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Report from "Coping Strategies in Periphery Communities:
A MOST CCPP Users Conference"
18-22 mars 1998 Isafjordur, Iceland

Unesco MOST CCPP with fundings from NORA (The Nordic Atlantic cooperation) and from The Norwegian Research Council invited in the fall of 1997 to the conference in Isafjordur, Iceland. The invitation was sent to representatives from the MOST CCPP communities, representatives from regional administrations and researchers in the MOST CCPP network from the Nordic countries, North-West Russia and Canada. The conference was opened by Nils Aarsæther, Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt, MOST coordinators, Kristinn Jon Jonasson, Isafjordur mayor. Carlos Milani, Unesco MOST concluded the first day by a speech on Governance and Globalization.

During the second of the five conference days there were presentations from 13 communities/ regional authorities in the MOST CCP Project. The representatives gave short presentations on their community today, and what they consider to be the major future challenges:

  • Kristinn Jon Jonasson, Isafjordur, Iceland
  • Halldor Halldorsson, The association of Local Authorities in the West Fjords, Iceland.
  • Agnes Pike, St.West Modeste, Canada,
  • Katriina Morttaja, Inari, Finland
  • Lars Holmgren, Arjeplog, Sweden
  • Anne Dalheim, Storfjord, Norway
  • Ole Dorph, Ilulissat, Greenland,
  • Zimina Nadezsda, Teriberka, Murmansk Region, Russia,
  • Jógvan Krosslá/ Suni á Dalbø, Vagur, Faroe Island
  • Leif Arne Viken, Båtsfjord, Norway
  • Brock Dickinson, Western Walley Development Authority, Canada
  • Jouko Ilvonen, Salla Kunta, Finland
  • Jogvan vid Keldu, Klaksvik, Faroe Island
The presentations made clear that even if people in the Circumpolar North speak different languages, belong to different ethnic groups and so on, the problems the communities face and try to solve have many similarities. The general, positive comment was an impression by the diversity of situations, perspectives and solutions which people brought to the conference.

The third day of the conference was dedicated to the theme "Perspectives on coping processes in communities" and presentations were made by the following:

  • Marian Binkley "Local Knowledge and Research"
  • Håvard Teigen "Local Democracy, Institutions and Rural Learning
  • Oddmund Otterstad " Three Places, Three Life Modes and Tree Realities. Wealth and Poverty in Three Norwegian Fishing Communities "
  • Marit Husmo "Processes of Modernization in On-shore Fish Prossessing in Norway"
  • Gestur Gudmundsson: "The Icelandic Way of Coping with a Basic Change of Conditions"
  • Richard Apostle "Transitions in an ITQ Fishery: Early Exits, Marginal Participation and Economic Rationalization in the Scotia-Fundy ITQ Group"
  • Dagny Sveinbjornsdottir "Coping strategies in Newfoundland: a Comparative Case Study"
  • Anna Heilmann "The Discourse on Industrial Development in Greenland"
  • Leena Soupajärvi- Finland "On Identity in Lapland"
  • Jógvan Mørkøre and Suni á Dalbø
  • John Hull "Tourism, Gender and the Labour Process: the case of Quebecs Lower North Shore" with Simon Milne.
  • Per Åke Nilsen "Coping Strategies in the North- The case of Arjeplog"
  • Seija Tuulentie "Land Ownership and the Debate on the Rights of The Sami People in Finnish Lapland"
  • Larissa Riabova- "Coping with Extinction: The Last Fishing Village on the Murman Coast"
  • Gestur Hovgaard-"Impressions from Fieldwork in Klaksvik, Faroe Island"
Sigurdur Gudmundsson, Institute of Regional Development, Iceland gave a lecture on the Icelandic Regional Policy: "Rural Policy, Coping Locally with Global Challenges".

The MOST CCPP steering committee had a board meeting Friday the 20. of March 20.00- 22.30 where Carlos Milani, UNESCO MOST, Paris, also took part, and gave information from Unesco, Paris.

