The "new Arctic" is drawing global interest due to geopolitics, militarization, resource exploration, tourism, and rising environmental alarms amidst swift climate shifts. As transport infrastructures evolve or expand, a pressing concern emerges: Will these frameworks bolster enduring human settlement and sustainable Arctic living, or will they favor transient dwellers like tourists and shift workers? Could transport systems be the key to preserving northern communities?

The Arctic, with its immense geopolitical, economic, and ecological significance, stands at the nexus of global attention. As nations vie for its abundant resources, tourism prospects, and strategic edge, transport infrastructures grow in tandem. This presents an urgent question: Are these infrastructures fostering enduring Arctic communities, or are they catering more to transient populations like tourists and shift workers? The intricacies of these systems may be pivotal in determining the future solidity of Arctic communities, especially in the face of climate shifts.

The Cooperative and Transformative Governance (CAT) research group of the Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) contributes to the ERC (European Research Council) Advanced Grant project "Building Arctic Futures: Transport Infrastructures and Sustainable Northern Communities" (INFRANORTH) coordinated by the University of Vienna by developing scenarios of future infrastructure development in selected Arctic communities.

Using a multi-scale (global-regional-local) scenario framework and pluralistic backcasting methodology, CAT researchers craft forward-looking scenarios for Arctic communities, focusing on the potential evolution of diverse infrastructures - airports, sea ports, railways, pipelines, trails, and more. These scenarios are used by the INFRANORTH team to steer discussions with local experts and stakeholders. This collaborative dialogue assists the selected Arctic communities in envisioning their futures amidst uncertainties and propelling policies that promote sustainable infrastructure-fueled growth.

Anticipated discussions on these scenarios are slated for community workshops in Churchill, Canada and Kirkenes, Norway, in the second half of 2023.

Schweitzer, P., Povoroznyuk, O., & Strelkovskii, N. (2023). Building Arctic Futures: Infrastructure Projects and Local Scenarios. In: Artic Science Summit Week, 17 - 24 February 2023, Vienna, Austria.

Research partner