Arctic Yearbook 2012
25 Years of Arctic Environmental Agency: Changing Issues and Power Relations
nation-states have kept their capacity to control access to resources and have even reinforced it, to
the extent that they have framed energy and the environment as issues pertaining to national security.
This control allows them to meet state and private corporations’ demands, by adapting property laws
as well as the institutions regulating access, use and management of natural resources.
A recent evolution in official discourses and international development policies are the frequently
used concepts of ‘human security’ and ‘environmental security’. The term ‘security’ however, still
implies that the threat comes mostly from outside and that it is the state’s responsibility to provide its
own population with assistance. Framing issues in these terms legitimizes top down service and
assistance delivery, which tend to confine peoples in neo-colonial power relations (Cameron, 2012;
Ingolfsdottir, 2011). Further, when the geo-bio-physical limits or tipping points are passed, state
institutions may be overwhelmed in assisting communities to cope and possibly adapt (Nuttall,
State Owned Enterprises and Transnational Corporations
With receding ice as a result of climate changes, the Arctic is increasingly open to oil and mineral
exploration, driven by the world’s hunger for natural resources. TNCs (e.g., Total, BP, Shell, Exxon,
and others) and SOEs (especially Statoil of Norway and Gazprom as well as Rosneft from Russia)
are rapidly becoming the primary actors in the Arctic. Nation-states give concessions and attempt to
regulate them somewhat, but they are reactive. TNCs and SOEs are driving oil and gas exploration,
are putting up the necessary investments and are then conducting the resource exploitation. National
governments are deriving significant amounts of financial benefits from such exploration and thus
have a strategic interest in them. This strategic interest is even bigger if the companies are state-
owned. Consequently, the SOEs – especially Statoil and Gazprom – are the most aggressive
companies in the Arctic and their strategic interest is almost identical to the strategic interest of their
owning governments (Finger, 2013 forthcoming).
Environmental Non Governmental Organizations (ENGOs)
The 1990s were a decade of growth for international environmental non-governmental
organizations, arising out of an institutionalization of the ecological movement of the 1970s and the
1980s (Princen & Finger, 1994).
Focusing on protected areas and conservation of species, ENGOs chose to leave out non-renewable
resources from their conservation agenda, allowing them to circumvent the great interests of