The conference participants went to visit two businesses in Isafjordur, Pols Rafeindavorur

(Pols electronics, wich produce computerised scales and equipment for fish processing) and Básafell shrimp factory. The group also went to the community Flateyri which is part of Isafjardarbær (Isafjördur Municipality). In Flatyri we visited Basafell saltfish. Dorothee Lubecki, Tourism Consultant at The Economic and Regional Development Agency of the Westfjords made a presentation on Isafjordurs work on ecotourism. Representatives and researchers from Labrador, Arjeplog and Isafjordur established a group to follow up this contact.

The conference had all together 59 participants from 11 countries. In addition, people from The Association of the Local Authorities in the West Fjords, The Economic and Regional Development Agency of the Westfjords and journalists both from Isafjordur and national media attended parts of the conference. The conference was covered in local and national television and radio several times, and S.Tuulentie made a nice article from the conference in the local paper in Lapland. We appreciated that representatives from NORA, The Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Science, and The Norwegian UNESCO liason committee participated in the conference.

Snorri Grimsson gave an very interesting lecture about "The abandoned Hornstrandir region". A local choir "Songfjelagid ur Nedsta" ("The Tarhouse singers") gave vocal introductions to the local and historical life in the region.

Aim of the conference

The aim of the conference was to make an arena for discussion and cooperation between people from the local communities and the researchers in the MOST CCP Project. Part of this was conducted by informing each other about what we see as main problems, challenges and coping strategies for the future life in the North. There were some commonalities which emerged around the main themes to which we have frequently returned. (thanks to Richard Apostle that produced the following thematic summary)

Theme 1.
The structure of resource-based economic sectors. Why have various "modern" experiments to exploit resource peripheries failed to produce development?

A) Fish

Since the conference was in Isafjordur, the examples tended, not surprisingly, to focus on fish. From Vagur we had the most striking example of "modern" failure. What was once the "most well equipped plant in Europe" is now an industrial "white elephant" which has been replaced by six small plants (which in total account for a smaller overall job pool). Their maps and pictures raise the question of sustainable development in a very sharp way. Vagur, and other, similar communities cannot support inflexible, large-scale structures, particularly if they are controlled from outside ( The Klaksvik experience raises some interesting contrasts on the importance of local networks).

In Båtsfjord they address the same problem from the other side. The mayor insistence on having a population base of 2500 for Batsfjord is less connected to clubs and associations than to the importance of networks for numbers and diversity in constructing economic networks

The representative from Lower North Shore, Canada raises the interesting possibility that the inshore fisherfolk in the Strait area anticipated the general northern cod failure in 1992.

from Digby Neck we herard that a basic problem associated with the decline of the groundfishery in the area has been a general inability to capture "rents", or collect meaningful tax revenues, for the resources which will stay in the local are. The "Gordian Knot" for Nova Scotia is the untouchability of the offshore quotas. The offshore can't fish them efficiently, but wants to control, and reap profits from, the midshore and inshore effort needed to capture the resources.

The question of "consciously" choosing "less efficient" economic projects was also raised. This might be too self -deprecating. Alternatively, Carlos Milani talked, on the first day, of "social efficiency" and "economic accountability". These terms tend to be more accurate, positive descriptors for choosing projects which may lack narrow, shortrun economic efficiency. The whole question of "efficiency" seems to come weighted with neoclassical economic connotations which usually concede the debate before it has begun.

B) Tourism

John Hull pointed out that ecotourism is indeed coming to the Poles, but the tourists are coming to fragile environments. Further, it is debatable how much of this business can be captured by local business. He also showed that this business offer lower wage service jobs, predominantly for women.

C) High Tech Work

This kind of employment is to some considerable degree tied into the education of local youth, and their retention by the local communities. In conversation, the floor manager at one of the local businesses we visited, admitted that he was moving to Reykjavik because his wife wanted to go home; his predecessor had left within the past three years for the same kind of reason.

