The Arctic Council and Canada's Chairmanship
- Patrick Borbey
Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for the Arctic Council
- Lawson W. Brigham
Greenland's State-Building Process: Still a Long Way to Go
- Damien Degeorges
Rendez-vous at Reykjavik
- Klaus Dodds
A Proliferation of Forums: A Second Wave of Organizational Development in the Arctic
- Heather Exner-Pirot and Joël Plouffe
Future Prospects for Petroleum Development in the Arctic
- Rúni M. Hansen
Arctic Council Secretariat Established
- Magnús Jóhannesson
The Importance of Public and Private Sector Engagement in the Arctic
- Steven R. Myers
Russian Strategy of the Development of the Arctic Zone and the Provision of National Security until 2020 (adopted by the President of the Russian Federation on February 8, 2013, № Pr-232)
- Alexander Pelyasov
The North and the Arctic: Québec's Interests and Actions
- Government of Québec
China, Japan and the Arctic in 2013
- Aki Tonami
Arctic Opportunities: An Alaskan Perspective
- Mead Treadwell
The Arctic from a European Policy Maker´s Perspective
- Michael Gahler
The Arctic Council and Canada's Chairmanship
On May 15, 2013, at the Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, Canada assumed the two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council for the second time since its creation in 1996.
More than four million people call the Arctic region home. In developing initiatives to bring to the Council for consensus decision, the Government of Canada consulted with Northerners and with its Arctic partners. A clear message was that the people of the North should be at the centre of the Arctic Council's priorities.
The theme for Canada's Chairmanship is "Development for the People of the North," with three sub-themes to guide the Council's work: "Responsible Arctic Resource Development," "Safe Arctic Shipping," and "Sustainable Circumpolar Communities." Inspired by these themes, Ministers in Kiruna endorsed the following new initiatives.
Circumpolar Business Forum
The business community is increasingly looking to the circumpolar region to build diversified commercial relationships. There is a great deal of interest within the Council to increase the focus of its work on sustainable economic development. This is why Ministers at Kiruna established a new Task Force that will work with business to create a Circumpolar Business Forum.
The goals of the Forum include bringing circumpolar business perspectives to the work of the Council, advancing Arctic-oriented business interests, sharing best practices and developing closer cooperation. The initial focus of the Forum will be on extractive industries and related sectors, such as shipping and infrastructure.
Arctic Marine Oil Pollution Prevention
It is important that Arctic States take the necessary measures to protect the Arctic marine and terrestrial environment, local communities and traditional livelihoods from the possible impacts of resource development in the North.
The Kiruna Ministerial Meeting saw Arctic States sign the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. This is the second legally binding agreement to be negotiated under the auspices of the Council, the first being the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic. This new agreement lays out the basis for cooperation and assistance in responding to marine oil pollution incidents in the Arctic region.
Building on the Council's past work, a new Task Force will develop an Action Plan to prevent marine oil pollution in the Arctic region.
Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism and Cruise Ship Operations in the Arctic
With the Arctic becoming more accessible, opportunities for tourism are growing. However, increased cruise ship traffic creates a new set of environmental and public safety challenges. The Council, in collaboration with cruise ship and tourist operators, will develop best practices and a set of guidelines for sustainable tourism, passenger safety and environmental protection.
Addressing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants and Adaptation to Climate Change
The Arctic is facing rapid changes in its climate and physical environment, with widespread effects on northern communities and ecosystems. At the Kiruna meeting, the Council released its second report on short-lived climate pollutants, which identified the substantial health and climate benefits that can be achieved by reducing these pollutants.
This scientific work will provide the basis for further action to address black carbon and methane emissions. A new Task Force will develop arrangements to achieve enhanced reductions of black carbon and methane emissions.
In addition to mitigation, the Council will also develop tools that enable decision makers to plan for adaptation to a changing climate and socio-economic conditions in the North.
Promoting Mental Wellness in Northern Circumpolar Communities
Change in the Arctic is impacting the way of life of indigenous communities and leading to difficult health and social issues. In response to these changes, the Council will evaluate which strategies and interventions are most effective with respect to mental health promotion and suicide prevention in circumpolar communities.
Incorporating Traditional and Local Knowledge and Promoting Traditional Ways of Life
Providing a voice to indigenous Arctic communities and respecting traditional and local knowledge are among the core values of the Council. During Canada's Chairmanship, the Council will focus on ways to better incorporate traditional and local knowledge in its work.
