Project Description

The URSA MAJOR project (2021-2025) integrates various disciplines into a holistic socio-environmental program for ‘smart cities’. The focus of the project is on regions of accelerated climate change, where urban areas have urgent needs to improve their resilience and sustainability. The large number of partners involved in the project provide expertise in nature-based solutions, digital communications, remote sensing (satellite data), environmental education and urban wellbeing. 

The partnership of nine universities, research institutes and stakeholders strives to improve the environmental education of future sustainability stakeholders including civil engineers, ecologists, urban architects and more. The project will combine knowledge, tools and expertise necessary for educating future urban stakeholders and promoting the Green Deal transformation.

The three main aims of the project are:

1. Educate future urban stakeholders to promote the Green Deal transformation through research schools.

2. Strengthen access to digital communication and remote sensing products in two key areas (The Road North & The Road South).

3. Digitalization of collection, storage, analysis and usage of urban social and environmental information.

The project is coordinated by the Nansen Centre and is funded by INTPART 2020 – International Partnerships for Excellent Education, Research and Innovation.

Project Milestones

The aims of the project are fulfilled through various activities and events held throughout the year. 

Science Sessions at Arctic Frontiers 2023 & 2024

At Arctic Frontiers 2023: Moving North, a dedicated science session focused on ‘City Transformation By and For Citizens Using Digital Technologies and Visualisation’. Fourteen scientists (both internal and external to the project) presented their work orally and via posters. Recordings of the science session can be found on our Youtube Channel

At Arctic Frontiers 2024: Actions & Reactions, a science session will focus on ‘Smart Arctic Cities: Health, Wellbeing, Air Quality and Energy Needs’. Read more about this session and submit your abstract to present.

Urban Sustainability in the Arctic Research School

23 Students from five countries (Norway, Germany, Finland, India and the United States of America) gathered for a dedicated research school focusing on the specific needs of sustainable development in Arctic cities. The research school took place in Trondheim and students experienced future smart cities using virtual reality.

Presentations at Conferences and Events

The project was presented at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) conference in April 2023, the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) conference in February 2023 and at the ‘Urban and Societal Developments in Alaska and Norway’ seminar in Washington DC in Sepmtember 2022.

A male scientist stands on stage behind a podium with the Arctic Frontiers logo. He is presenting his work to the audience.

Above: Professor Igor Ezau, project leader for URSA MAJOR presents at the 2022 Arctic Frontiers conference.

Below: A map of the two key regions which the project focuses on.

Bottom: Summer school participants wear virtual reality headsets to visualise future urban sustainability. Photo credit: B. Jacobsen, SINTEF

students wearing VR headsets at the summer school


Skip to content