D) Oil and Gas

Although we had mentions of forestry, hydro electric power and mining, there was little discussion of this important topic. The representative from Commettee of Industrial Development in Murmansk Region with map had all sorts of lines on it indicating gas flows South and West. How much of the gas stays in the area to promote local initiatives? How much rent goes to the region of origin? (Nova Scotia has just concluded a bad deal for the Sable gas field which will see considerable gas flowing into the American northeast with little local employment or industrial spinoffs).

Theme 2.
Effective Communications

Luzin of Kola Science center forcefully pointed out: The hard edge of globalization, if it exists, is the global reach of transportation and telecommunications. Dickinson from Canada asked how we can create counter-communications, and he spoke of some local Digby experiments in computer access and networks. Binkley raised the question of exchanging "local knowledge" within these systems of communications. And there were pointed out that there are limits to localism, and that we may need to look at other "localisms" across the North Atlantic.

Theme 3.
Sociocultural Processes and Increased Diversification

Carlos Milani started the discussion by indicating that much of this discussion is premised on the breakup of the welfare state, even in Scandanavia. Gestur Gudmundsson argued that the strong polarization we are seeing in stratification terms extends into "primitive accumulation" in the areas of knowledge, skills, and innovation and Binkley suggested that there is a threat to the social fabric from new and merged industries.

On gender dimensions, we heard from Arjeplog in Sweeden and Salla in Finland that men are having trouble adapting the older ones from a commitment to a "macho" ethic, the younger ones from a sense of aimlessnes ("backroom boys") when many young women are leaving for education and better economic opportunities. On the other side of this coin, Anne Dalheim proposed that the Saami religion and culture can be a very positive integrative force, and this was followed up in academic terms about the social construction of "Lapishness". There were also discussions on the meaning and role of local identity in coping processes. A more positive self-consciousness and knowledge of the advantages of the region were asked for.

Theme 4.
How Do You Encourage Supportive Communities and Innovative Individuals?

From Arjeplog this one was answered most directly by saying that they support people and communities who "want to do something". They're not interested in groups who want three- or four-month holidays. You "must create a special way", but this can be "very difficult".

The neo-liberal state is not a friend of peripheral regions. From Isafjordur it was said, as a understatement, "Government policy is not friendly to remote regions". In Canada they have the same experience stated as: The Canadian federal and provincial governments are "downloading bigtime", and that Labrador was hurt by the dependency which came with Confederation. And it was also argued, in a slightly different way, that Greenlandic "municipal jobs are not related to economic activity".

Dependency is the downside legacy of the corporatist state. Sveinbjordsdottir spoke of parts of Newfoundland being "too used to being dependent". Heilmann commented on the shortcomings of "homerule" government in Greenland, and from Faroes they argued that modernist development stategies in the Faroes are partially a function of colonial connections.

You need to defend what you have. Hoovgard from Faroe Island suggested that Klaksvik was able to partially resist the neoFordist consensus of the 1990s by building on perhaps unique collective action traditions from the "third sector". And Milani spoke of new forms of governance which emphasized process over system, negotiation over dominance, and the joining of public and private, as well as the formal and the informal.

Theme 5.
Transnational Regional Cooperation

From Russia it was pointed out that the Barents regions is a coherent geographic region, while we from Finland heard about the more permeable boundaries in this region. Brock's notion of a "community of interest" suggested that as one moves west across the North Atlantic, the links become more virtual, but perhaps more vital. Otterstad stressed the need to acknowledge the diversity of values and political alternatives. One needs to be continually vigilant about "shifting winds".

On processes of participation and further cooperation in the MOST CCPP

On saturday - the fourth day - Amdam presented approaches to processes of participation.

