General Overview

The Arctic Futures Initiative: a Holistic Integrated Assessment – Options for Plausible Arctic Futures

© Henri Vandelanotte | Dreamstime

© Henri Vandelanotte | Dreamstime

We are developing a new generation study, the Arctic Futures Initiative (AFI), a holistic – international, interdisciplinary, inclusive, integrated – assessment applying systems analysis.

We invite you to collaborate with the Arctic Futures Initiative by participating in developing and implementing AFI in partnership to balance economic prosperity, environmental protection and societal well-being in the Arctic. Your collaboration will facilitate engagement of diverse stakeholders to share perspectives that contribute to the options for informed decision-making about Arctic sustainability for the lasting benefit of all. 

Decision makers, of all types and at all scales, need to reconcile continued economic development within the Arctic while safeguarding environmental and socio-cultural values and livelihoods. Global-scale social, economic, and technological changes all contribute to transformations of the Arctic climate, environment, economic development, and societies.

Moreover, the changes in the marine and terrestrial environments of the Arctic are intertwined with global feedbacks, including Earth’s climate (e.g., reducing albedo and pulsing vast volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere) as well as international trade and economics (e.g., emerging shipping routes, fisheries and energy resources across the Arctic Ocean as well as significant agriculture, freshwater and mineral resources from the surrounding land areas).

The complexity of the dynamic global system poses significant societal, research, policy and governance challenges for the fragile Arctic systems. A holistic view of the Arctic and its development in relation to global developments is missing, as are the potential future pathways and comprehensive knowledge towards a sustainable Arctic. 

The AFI is launched by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in partnership with stakeholders from science, policy, business, and society. The AFI is an independent international and interdisciplinary program bringing together global and Arctic communities, and applying systems analyses that include integrated modeling, inclusive decision-support process and science diplomacy to contribute to informed decision-making, without advocacy. The outcome of AFI is a holistic study on the plausible futures of the Arctic. This study includes the generation of practical options for informed decision-making on sustainable development and increased resilience of the Arctic with global relevance across the 21st century and beyond.   

Print this page

Last edited: 03 June 2016


Katica De Pascale

Administrative Assistant: ESP

Exploratory and Special Projects


T +43(0) 2236 807 620


Anni Reissell

Guest Research Scholar

Exploratory and Special Projects

T +43(0) 2236 807 678


Eckhardt S, Quennehen B, Olivie DJL, Bernsten TK, Heyes C, & Klimont Z (2015). Current model capabilities for simulating black carbon and sulfate concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere: a multi-model evaluation using a comprehensive measurement data set. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 15 (16): 9413-9433. DOI:10.5194/acp-15-9413-2015.

Lappalainen HK, Petaja T, Kujansuu J, Kerminen V-M, Shvidenko A, & Back J (2014). Pan Eurasian Experiment (PEEX) - A research initiative meeting the grand challenges of the changing environment of the Northern Pan-Eurasian Arctic-Boreal areas. Geography, Environment, Sustainability 7 (2): 13-48.

Yttri KE, Lund Myhre C, Eckhardt S, Fiebig M, Dye C, Hirdman D, Strom J, Klimont Z, et al. (2014). Quantifying black carbon from biomass burning by means of levoglucosan - A one-year time series at the Arctic observatory Zeppelin. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14 (12): 6427-6442. DOI:10.5194/acp-14-6427-2014.

Stohl A, Klimont Z, Eckhardt S, Kupiainen K, Shevchenko VP, Kopeikin VM, & Novigatsky AN (2013). Black carbon in the Arctic: The underestimated role of gas flaring and residential combustion emissions. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13 (17): 8833-8855. DOI:10.5194/acp-13-8833-2013.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313