The Chairmanship will also support and showcase the value and importance of traditional ways of life for indigenous populations. By increasing awareness of these ways of life, decisions made outside the Arctic region may be better informed to avoid detrimental impacts on the culture, health, and well-being of the people of the Arctic.
Conservation of Migratory Birds
The Arctic Council will continue to pursue cooperation among Arctic and non-Arctic States to support the conservation of the migratory birds on which Northerners rely. The Council will work to map migration routes for key species and engage with countries along migratory routes to develop conservation strategies.
Enhancing Scientific Cooperation
Since the Council's establishment, it has promoted environmental protection and sustainable development based on collective scientific research. Scientific collaboration is particularly important at a time of increasing change in the Arctic and increased demand for research funding. A new Task Force will work to better strengthen scientific cooperation among Arctic States.
Strengthening the Arctic Council
The Arctic Council recently opened a new administrative Secretariat in Tromsø, Norway, to serve chairmanships and disseminate information on the Council's activities. The Secretariat will work to archive the Council's documents and make this wealth of knowledge accessible to the public and Northern decision makers.
Permanent Participants are an important and unique feature of the Arctic Council. The Chairmanship will identify ways to enhance the capacity of these organizations so that their involvement can keep pace with the Council's growing agenda.
Canada's Chairmanship will seek to raise awareness of the Council's contributions to the global community. It will encourage new approaches for increased coordination among Arctic States at other international organizations. Arctic Council States will continue to work closely together to encourage the development of a robust mandatory polar code for the Arctic Ocean at the International Maritime Organization.
Canadians look forward to hosting meetings of the Arctic Council over the next two years in Canada's stunning Arctic region and to showcasing its vibrant northern communities, cultures and stories.
Patrick Borbey is the Chair of the Arctic Council's Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) for the Canadian Chairmanship from 2013-2015. He is also the President of the Canadian Northern Development Agency (CanNor).
Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for the Arctic Council
Lawson W. Brigham
The Arctic Council, intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic states, has been a positive force for good since its 1996 creation by the Ottawa Declaration. Fostering Arctic state cooperation, engaging with Arctic indigenous residents, and conducting world-class assessments on climate change, hydrocarbons, shipping, and pollution, the Council has been surprisingly forward looking in its work. But it also has been a sometimes cautious, tentative body, challenged to reach consensus on several key issues and lacking in effective, external communications. Heightened global attention on the top of the world and increasing complexity of Arctic issues demand even more thoughtful deliberations and proactive action from this body. Canada, who succeeded Sweden as the Council's Chair this past May, faces a broad array of challenges unanticipated at the inception of the Council.
One change is clear. The Arctic Council must strengthen its communication with the rest of the world. External communication has never been considered one of the Council's strengths and many of its best assessments, decisions and policies have not been well communicated to the world by timely press releases and robust communiqués. A new, futures statement from Kiruna, 'Vision for the Arctic,' is a promising start. Hopefully, a new Arctic Council Secretariat established in Tromsø, Norway will begin to correct this weakness and facilitate moving the forum's attention equally outward from a long-term, inward focus on critical Arctic issues. How Canada employs the Secretariat will be an early indicator of whether improved communication and outreach to a global audience is high on the agenda.
In an era of continued misinformation about the Arctic, Canada can make a lasting contribution to the Council's influence by enhancing its education and outreach efforts through the new Tromsø Secretariat.
A significant challenge facing Canada as Council Chair is the integration of the twelve non-Arctic state observers into the Council's work. China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore were admitted in Kiruna, joining France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The new observers have met criteria for admission including recognition of Council objectives and sovereignty of the Arctic states; recognition of the legal framework for the Arctic Ocean as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; and, respecting the interests and cultural heritage of Arctic indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants. Despite some reservations by the Council's Permanent Participants (six Arctic indigenous organizations) regarding these admissions, all of the new, non-Arctic state observers can bring expertise and funding to the technical working groups and the Permanent Participants. Importantly, their primary role is to observe all aspects of the Council's deliberations. No other Arctic forum can provide this high level of engagement with the Arctic states. Hopefully, Canada can also coax from them contributions that can support the interests of the indigenous peoples and the working groups where the non-Arctic state observers can be most influential.
