Ole Arve Misund (59) believes he will transform quickly to a Tromsø resident when moving there from Bergen in order to take up the post as Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute.
- I am in Paris right now, attending an international conference organized by UNESCO, where we are presenting major Norwegian project such as e.g. "Food from the sea" and "The Nansen Legacy". It is warmer here than in Norway, and drier than in Bergen, Misund says with a smile.
A while ago he applied for the position of Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway’s most prominent institute for research, environmental monitoring and mapping of the Arctic.
- I applied for the job following a prolonged process where the Department of Climate and Environment wanted me on board.
It was an interesting position. Solid management plans were in place, and with his many years of experience from working and living in the Arctic, Misund grabbed the opportunity.
- I am very concerned with the significant changes in the polar areas. We have interests both in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and the Norwegian Polar Institute has become a leading institution both nationally and internationally, Misund says. Through his experiences from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, the University Centre in Svalbard and the (Norwegian) National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research he has acquired solid leadership and research knowledge of the polar areas.
Being a team builder is vital for Misund when taking up his new position at the Polar Institute, promoting the scientists, the competence and work produced in the high north.
- I want to emphasize promoting the scientists. In earlier days, the Polar Institute had very profiled directors, which they had to be in order to bring the organization out and into the limelight. Now, however, it is time to show more of its diversity.
As a boss, he is a listener and a thinker. He knows what he wants to achieve when pursuing the task at hand.
- I believe others are in a better position to say something about how I am as a boss. However, I do know that I stick to the strategy that is laid. In general, I am an open, sociable person who talks about things that are on my mind while also listening to others, Misund says with a smile.
Each and every one
To Misund, it is important that the nation grows aware of the extent of its northern areas, and of the significance these areas have for the environment – an area mirroring the physical development on earth.
- It is important that we understand our responsibility. This awareness became clearer through former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre, and the present conservative government has followed up. Yet it is also important that ordinary people also take on the green shift, the scientist says.
He believes we can expect significant changes in the time ahead. Changes to the ecosystem that no one had expected only a few years back.
- We cannot ignore scientific arguments and proceed as we have so far. Each and every one of us must contribute through initiatives and measures taken. We do not have many decades to act on if we are to reach the climate goals that have been set, he says.
He well remembers the day on which he got a whole new species on his fishing hook, a fish that does not normally swim as far north as Svalbard.
- Three years ago something happened that I had not imagined in my wildest dreams. I never thought I’d catch mackerel in Svalbard waters. A species belonging in the North Sea had gone all the way up to the Arctic, Misund says.
Misund is an adventurer. His passion is natural sciences.
- Conducting research on the large-scale fish stocks, understanding the dynamics of the eco-systems and being able to provide precise prognosis and scenarios – that is the research of my dreams, says the fish biologist who holds a PhD from the University of Bergen.
He is also excited to follow the Norwegian installations in the Antarctic from a professional point of view.
- If I get to be onboard the icebreaker research vessel ‘Kronprins Håkon’ on a journey far north of Svalbard, and also get to go on a trip to Antarctica, I will be thrilled. Because there is a bit of a desire for adventure behind my polar research interests, I’ll admit to that, Misund says with a smile.
Yet his goal is clear.
- Climate changes may lead to significant changes. We must therefore make sure human activities do not become disadvantageous for the northern ecosystem, Misund says in closing.
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