ASI-II Implementation

The Arctic Social Indicators Project (ASI)


Arctic Social Indicators II
(pdf files - July 2014)

► Acknowledgements
► Preface
► Table of Contents
► Chapter 1:  Introduction to Arctic Social Indicators: Tracking Change in Human Development in the Arctic  (graphics and illustrations)
► Chapter 2:  Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russian Federation  (graphics and illustrations)
► Chapter 3:  Northwest Territories, Canada  (graphics and illustrations)
► Chapter 4:  West-Nordic Region (graphics and illustrations)
► Chapter 5:  Inuit Regions of Alaska  (graphics and illustrations)
► Chapter 6:  Inuit Nunaat  – The Inuit World: Measuring living conditions & individual well-being  –  monitoring of human development using Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA) to augment ASI for the Inuit World  (graphics and illustrations)
► Chapter 7:  Conclusion: Measuring Change in Arctic Human Development  (graphics and illustrations)


Project Description: Arctic Social Indicators (ASI): Implementation

ASI Implementation (ASI-II)
An IPY Legacy Project

Introduction and Background
This 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 policy decision-making.

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 Council.

ASI-II: Implementation:
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. 

ASI Implementation 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.

The project 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 IPY legacy.

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.

The project 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 Implementation:
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 context. 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 activities.


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:

  • To 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.
  • To categorize indicators according to a tier system based on data availability and ease of measurement.
  • To measure ASI indicators by region and at different scales.
  • To test and validate ASI indicators by region.
  • To refine the ASI indicators where needed based on further research, testing, and feedback from northern communities and other arctic stakeholders.
  • To conduct a series of regional comparisons and analyses based on measured ASI indicators to illustrate and further test their strength and applicability.
  • To formulate 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:
(1) Fate control and or the ability to guide one’s own destiny;
(2) Cultural Wellbeing and Cultural Integrity or belonging to a viable local culture;
(3) Contact with nature or interacting closely with the natural world;
(4) Material Well-being;
(5) Education;
(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:
At the 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 level
  • be applicable to, and reported separately for, indigenous and non-indigenous population

The selection criteria adopted for the ASI project include: Data availability, data affordability, ease of measurement, robustness, scalability, inclusiveness.

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

Other ASI 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 special tabulations.

ASI Recommendation 4: Encourage the collaboration of ASI with researchers who are funded through national research councils to collect primary data

A tier system:
One of 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 collection limitations

As regards the tiers, ideally, a chosen indicator fits one of the following combinations of criteria:
1. 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.
2. Data can be made available with special tabulations and otherwise meet all criteria listed in #1.
3. Data can be compiled from existing information and otherwise meet all criteria listed in #1.
4. 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 unpublished data
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 indigenous representatives.

Links to other Projects
The 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 others. It

Relationship 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:
The 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).

Management procedures and secretariat:
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.

Time line:
The duration of this project is estimated at 3 years (January 2009 – December 2011).

  • Early 2009: ASI-II secretariat to be based at the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Akureyri, Iceland.
  • 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.
  • Summer/Fall 2009: First ASI-II workshop to be held. Formulation of detailed work plan and discussion of preliminary work on data challenges and measurement.
  • 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.
  • Fall 2010: Consultations in/with Arctic communities.
  • Winter 2010: First round of peer review of working group results.
  • Spring 2011: Third workshop/writers’ meeting.
  • Summer 2011: 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.
  • September-December 2011: Editing, Layout, Publication
  • December 2011: Publication in Nordic Council of Ministers’ publication series.

Project Outputs/Deliverable
A 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.

ASI 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 sciences.

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.

Preliminary List of Project Participants/Working Group Members:

Joan Nymand Larsen, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland – Icelandic project leader/manager
Jon Haukur Ingimundarson, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland
Niels Einarsson, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland
Gorm Winther (POENOR), University of Aalborg, Denmark
Anna Sirina Anna Sirina, Department of Northern Studies, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Tatania Vlasova, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Carl Christian Olsen, Greenland Language Council and ICC, Nuuk, Greenland
Birger Poppel (SliCA, University of Greenland, Nuuk, Greenland
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
Julie Aslaksen, Statistics Norway (ECONOR), Norway (Not confirmed)
Anna Sirina, Institute of Ethnology, Russ.Acad.Sci., Russia
Bruce Forbes, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
Jens 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
Yvon 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
Leslie King, Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Canada.
Lawrence Hamilton, University 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
Susan Crate, Dept. of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, USA
Oran 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 Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA
Lee Huskey, Department of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA.