Skip to content
NUPI skole

Prestigious ERC funding to Elana Wilson Rowe – ‘I’m thrilled!’

The European Research Council (ERC) yearly awards talented early career researchers project funding through Starting grants. 403 research projects were granted this year, and Elana Wilson Rowe's (NUPI) is one of them.
Foto: Therese Leine Søgård/NUPI
Foto: Therese Leine Søgård/NUPI

‘After a long process, including an in-person interview with the panel in Brussels in May, this was a great piece of news to receive in the middle of summer holiday! For a long time, political efforts around what involved states have defined as ‘shared ecosystems’ have been lumped together with regional studies or environmental politics. My project examines if and how these ‘ecosystemic’ efforts are best understood as a distinct category of global governance. I’m thrilled about the research award and looking forward to recruiting a research team and getting started,' says Rowe.

She is among the almost 13% of applicants across the natural and social sciences who have been awarded funding from ERC’s Starting grants. Rowe will lead a team of researchers who are to conduct three case-studies to explore this question: Do regional politics around national border-crossing ecosystems share important resemblances and differ in significant ways from global politics more generally?

‘This is very exciting for Elana. She is an excellent researcher and a great colleague. We also see this prestigious project as recognition of NUPI’s research community,’ says NUPI Director Ulf Sverdrup.

Speaking for ecosystems

The project is titled The Lorax Project: Understanding Ecosystemic Politics.

The Lorax may ring a bell for those familiar with Dr. Seuss, who in the children’s book with the same title wrote: ‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues’.

So, who speaks for the ecosystems that cross the borders of states – and what happens to politics in this context? Rowe’s project will analyze the networks of actors, hierarchies between actors and diplomatic norms of the governance fields that have grown up around efforts to ‘speak for’ border-crossing ecosystems in three locations – the Arctic Ocean, the Amazon Basin, and the Caspian Sea.

  • Check out Rowe's most recent book, Arctic Governance - Power in cross-border cooperation (Manchester University Press), here.

‘Elana’s project is exciting, and it will provide new insights into the interplay between geopolitics and management of oceans and waters. Professionally, this is a very exciting topic, and it is of great significance to Norwegian foreign policy, says Sverdrup.

Excellent science

Horizon 2020 is the EU's current Research and Innovation programme, to which Norway contributes. The Starting grants are part of the programme’s 'excellent science' pillar, and are awards of up to EUR 1.5 million for 5 years. The receivers are talented researchers of any nationality with 2-7 years of experience after PhD.

‘With 3170 applications, 2018 Starting Grants were in very high demand,’ commented the President of the ERC,’ Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, in an ERC press release.

In their review, the panelists who has evaluated Rowe’s application, point out that she ‘has an impressive track record, including the publications and research funding profile, and she is very well qualified to conduct a project of this kind and that ‘the panel considers that it is a potentially very important project’.

  • Rowe is a regular columnist for High North news. Read her op-eds here.

Want to learn more about NUPI's research on the Arctic? Check out our Arctic page, and read more about our work on Climate here.


  • Climate


The European Research Council (ERC)


The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. It offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between grantees' pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.

Source: European Research Council