published on thearcticinstitute.org, 22.11.2022
At first glance, cities in the European Arctic differ from a traditional framing that is mostly shaped by southern discourses. Most of the remote cities have less inhabitants, need to adapt to a harsh climate and are confronted with impacts of the climate crisis, infrastructural challenges, outmigration and structural transformations. Moreover, many cities in the European Arctic were built on traditional Indigenous land and represent the nexus of urbanisation, (resource) extraction and colonialism. However, similar to cities in other parts of the world, also cities in the European Arctic are home to a diverse population: people with different professions, people from more southern regions, migrants from other parts of the world, youth and elderly people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people live altogether and shape the identities of the city. However, this ideal of multiple identities and urban inclusiveness is contested. By exploring the case of Kiruna in Northern Sweden, this paper’s objective is twofold: Following an interdisciplinary approach through combing theoretical and conceptual lenses from engineering and social sciences, we firstly examine critically in how far different identities are visible and tangible in the selected city. Secondly, we argue for just and inclusive structures that are open to minorities’ identities as stated by the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development for achieving a more culturally sensitive sustainable urban development. This paper makes a strong case to reflect on urban colonial legacies and local impacts from the ongoing green transition in the European Arctic (and beyond), stress the relevance of the integration of different knowledges for sustainable (urban) development and establish inclusiveness as vital part of a just transition.