire
for longer time series rather than single measurements may be
compromised if the measure changes substantially from one year to the
next. As in the case of other indicators of human development in the
Arctic we face important trade-offs in devising Arctic social indicators.
Compromises will need to be made to achieve good indicators that are
obtainable at a reasonable cost in terms of time and resources. This may
come at the cost of constructing an ideal yet probably unattainable
indicator. However, much can be done to reduce this compromise, and to
arrive at a powerful and appropriate set of measured indicators. The
proposed ASI -II is a critical step forward in this direction; the
project seeks to move ASI forward as a lasting IPY legacy, and to
provide the measurements that are necessary to make ASI a significant
SAON building block.
The ASI project has
formulated six recommendations for ASI and AHDR follow-up activities to
ensure a lasting IPY legacy for data and monitoring. As reported earlier,
recommendation # 1 of the ASI report states:
Initiate ASI Phase Two with the objective of monitoring the six
identified domains of human development in the Arctic
recommendations that do not deal directly with the focus of the proposed
phase two – but which collectively address a vision for the future in
terms of national support for a monitoring system include:
ASI Recommendation 2:
Design the Arctic Social Indicator monitoring
system to meet the following objectives:
Data are available
at a regional level;
Data are available
separately for indigenous and non-indigenous populations;
Data are available
on at least a five-year reporting period.
ASI Recommendation 2:
Encourage national statistical agencies to participate in development of
a meta-database identifying ASI indicators that are already monitored by
a national agency and published in hard copy or electronic form.
ASI Recommendation 3:
Encourage establishment of an international
task force composed of national statistical agency analysts and Arctic
researchers to identify the special tabulations required to produce
comparable ASI indicators and to recommend approaches to produce these
ASI Recommendation 4:
Encourage the collaboration of ASI with
researchers who are funded through national research councils to collect
A tier system:
the early tasks of the proposed follow-up to ASI will be to undertake a
systematic identification and analysis of data challenges with ASI
indicators being categorized into tiers that describe the level of data
availability and ease of measurement of identified indicators.
In this context, for
each indicator limitations will be considered with respect to data
limitations: National limitations, Publication limitations, Spatial
limitations, Period limitations, Indigenous population limitations,
Special tabulation limitations, Compilation limitations, New data
As regards the tiers,
ideally, a chosen indicator fits one of the following combinations of
Data are collected
by a national agency, are comparable, are published, are available
at a county level, are collected at least every five years, and are
available for indigenous populations.
Data can be made
available with special tabulations and otherwise meet all criteria
listed in #1.
Data can be compiled
from existing information and otherwise meet all criteria listed in
New data could be
collected that otherwise meet all criteria listed in #1.
Based on this,
indicators will be divided into tiers:
Tier 1: based on existing published data
Tier 2: data that would be produced by special tabulations from existing
Tier 3: would require primary data collection
Following this, ASI-II
will move to measurement, testing, validation, and analysis. This phase
will include peer reviews and consultation with northern communities and
Links to other Projects
inclusion of representation from a broad range of projects helps builds
project synergies and furthers the benefits from the existing momentum
in indicator and arctic living conditions research. ASI-II will include
members from the AHDR team, SLiCA, ECONOR, POENOR, ArcticStat,
statistical agencies, SAON (Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks), and
between ASI and SAON:
The SAON draft
recommendations are highly relevant to the ASI findings. ASI has been
identified as a building block within SAON. The ASI working group
supports strongly that the measuring and monitoring of the suite of
Arctic social Indicators recommended in the ASI report should be a major
effort of observing activities and networks (incl. SAON) in the Arctic.
Work Plan and Time Schedule
working group will consist of members from the ASI working group and
researchers who were part of the AHDR team as well as new members with
expertise in the field. The working group will have broad
representation from the scientific community, indigenous peoples,
communities of the north, other Arctic stakeholders, and other Arctic
Council indicator and living conditions projects (e.g. SLiCA, ArcticStat,
ECONOR, and POENOR).
Project manager/project leader: Dr. Joan Nymand Larsen, Senior Scientist,
Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri, Iceland.
The ASI secretariat
located at the Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri, Iceland, will
continue as secretariat for the ASI-Implementation project (ASI-II), and
will take on the coordination and support function. The Stefansson
Arctic Institute also hosted and operated the ASI and AHDR secretariats.
Locating the indicator secretariat here ensures efficiency in terms of
accessibility to AHDR and ASI data, contacts, information, and the wide
network of people who were involved in the production of the AHDR, and
therefore will build on the existing momentum and help create synergies.
Joan Nymand Larsen, who was the project manager of the AHDR and headed
the AHDR secretariat, and has been project leader of ASI and manager of
the ASI secretariat, will also head the secretariat of the proposed ASI
follow-up project and will take on the role of coordinating working
group activities, budget planning, as well as other ongoing management
tasks in relation to the project.
