Arctic Yearbook 2012
Finger-Stich and Finger
extractive industries and national economies.
This stance was already taken a decade earlier by the
ENGOs in close collaboration with United Nations.
But during the 1990s, with the territorial
expansion of both protected areas and extractive activities, the ENGOs had to address the extractive
industries in order to be able to pursue their core mission. They did so by developing partnerships
with the private sector, for which UNCED in Rio was already opening the doors (Chatterjee and
Finger, 1994). However, some actors working also within these organizations have been critical of
this development and have called on them to transform their strategies, so as to be able to address
the societal causes of unsustainable business and government practices (World Wildlife Fund for
Nature International Arctic Programme, 2008).
Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations
Indigenous peoples’ organizations, as we have seen, have taken an active role in shaping Arctic
environmental policy in order to have corporations and states respect their rights to prior informed
consent in all decisions, impact assessments included, that may lead eventually to extractive
operations affecting their lands and resources (Fjellheim & Henriksen, 2006). However, indigenous
peoples do not always yield to extractive interests, as illustrated by the Native Development
Corporation operating in the Kuparuk Industry complex at Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska, one of the greatest reserves for oil exploration in the US
(Osherenko & Young 1989: 13). Still, indigenous peoples have learned to both keep check of and
oppose extractive industries.
The Arctic Caucus of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in its statement to the Chairman
of that Forum, asserted in May, 2012 that:
The basic position seems to be that the most possible resources shall be extracted in the
shortest feasible period of time. No other strategy appears even to be contemplated,
despite the fact that the present one is unsustainable. Would it not make more sense that
no more resources are extracted from the Arctic each year than it takes to feed the
people living in the region? Or perhaps it at least makes sense to develop a more long-
term plan, according to which it is not necessary to empty the Arctic of resources, within
the next decade? Some resources could perhaps be saved for future generations to
extract? (Eleventh Session Agenda Item 4: Human rights, 15 May 2012).
In order to turn such wisdom into action, the representative of the Arctic Caucus has made a
proposals to develop institutions which will help regulate the behavior of the agents: not only states
but also corporations “who are the main players of the industrial revolution happening here” (ibid).