Most of the Arctic is an ocean and new marine traffic requires immediate attention by the Arctic states to address marine safety and environmental protection issues. Fortunately, Canada has been a leader in these efforts at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and these issues collectively are a key agenda theme for the Canadian Chairmanship. Also, the Council has its own policy framework for action in the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) approved by consensus of the Arctic Ministers in 2009. Continued focus on implementing AMSA's 17 recommendations - a mandatory IMO Polar Code for shipping is the most critical - would go a long way to protecting Arctic people and the marine environment. Canada, Finland and the United States led the AMSA for four years and they are conveniently the three next Council Chairs. These three states should agree to focus and coordinate their efforts on Arctic marine safety and marine environmental protection as key elements of their plans to lead the Arctic Council during the next six years. Related to these AMSA implementation efforts is a new task force on oil pollution prevention approved by the Arctic Ministers at the Kiruna Ministerial; an Arctic Council action plan and recommendations are to be developed by the next Ministerial meeting in 2015. It will be interesting to see how the work of this task force links with ongoing work of the Council's own working group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) and the Polar Code development at the IMO.
Attention on the Arctic's residents has always been a critical focus of the Arctic Council. The six Permanent Participants sit with the Arctic states at Council meetings and are key partners in this forum. Circumpolar health and education are critical issues as is the sustainability of life in the North. With competing uses of the Arctic Ocean, subsistence and food security are looming issues facing many Arctic coastal communities. Canada's circumpolar leadership role in focusing on an array of indigenous challenges in all Arctic regions can set a new level of engagement by the Council.
Sweden as Council chair 2011-13 made important strides in linking the commercial world to the Council. Since much Arctic change is driven by globalization and development of Arctic natural resources, it makes sense to bring the business community into the Council's work on such topics as shipping, oil and gas guidelines, sustainable development, and environmental protection. Again in Kiruna, the Arctic Ministers agreed to establish a task force whose mission is to facilitate the creation of a circumpolar business forum. Canada can help shape this forum so that it focuses on Arctic sustainable development and the promotion of long-term, sustainable Arctic communities, an objective it would appear at heart of the Canadian Chairmanship.
In assuming the Arctic Council Chair this spring, Canada faces a set of challenges and opportunities in moving the Arctic state agenda forward. Critical to Canada's success will be better communication to the world. All of the issues will require Canada's proactive action and strong consensus building among the Arctic states.
Dr. Lawson Brigham is a distinguished professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a long-time contributor to the work of the Arctic Council. During 2004-09 he was chair of the Council's Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) and Vice Chair of the Working Group Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME).
No Entry for EU into the Arctic while Guaranteeing Access to Others?
Why does Greenland receive approximately 25 million euros per year from the European Union, despite the fact that it is not even one of its members? At the same time, the government of Greenland continuously threatens to prioritize China over Europe, regardless of the generous money it receives from Brussels under the Partnership Agreement between the EU, Denmark and Greenland. And why was the European Union's application for observer status at the Arctic Council deferred this spring?
At first glance, the European Union almost seems to be losing its grip on the Arctic agenda. Although a key supporter of the region, the EU's effort to play any key role in the Arctic has fallen short of expectations.
As stated in the EU Arctic Strategy, the Arctic is an area of growing strategic importance and also an example of successful international cooperation contributing to peace and security in the region. Russia and Norway, for instance, were able to conclude a maritime treaty on cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean after some forty years of negotiations in stalemate. The European Union is also the world's strongest proponent of international efforts to fight climate change.
As global warming opens up sea routes and prospects for mining in the Arctic, there has been a global rush to secure a share of the looming profits. In connection with the last parliamentary elections in spring, Greenland has signalled that it is open for foreign investments, particularly in the mineral and oil sectors. Several of the mineral deposits in the Arctic are perceived as crucial for European industries. Greenland has been extremely eager to see investments begin to pour in. Consequently, the leadership of Greenland has continuously urged the EU to follow up a recent memorandum of understanding concerning Greenland's raw materials and to start investing. Last spring, Greenland's former Prime Minister reiterated that he was tired of waiting, saying that he has come back empty handed from all too many trips to Brussels. In light of the new circumstances, it is significant that the new Prime Minister of Greenland and her party have been involved in an internal debate in Denmark on the definition of "strategic raw materials" and about who should define what the term means.