The project will also
have an executive committee, which will include a representative from
the Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat (IPS).
Each of the six
indicator-domain groups are led by 2-3 team leaders, one of whom is the
groups central coordinator.
duration of this project is estimated at 3 years (January 2009 –
Early 2009: ASI-II
secretariat to be based at the Stefansson Arctic Institute in
May 2009: ASI-II
working group to be established.
Spring 2009: Project
proposal, the concept and idea of ASI implementation, goals and
objectives, to be presented to the SDWG of the Arctic Council.
First ASI-II workshop to be held. Formulation of detailed work plan
and discussion of preliminary work on data challenges and
January 2010: Draft
work to be circulated for comments.
Summer 2010: Second
workshop to be held on testing and analysis.
Fall 2010: Testing,
validation, and refinement of indicators.
Consultations in/with Arctic communities.
Winter 2010: First
round of peer review of working group results.
Spring 2011: Third
Participants of the working group will meet at the Seventh
International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS IIV) in
Akureyri, Iceland, in summer 2011. The goal is to have the
preliminary results completed in time for presentation and
discussion in a session at the summer 2011 ICASS conference.
August 2011: Second
round of peer review of draft report.
2011: Editing, Layout, Publication
Publication in Nordic Council of Ministers’ publication series.
report on ASI implementation, featuring a discussion of data quality and
challenges, results of testing and validation, refinement and
measurement of ASI indicators, and a series of analyses to illustrate
applications, will be presented by December 2011.
has made significant progress toward the development of an Arctic social
indicator system, having identified a set of indicators to facilitate
the monitoring of Arctic human development and quality of life in the
Arctic. The next logical step in monitoring of human development is to
test, validate and refine the indicators across the Arctic, with the
goal of having Arctic governments adopt the indicators for the
monitoring of human development.
The development of the
AHDR was a timely initiative. The scope and significance of the report
have been recognized and widely praised both among those concerned with
Arctic affairs and among those who deal with human development in the
world at large. This proposed follow-up to the AHDR and ASI is an
equally important initiative. It is a task that is long overdue, and
which promises to fill a critical gap in knowledge with the
establishment of a tool for tracking and monitoring change in human
development in the Arctic over time. The creation of indicators can
benefit a wide range of stakeholders, including those involved in Arctic
policy making processes, residents of the North, Northern Universities
including UArctic, as well as those engaged in the Arctic social
The focus of this follow-up
is on data, measurement, and monitoring. It constitutes a follow-up to
an IPY and Arctic Council endorsed project. It builds on an existing
research momentum and creation of project synergies, and promises to
leave a long-term IPY legacy on data and monitoring.
List of Project Participants/Working Group Members:
Joan Nymand Larsen, Stefansson Arctic Institute,
Iceland – Icelandic project leader/manager
Jon Haukur Ingimundarson, Stefansson Arctic Institute,
Niels Einarsson, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland
Gorm Winther (POENOR), University of Aalborg, Denmark
Anna Sirina, Department of Northern Studies, Institute of Ethnology
and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow,
Tatania Vlasova, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Carl Christian Olsen,
Greenland Language Council and ICC, Nuuk, Greenland
Birger Poppel (SliCA, University of Greenland, Nuuk,
Gunhild Hoogensen, Dept. of Political Science,
University of Tromsø, Norway
Ove Magve Varsi, GÁLDU, Resource Centre for the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Kautokeino, Norway
Jan Henry Keskitalo, Sami College, Kautokeino, Norway
Aslaksen, Statistics Norway (ECONOR), Norway (Not confirmed)
Sirina, Institute of Ethnology, Russ.Acad.Sci., Russia
Bruce Forbes, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland,
Dahl, former Chair of International Working Group on Indigenous
Affairs, IWGIA, Denmark
Peter Bjerregaard, National Institute of Public
Health, Department of Research for Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Rasmus Ole Rasmussen, North Atlantic Regional
Studies, Department of Geography and International Development
Studies, Roskilde University, Denmark
Csonka, Department of Social and Cultural History, Ilisimatusarfik,
University of Greenland, Nuuk, Greenland
Torunn Pettersen, Dept. of Social Sciences, Nordic
Saami Institute, Norway – representative of Saami Statistics
Peter Schweitzer, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA
Gail Fondahl, Geography and Outdoor Recreation/Tourism
Management Programs University of Northern British Columbia, Prince
George, B.C., Canada
Jack Kruse, Institute of Social and Economic
Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA
Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Canada.
of New Hampshire, Dept. of Sociology, USA
Ray Barnhardt, Alaska Native Knowledge Network,
University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA.
Stephanie Irlbacher Fox,
Fox Consulting, Yellowknife, NT, Canada
Crate, Dept. of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason
Young, Bren Program on Governance for Sustainable Development, Bren
School of Environmental Science and Management, University of
California, Santa Barbara, USA
Lawrence D. Kaplan,
Alaska Native Language
University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA
Department of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA.