Arctic Yearbook 2012
State of the Arctic Strategies and Policies – A Summary
Differences: The strategies of the five littoral states emphasize state sovereignty and defence.
Unlike the rest, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, emphasize comprehensive, or broadly defined,
Economic and Business Development
Promoting economic development including exploitation of natural resources is one of the
four pillars in the Canadian Arctic policy, the Arctic is a region with “dynamic economic
growth and trade” which provides the possibility of a “vibrant, prosperous future for all”
(Government of Canada, 2009: 2). Canada’s Strategy ties together social and economic
development, since in Canada’s vision, the Arctic is a region where “self-reliant individuals
live in healthy communities” (ibid: 22), the exploitation of natural resources is still high in
the country’s priorities.
The Kingdom of Denmark is expecting “a multi-faceted boom” in the Arctic region, as the
changes in climatic conditions, combined with technological developments, are making the
region’s “vast economic potential more accessible” (Kingdom of Denmark Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, 2011: 9). Here an “overriding political priority for the Kingdom and
particularly in Greenland to seize the many opportunities in the Arctic to create more growth
and development” by respecting the Arctic peoples’ cultures (ibid: 23). Consequently, the
Kingdom’s Strategy has a strong emphasis on (new) industrial activities in addition to
fisheries, such as hydropower, mining, tourism, oil exploration, and other minerals and
energy resources which are viewed as critical to development in Greenland.
The Finnish strategy paints a picture of the Arctic region as possessing “considerable
economic potential that can be of benefit to Finland” (Prime Minister’s Office, 2010: 8).
Finland defines the increase in Arctic maritime traffic and natural resource exploitation in
the region as business opportunities, and sees that it can benefit from the Arctic
developments through its Arctic expertise, know-how and research, the “Finnish know-
how”, which are internationally recognized and “must be utilized and supported” for
example, in the large and mega-projects of the Barents Region (ibid: 8 and 18-21).
The Icelandic Arctic policy outlines the aim to secure Iceland’s multiple interests “with
regard to the effects of climate change, environmental issues, natural resources, navigation
and social development” (Althingi, 2011: 1). Among these interests are economic activities