From an EU point of view, the memorandum has been seen as a way to ensure that Greenland will not commit itself to mining contracts with, for example, solely China. The European Union is, in plain language, paying Greenland off in order to secure a non-monopoly in a bid to guarantee that other countries, among them hopefully also European players, also have a say. China is strongly interested in mining investments in the Arctic in order to obtain valuable minerals, including iron, zinc and rare earth minerals crucial for high-technology production. To the dismay of European politicians, Greenland has been leaning towards Asia in its efforts to secure rapid investment deals.
Moreover, the European Union has no significant role to play in the Arctic Council, the body that has become the de facto institutional battleground for Arctic players and competitors. What used to be mainly a research body has rapidly become an important gateway to the Arctic. The EU application for observer status was deferred last spring, whereas India, South Korea and Singapore were taken on board. The formal reason stated for the rejection was that the EU Commission, as a supranational organisation, does not meet the criteria for membership in the Arctic Council and is considered to erode the importance of state sovereignty in the Arctic.
One of the unofficial obstacles to observer status is the EU's ban on seal fur import, a ban that has been challenged especially by Canada based on the claim that the rights of the indigenous people in the Arctic must be preserved. In this regard, it is a shame that co-operation in the Arctic area is complicated as a result of the EU's animal protection policy. The issue will not be easy to settle as the ban is part of EU legislation. However, EU legislation and policy have growing relevance not only for the EU member states but also for third countries.
It is also worth considering that the EU provides a significant amount of funding to initiatives supporting indigenous groups and local populations. As stated in the EU Arctic Strategy, funding programmes during the last seven co-financing years have amounted to 1.14 billion euros (1.98 billion euros, if we include member state co-financing).
An overall solution to these dilemmas could be a moratorium, an agreement to stop using the Arctic resources until we can find sustainable ways of utilization. Environmental groups and the European Parliament have supported this policy, but the official EU stance has been to find a balance between economy, environment and a potential moratorium.
A situation must be avoided where disputes in fact accelerate the use of Arctic resources. The European Union has built its Arctic policy around three main objectives: protecting and preserving the Arctic in unison with its population, promoting the sustainable use of resources and international cooperation. It is essential that environmental and social sustainability are prioritized in the EU's Arctic policy and that, for instance, mining projects are carried out in a responsible manner.
From a security point of view, the Arctic is already complex; involving actors from the region and from beyond. Peaceful development of the Arctic requires security arrangements capable of managing the transformation of the region in a stable manner. The best option would no doubt be to demilitarize the area, as is the case in the Antarctic, in order to pave the way for better framework conditions for Arctic co-operation and sustainable Arctic governance. Developing joint environmental governance and maritime search and rescue are also important policy options.
Managing competition, promoting cooperation and developing security arrangements could be a task to be taken on by the European Union in close cooperation with all actors in the Arctic. There are Arctic insiders and outsiders and their interests should be integrated. Needless to say, the measures to be taken require EU financing. But how far should the European Union – as a non-member of the Arctic Council – go in offering financial means to a region without having a say in actual decision-making?
Tarja Cronberg is a Finnish Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and a member of the Greens/EFA group.
Greenland's State-Building Process: Still a Long Way to Go
In 2009, Greenland got Self Rule within the Kingdom of Denmark. This upgraded status from Home Rule is seen as the last stage before a possible independence from Denmark. Time shows however that there is still a long way to go before thinking about independence: amongst other challenges, Greenland's economic situation is not going well, unemployment is high and expected large scale projects take time to be concretised.
In the most optimistic forecast, it would require several decades before Greenland can seriously think about becoming a state. That said, the longer Greenland will wait to develop and make necessary reforms such as an important reduction of public expenses, which in a report from 2010 accounted for about 75% of Greenland's GDP (NIRAS, 2010), the more difficult it will be for Greenland to 'safely' take the Arctic 'motorway' (where things go fast) alone [without the Danish 'driving instructor' or 'co-driver' as the Self Rule Act talks about 'equal partners' (Lov om Grønlands Selvstyre, 2009)], as an independent state. Simply because the Arctic will have become too important to take the risk of being a weak, or at least a too vulnerable state, by going faster in the state-building process.
As self-ruled territory, Greenland has a unique chance to experience sovereignty in some key areas and feel some realities experienced by states, without being a state. Being a state requires not only incomes, something Greenland would have to think about on a long term perspective and not just to become independent, but also a significant number of highly educated persons.
