Lassi Heininen is University Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at the University of Lapland, Finland.
State of the Arctic Strategies and Policies – A Summary
In the past five years, the eight Arctic states have each published comprehensive Arctic strategies, a
manifestation of the growing political interest in the region. This article examines the Arctic strategies of each
Arctic state in turn. It goes on to identify common themes found in the strategies: security and sovereignty;
economic and business development; sustainable and regional development; environmental protection and
climate change; safety, search and rescue; human dimension and peoples; research and knowledge; and
international cooperation. Similarities and differences between the Arctic states on these key themes are
examined, providing an insightful illustration of current regional values and interests.
The recent launch of national strategies and state policies on the Arctic and Northern affairs
by the governments of all eight of the Arctic states clearly show, even manifest, the growing
interest of these states toward their own northernmost regions, as well as the entire Arctic
region. The same level of interest towards the Arctic has also recently been demonstrated by
several powers from outside the region, including China, Japan and South Korea in Asia, and
France, Germany and UK as well as the European Union in Europe. Comparing this to the
situation in the 1990s as regards internal and foreign policies of the Arctic states
demonstrates a clear shift in interest towards the North, since in the early 1990s there were
only two countries - Canada and Norway – with “an explicit Arctic policy” (Heininen, 1992).
The Arctic strategies and state policies of the Arctic states, as well as agendas and emerging
policies on Arctic/Northern issues by non-Arctic states, can be seen as reflections of the
changing conditions in the entire Arctic region on one hand. On the other hand, they show
the growing international and global interest toward the Arctic region, and the entire North,