List of themes sentral in the group discussion on saturday:

  • The construction of self-identity (focusing on the youth)
  • Focus on the advantages and quality of life in the region
  • Knowledge and strategies on how to raise local capital for investments
  • How to promote trust on the the local level
  • What is the role of local identity in coping strategies?
  • Mobility as an element of collective strategy for the community
  • What does periphery mean? Involving questions on:

  • - viability: size and distance
    - differatiation: emphasis on women and multi-culturalism
    - how to maintain identity in a globalized world?
  • How can the local level approach the global

  • - active instead of passive
    - how to benefit from information technology
  • Technology requires skills, education and language - how to approach this demand?
  • Need of tools to transform/translate knowledge
  • Some notes on the role of the users:

  • - contributions on collecting of information
    - identifying problems

On the last - fifth - day, Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt was summing up the conference in the following points:

1. What is the problem?

The conference focused on problems of depopulation, the restructuring of local economies as well as decentralization. The cases presented by both practitioners and researchers show the importance of local control of four types of "capital", if localities should be successful in coping with the problems mentioned:

  • social capital (local cooperation and networking, associations and voluntary organizations)
  • economic capital (local control of industries and finance through saving banks, local banks and other financial arrangements committed to locality development)
  • cultural capital (educational and technological standards)
  • natural capital (control with access to vital natural resources)
Comparing the cases presented, we have seen localities in crises due to lack of social capital (Russia) and lack of nature capital (Labrador) - but we have also seen some more successful Nordic cases, which have been able to combine all four types of capital. And this must be a general (and global) UNESCO-interest to learn: how did they cope?

2. Globalization how?

In the reality of the localities represented, globalization is primary a trend due to developments in four fields:

    - finance
    - information/data transmission (which is something different from knowledge
    - "cultural industry", amusement etc.
    - management of natural resources (like ITQs)
Apparently, globalization is not very much related to learning, politics, counter-culture. The Globalization of cultural industries is contributing to problems of self-identity, as values increasingly cannot be taken for granted, and questions of meaning in every day life result in both stress and building of new identities, meanings, and forms of trust. New non-local communities of professionals emerge on the basis of non-local linkages in contrast to local traditional communities. Regionalisation is often seen as an answer to globalization, but in the North it has so far been mostly of a political or cultural character, whereas socioeconomic regional cooperation is weak.

3. Coping strategies

As written in the chapter 1 of the first CCPP book (Coping strategies in the North, Local Practices in the context of global restructuring) ,coping strategies can be understood as guiding principles for construction of community and entrepreneurship characterized by

    - innovative response to global restructuring
    - collective action on a face-to-face base
    - active and meaningful practice forming identity
Therefore, an important research question seems to be: how can local linkages between firms, authorities, voluntary organizations etc. empower local mastering of vertical relations, involving non-local markets, authorities and organizations?

4. CCPP results expected

Researchers cannot and should not produce ready-prepared solutions or blueprints, but they can do a lot in presenting different possible scenarios adjusted to regional and local conditions - thereby transmitting ideas built on experience from other localities. Researchers should be able to articulate alternative development strategies. But of course, the goals have to be decided locally. Research results expected for the practitioners from the CCPP comparative case-studies are:

  • Knowledge about others and how "we" managed ourselves, through structured reports of coping strategies and methods
  • Transmission and development of ideas of how to act in coping in specific fields with certain problems (resource control, education, finance, cultural life etc.)
  • Studies of local influence on regional policies of the nation-state- and trans-national authorities
  • It is important to consider how knowledge and ideas can be communicated most efficiently during the research process and in direct dialogue with local practitioners.
In addition, according to the interest and initiatives of the practitioners themselves, there are possibilities of using the CCPP network for
  • Establishment of new transnational and international contacts and friendships between practitioners of the localities involved, e.g. resulting in exchange of officials, teachers, pupils/students, firms etc.
  • Action in cooperation in economic, political and/or cultural life

From the discussions several practical conclusions were suggested as guidelines for the future work:

