Inter-Polar Initiative: Connecting the Arctic with the Third Pole

The Arctic and the Third Pole both contain important elements of the cryosphere, the areas of the world that are defined by the near-permanent presence of water in a frozen state. However, these areas are facing significant decline as both regions are currently warming at several times the global average. The decline of the cryosphere will have complex and multiple effects that will differ widely across both regions. The melting of the Himalayan glaciers will for example have significant local and regional effects related to the provision and availability of water to a quarter of humanity, whereas the warming of the Arctic will also have a major global impact, for example through the large-scale release of methane from thawing permafrost, or the melt of the Greenland ice sheet, which could lead to several meters of sea level rise. Yet, there is little knowledge about the commonalities, links, and differences between both Polar regions, as both are generally considered separately. The Inter-Polar Initiative seeks to contribute to remedying this deficiency by fostering inter-polar research and collaboration. The initiative explores how to adequately protect the constituent regions of the cryosphere from the perspectives of international law, science diplomacy, geopolitics, and science and technology studies.


  • To organize an annual inter-polar conference linking the Arctic with the Third Pole
  • To create a robust network of scholars interested in connecting the Arctic with the Third Pole
  • To learn about the climate change driven effects on the two Poles
  • To understand the differences and commonalities between the two poles
  • To explore the potential to study the Arctic and the Third Pole through the frame of the global cryosphere
  • To refocus traditional frames and perspectives on the Arctic and the Third Pole in light of current climatic and geopolitical changes

Topics to be covered:

  • The Arctic and the Third Pole:
    • how they are intertwined as a consequence of climate change?
    • local, regional and global governance approaches in light of climate change
    • climate intervention, climate action and social technology
  • Implications of climate change on:
    • society and culture: demography, transnational relationship, Indigenous and local people, local livelihoods
    • Human rights and human security: water security, food security
    • environment and nature conservations, including biodiversity
    • economy and human activities, and national, regional, transnational actors as interest groups

Scholars associated

  • Kamrul Hossain, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
  • Albert van Wijngaarden, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
  • Marco Volpe, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland.