The JUSTNORTH project

Find out about this research project: toward just, ethical and sustainable Arctic economies, environments and societies.


The development of the Arctic has been historically characterised by inequitable practices, further complicated today by the adverse effects of climate change. JUSTNORTH combines justice theories with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in order to evaluate the true viability of economic activities in the Arctic regions.

For millions of people inside and outside the Arctic who are impacted by such activities, the necessity and novelty of this project stems from the fact that decisions regarding these economic activities are largely rationalized by a single ethics system: utilitarian ethics. As a result, viability is too often determined by its profitability and technical feasibility with little or no consideration of whether the decision to pursue the economic opportunity is ethical – in other words, right or wrong – for the impacted human systems and ecosystem services.


The project will merge justice theories with sustainable development goals to enable EU policy coherence toward just transitions. This will be integrated with an investigation of existing Arctic economic activities in 16 case studies using innovative research methodology, through conceptual, comparative, descriptive, correlation, policy, legal and interview-based analysis techniques.

JUSTNORTH will offer policy, legal and regulatory recommendations, by developing a framework for determining the viability of economic activities in the Arctic in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Impact and outreach

JUSTNORTH will provide policy makers with insights from indigenous communities, local businesses, state government and NGOs of the social, economic and environmental complexities of the Arctic. The project will carry out 16 case studies, covering topics as diverse as Icelandic fisheries, polar tourism, wind farming, reindeer herding and employment. These activities will inform the creation of a “JUSTscore framework”, aiming to create transparency, documentation and standardisation for sustainable development across the Arctic, and even further into the EU.

Further information

JUSTNORTH brings together 14 partners (listed below) from 7 disciplines to evaluate the viability of Arctic economic activities.

The project runs from June 2020 to November 2023.

Funder: European Commission Horizon 2020


  • University of Sussex
  • Lapin Yliopisto
  • Stofnun Vilhjalms Stefanssonar
  • Universidad Complutense De Madrid
  • University College Cork - National University of Ireland, Cork
  • The University Court of the University of St Andrews
  • Cardiff University
  • Stiftinga Vestlandsforsking
  • Universidad Autonoma De Barcelona
  • Aalborg Universitet
  • Fisk Adrian
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Federal State Autonomous Educational Institution of Higher Professional Education Nothern (Arctic) Federal University
  • The University of Hong Kong