Putting defence aside, as it is clear that an independent Greenland would not be able to have its own defence forces if a country such as Iceland doesn't, capabilities regarding foreign affairs is and will be one of Greenland's key challenges. The Greenlandic Department of Foreign Affairs, made of a main office in Nuuk and two representations (Copenhagen and Brussels), counted in 2013 about 15 persons, including the minister and interns. In comparison, a micro-state such as Monaco, less inhabited than Greenland and with much fewer issues to deal with, had at the same period about 36 persons, including the minister, at the main office of its Department of External Relations.
Looking at the case of Iceland, formerly part of the Danish Kingdom, is more than interesting with regards to some dimensions of Greenland's future and its challenges. Iceland manages to run a foreign service which counts 25 diplomatic representations (including Consulates General), with most of the time two or three diplomats in each of them to deal with all issues, from consular affairs to politics, economics and culture, while being in a key country with a number of side-accredited countries and sometimes international organisations to follow. With some acknowledging that in the case of Iceland it can appear under-staffed to properly deal with foreign affairs, Greenland's capabilities would then seem particularly challenging, if not symbolic, at a time where the territory is experiencing a new reality. Greenland has talents, but too few to handle the growing international interest it is experiencing.
Education and a greater internationalization of Greenlanders' minds, notably through the media, are therefore absolute key challenges that Greenland needs to face with regards to its state-building process.
In a few years' time, Greenland, an island of 2,166,086 km² inhabited by less than 57,000 persons, has experienced rapid changes when it comes to its external relations. It has been and still is receiving an unprecedented amount of international interest due to the territory's strategic assets, notably in terms of natural resources; and due to the growing importance of the Arctic region. When global powers such as China meet Greenland, things get further intensified.
In the context of a global raw material sector, and because Greenland's development takes place in a rapidly changing Arctic region, it is also critical for Greenland to have more global-oriented politicians, especially when it comes to the lobbying related to foreign investments, which are at the core of Greenland's development. It takes only 28 persons, including ministers, mayors and the majority of the Parliament, to politically run the territory.
A single project such as the Kvanefjeld one in South Greenland (one of the largest deposit of rare earth elements and uranium in the world) could make Greenland's GDP rise by more than 20% (Søren Duran Duus, 2013). In the case of an iron ore mining project outside Nuuk (Isua project), the potential offered could simply double (Krarup, 2013) Greenland's GDP. It gives one an idea of the weight such projects could have on Greenland, its economy and its few decision-makers.
As the financing for major projects in Greenland will probably come from Asia, and given Greenland's characteristics, the self-ruled territory needs to strengthen its political ties with its direct neighborhood and historical partners: the Nordic region, an area to which it belongs, the European Union and the United States.
Following the 2013 parliamentary elections in Greenland, a major challenge appeared for Greenland's development: ensuring stability during changes of government. Stability is needed in terms of regulatory framework, which is critical for attracting the foreign investments that Greenland needs; but also with regards to Greenland's dialogue with Denmark and the Arctic Council. In other words, domestic politics is one thing, but credibility is needed for Greenland's image on the international stage. Disregarding realities, the main one being that Denmark is in charge of the Kingdom's foreign and security policy, may be counter-productive for Greenland in its relationship with Denmark.
2014 will continue to be interesting to follow when it comes to the relationship between Greenland (in charge of managing its natural resources) and Denmark (in charge of the Kingdom's foreign and security policy), particularly on the outcome of the Greenlandic Government's willingness to remove a zero-tolerance policy on extracting radioactive elements, which includes uranium, in Greenland.
Krarup, Poul (September 2013). « London Mining vil betyde en fordobling af BNP », Sermitsiaq 6(36): 10.
Lov om Grønlands Selvstyre, (12 June 2009), Gazette A no. 473. Retrieved September 29, 2013 from [http://www.stm.dk/multimedia/selvstyreloven.pdf ].
NIRAS Greenland A/S (2010), for Sulisitsisut, « Økonomisk selvstændighed: En enorm opgave, men ikke håbløs ». Retrieved September 29, 2013 from [http://www.ga.gl/Portals/0/
Søren Duran Duus (25 March 2013). « GME-direktør går ind for royalty». Retrieved September 29, 2013 from [http://sermitsiaq.ag/node/150691].
Damien Degeorges is Head of International Business Diplomacy Chair, Paris School of Business, France.
