Activity Description:

Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON)’s Arctic Roadmap for Observing and Data Systems (Arctic ROADS) is a new effort to develop partnerships and define plans for improving observing and data systems to support societal benefits. SAON was created as a joint initiative of the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee. SAON’s vision is to advance a connected, collaborative, and comprehensive long-term pan-Arctic observing and data system of systems that serves societal needs for all engaged in decision-making and research in the region and beyond.

The purpose of Arctic ROADS is to mobilize equitable and systematic improvements to Arctic observing and data systems, in the form of collaboratively-developed implementation strategies. Strategies are advanced by self-organizing thematic Expert Panels (EP) working with the Arctic ROADS Advisory Panel through a four-phase integrated advisory process. The themes for the EPs are identified through engagement with the international community and existing networks, and are proposed to the SAON ROADS Advisory Panel (AP). The EP process has been shaped by good practices for observing and data system design, co-production of knowledge and other planning tools that have demonstrated effectiveness in advancing sustainable observing systems. Through this process, EP’s will build new partnerships and strengthen existing partnerships between observers, processors, users, and funders to improve Arctic observing and data systems in their thematic area. The Advisory Panel will work with all EP’s toward a systems-level view across thematic areas to integrate and further advance partnerships and link strategies.

Arctic ROADS recognizes that Indigenous Knowledge Systems function as Arctic observing systems. To respect Indigenous knowledge and sovereignty, the process works towards co-production with Indigenous leadership in every phase of its work. Arctic ROADS will serve as a platform to center Indigenous leadership, advance protocols and practices, and realize systemic change around implementation strategies, including data ethics, infrastructure, funding structures, use/reuse of data, technology, decision-making, societal benefit assessments, and Indigenous-led research. SAON - through ROADS, associated initiatives, and organizers of Arctic Observing Summits will lead these efforts.


  • On-going monthly meetings of the ROADS Advisory Panel that will advance the development of the planning process document library (here) and enable, through evaluation, the progress of Expert Panels that are currently piloting SAON’s Arctic ROADS process.
  • On-going “Open Partnership” meetings between the ROADS Advisory Panel and the pilot efforts provide opportunities for collaborative learning about the process and opportunities to clarify and adjust the process. These ~3/yr meetings (ACA, ASSW, Arctic PASSION GA) also contribute to the development of the planning process document library (here) and to the progress of Expert Panels that are currently piloting SAON’s Arctic ROADS process.
  • On-going “Indigenous Engagement” dialogs are led by the Arctic ROADS co-production of knowledge specialty team to develop specific guiding documents and tools on this topic and to inform the development of the Arctic ROADS process in ways that are enabling for co-design of observing systems with Arctic Indigenous peoples.
  • Ad hoc workshops to inform the ROADS process. For example, in the spring of 2024 we will hold a series of virtual workshops to gather information about how diverse efforts document requirements for observing and data systems in order to inform the Phase III document library for the Process.

ASSW/AOS 2024 convenings of relevance to SAON’s Arctic ROADS included

  • Open partnership meeting (described above)
  • Workshop on Indigenous Engagement during ASSW
  • Session on Impact Assessment as a method for informing observing and data system development
  • WG3 efforts to develop and inform Arctic ROADS


Main Organiser: 

Jan Rene Larsen (Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) Secretariat, Denmark); Lauren Divine (Director, Ecosystem Conservation Office, Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, USA); Margaret Rudolf (International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA); Sandy Starkweather (CIRES/CU Boulder and NOAA, USA)


Type of Activity:

  • Planning and coordinating activity


Dates and Locations: 

  • started in 2019


Open / Closed Activity:






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