  1. Establish a users network
  2. Its a national task to translate a national newsletter to avoid some language difficulties
  3. Establish subgroups on regional basis and themes of interest, including both practioners and researchers
  4. Include representatives from the community in planning conferences and research
  5. Make a plan for knowledge transformation from research to communities
  6. In other conferences- use more group sessions, more time for discussion and reflection between paper presentations
  7. More information to the communities
Please notice that the succes of several of these suggestions will depend on local initiatives of both users/practitioners and researchers. The secretariat will support such initiatives, but as the project in general has the character of being a commited network rather than a much more vulnerable "one boat" (top-down) project, everyone is asked to take the initiatives, they would like to support.

The Secretariat will concentrate on:

1. Information- network building

Information through the general international news-letter (paper) - and organization of more specific e-mail-lists. At the moment a list for researchers exist. A further list for practioners will be added - and we will also support lists for subgroups. List entry will be open and announced at the MOST CCPP homepage. At the moment we will invite you to subscribe to the MOST CCPP Network mailing list. This mailing list will be broad and include practioners, researchers and other interested in MOST CCPP related subjects.

  • send an e-mail message to majordomo@list.isv.uit.no
  • write nothing in the subject field in the heading of the message
  • use no autosignature
  • in the body of the message write <subscribe most-ccpp>

To make a contribution to the list

  • send a message to most-ccpp@list.isv.uit.no
  • provide a meaningful subject description in the heading
  • include your name and adress information in your message

2. Publication of research

We are planning a MOST CCPP second book based on some of the contributions from the Isafjordur conference, and some additional contributions will be invited. This book will address more explicitly the concept of coping strategies and case-studies reflecting the framework and manual suggested in the first book. The deadline will be first of November 1998. We will work on getting an international publisher for this edition.

Until then- you will have the opportunity to get some of the paper drafts by contacting the secretary.

3. Supporting research work

For 1998-1999 the main work will be to support the case-studies through:

  1. Fund-raising and practical support for smaller research groups (subgroups). Two groups has made a coordinated application to the Nordic Commitee of Social Science Research (NOS-S) for funding of research: One on the Inland North Calotte - another on fishery dependent villages in the Nordic Altantic area. Further applications including Canadian cases and funds should be worked out - subgruops on tourism development and on local coping with ITQ-consequences were suggested in Isafjördur.
  2. Organising a Ph.d. research course, where young researchers will present drafts of the research works and elaborate the analyses through comparison and theoretical and methodological reflection. The Nordic Research Academy (NORFA) has been approached for funding of a course in Ilulissat, Greenland, primo May 1999.
In addition, the secretary will participate in the research work

4. Dialogue Conference in the year 2000

Organising a new dialogue conference with practioners in the year 2000 - in a team-work between selected reseachers and practioners. The conference will include presentation of research results so far. The Murmansk Region has been suggested as the location for this conference.

Concluding remarks

The evaluating scheme returned show that the participants were very satisfied with the conference and the opportunity to listen to, and to meet people from other parts of the Circumpolar North. For many who visited Iceland for the first time as well as those who have been there before, it was a great experience to come to Isafjordur and Flateyri. We may see the weather conditions and the trouble it caused as part of the experience with periphery communities! At the secretat we still try to cope with the extra cost of this experience, we do hope that all participants had a nice trip home, afterall. The evaluation scheme gave some suggestions for the further work in the MOST CCPP, which we are thankful for.

The financial situation

The account from the Conference shows a small surplus.

Visit the Unesco MOST Clearing House on Internet http://www.unesco.org/most

Have a nice summer!

Best Regards

Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt - Coordinator
Nils Aarsæther - Coordinator
Marit Aure - Project Administrator

Find enclosed: The MOST CCPP book and brochure
"Coping Strategies in the North. Local Practices in the Context of global Restructuring"

To MOST Clearing House Homepage