Rendez-vous at Reykjavik
The first meeting of the Arctic Circle grouping (or more accurately a 'new assembly for international co-operation on Arctic issues') will take place in the Icelandic city of Reykjavik in October 2013. I won't be able to attend so will have to console myself with a more virtual presence. Looking at the official website (http://www.arcticcircle.org/), and monitoring the tweets from the official twitter site of the Arctic Circle grouping (https://twitter.com/ArcticSummit), it would appear that preparations are mounting for this autumnal meeting. What might this 'assembly' achieve and why might it matter? This short commentary offers some tentative answers.
We should remind ourselves, firstly, of the published mission statement of this grouping before reviewing the background to its creation. The rationale for the 'assembly' is described in the following terms:
The mission of the Arctic Circle is to facilitate dialogue and build relationships to address rapid changes in the Arctic. With sea ice levels at their lowest point in recorded history, the world is waking up to the challenges and opportunities this presents for all of us. We aim to strengthen the decision-making process by bringing together as many international partners as possible to interact under one large "open tent".
When this mission statement first emerged it did cause some alarm because of the direct inference that 'decision making' and 'international partners' need to be both improved and brought into contact with one another in the context of the Arctic. The reference to an 'open tent' remains an intriguing one – an analogy that does not quite work as well as it might in English. While an open tent might suggest greater possibilities for access, it might paradoxically be more susceptible to being blown away in inclement conditions.
The integrity of a tent needs to be monitored and the mission statement is rather vague about who or what might control access and stability of the said 'open tent'.
On April 17, 2013, the President of Iceland came to the National Press Club in New York to discuss this initiative further.1 President Grímsson is a veteran politician. He is serving a fifth term as president, and holds a PhD in political science. Previously he was a Finance Minister and a member of the Icelandic Parliament. The timing was significant. Iceland had signed a free trade agreement with China (15th April 2013) and entered into various negotiations with Chinese and Icelandic organizations including oil exploration and shipping. The presidential talk also coincided with Iceland's growing interest in being understood by others as an Arctic Ocean coastal state.2 President Grímsson's talk was significant as he told his audience about the growing 'visibility' of what he termed a 'global Arctic'. Significantly, he told his audience about his private meetings with South and East Asian political leaders who all mentioned their interest in the Arctic, and desire to obtain Observer status at the Arctic Council. The Arctic Circle initiative was, as he concluded, driven by recognition that 'the Arctic is not just our Arctic, it is a global Arctic and what happens there will have fundamental consequences for every nation in the world'.
In the question and answer session, President Grímsson was asked about the difference between the Arctic Circle and the Arctic Council. His answer, significantly, made reference to the fact that Observers to the Arctic Council are not allowed to contribute to the formal debate of the Council. In contrast, the Arctic Circle would facilitate debate and dialogue, which would not privilege some actors more than others. He spoke of the Arctic Circle being a democratic 'open tent' and was intended to be a facilitator for others to participate including the Northern Research Forum and Polar Law Symposium.
The timing of this New York-based event was of course significant. Delivered approximately a month before the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Kiruna, the press coverage in the aftermath of the presidential address explicitly linked this initiative as a clarion call for a broader recognition of the extra-territorial interests of other states and business corporations. On May 15th, under the chairmanship of Sweden, the Arctic Council membership admitted six new states, China, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, to join the six states, nine intergovernmental organizations, and eleven non-governmental organizations that already had 'permanent' observer status in the Arctic Council (AC). Swedish foreign minister and meeting host Carl Bildt told The New York Times (16 May 2013) that the expansion 'strengthens the position of the Arctic Council on the global scene'.3 The decision to admit all the prospective states to observer status took its toll on other applicants including non-state organizations such as Greenpeace and the Association of Oil and Gas Producers. The candidature of the European Union was postponed. At the Kiruna meeting, Greenpeace staged a protest against Arctic oil and gas drilling and has committed itself to continue its high profile campaign.
So what has the Arctic Circle initiative achieved at this stage? One conclusion would be that the timing of this initiative contributed to the increased likeliness of new observers such as China and Japan being admitted in May 2013 to the Arctic Council, a result of President Grímsson's public championing of these new states (he never once mentioned Italy in his speech) and willingness to engage with business organizations. Indeed, the admittance of these new observers in some ways consolidates a privileging of states regardless of their geographical relationship/location to the Arctic. Moreover, the Arctic Council has committed itself to creating a Circumpolar Business Forum (to be launched in 2014). In a speech delivered by Patrick Borbey, chair of the Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs), it was noted that, "the goals of the Forum include bringing circumpolar business perspectives to the work of the Council, advancing Arctic-oriented business interests, sharing best practices and engaging in deeper cooperation. The initial focus of the Forum will be on the extractive industries sector and related sectors such as shipping and infrastructure".4 Would this have happened had not the Icelandic president made it clear in his speech that businesses/corporations would be welcome in a new Arctic Circle?
Looking ahead to the October meeting, I think the significance of this inaugural event (it is hoped it will be an annual affair with a rotating Arctic location) is that it is simply happening in the first place. Depending on the attendance list and the scope of the event, we might garner further clues to its longer-term future. The UK government has confirmed, for example, that there will be an official British presence. More substantively, we may well see that the Arctic Circle initiative contributes to new pressures on the Arctic Council to grant further recognition to observer states such as China, UK and Japan in ministerial meetings and elsewhere. Giving observers greater scope to contribute to the formal debates of the Arctic Council might prove a decisive issue. The Circumpolar Business Forum's emergence in 2014 will also be interesting to observe to assess whether this will give greater recognition to the interests of corporations in the formal business of this inter-governmental forum. Paradoxically, perhaps, the Arctic Circle initiative has done considerable 'work' in Arctic politics even before the inaugural meeting – recent applicants such as China are no longer ad hoc observers of the Arctic Council after all.
1. Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson address at a National Press Club Luncheon April 15, 2013 available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW0p_Eh94PI
2. K. Dodds & V. Ingimundarson. (2012). Territorial nationalism and Arctic geopolitics: Iceland as an Arctic coastal state. Polar Journal 2: 21-37.
3. P. Steinberg & K. Dodds. (2013). The Arctic Council after Kiruna. Polar Record. Published online 13 August 2013. Available at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8970062
4. Presentation by Patrick Borbey, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials. Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Conference. Anchorage, Alaska Thursday, July 18, 12:00. Available at: http://www.arctic-council.org/index.php/en/document-archive/category/454-canadian-chairmanship-representation?download=1800:patrick-borbey-sao-chair-speech-18-july-2013.
Klaus Dodds is Professor of Geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London.
A Proliferation of Forums: A Second Wave of Organizational Development in the Arctic
Heather Exner-Pirot and Joël Plouffe
Circumpolar relations have been nothing if not trendy in recent years. First came the domino sequence of Arctic strategies from each of the Arctic states between 2008-2011. This was succeeded by a rash of Arctic Ambassadorial appointments, with Japan's appointment of Masuo Nishibayashi in March, 2013, making eleven (click here for Arctic Yearbook 2012's list of Arctic/Non-Arctic ambassadors). But the most recent inclination has been to establish pan-Arctic forums, focusing on the 'future of the Arctic', and open to a global audience of self-appointed Arctic stakeholders.
The most high profile launch of this new breed of circumpolar organization is the Arctic Circle, Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson's vision of an open, global platform by which to address the region's most pressing issues. Uniting a motley crew of oil and shipping executives, climate advocates, Asian scientists and a European monarch – Prince Albert II of Monaco – the Arctic Circle is a response to the perceived parochialism of the Arctic Council and an attempt to create a space for a diverse range of interested voices (see Klaus Dodds' commentary in this volume).
Then there are the burgeoning Arctic economic conferences, including the World Arctic Forum (Canada); the Arctic Energy Summit (Iceland); the Arctic Imperative (United States); the Arctic Summit (Norway); the Arctic Exchange (Sweden); the Arctic Business Forum (Finland); the Arctic Policy and Economic Forum (Denmark); the Arctic – Territory of Dialogue (Russian Federation), and last but not least, the Arctic Council's own, as yet unlaunched, Circumpolar Business Forum, under the auspices of the Canadian Chairmanship. Significant new oil plays may be a decade away, but the Arctic looks open for business.
Add to these the scientific, such as the International Conference on the Arctic Ocean Acidification and the Circumpolar Agriculture Conference; the pragmatic, such as the World Snow Forum and the 5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations; and the obscure, such as the Nordic Theoretical Archaeology Group conference. Finally, we would be remiss to omit the growing number of Arctic-themed conferences held by and for the EU organization and its members, such as the EESC's public hearing on the European Union and Arctic Policy; the French Arctic Initiative; the Alfred-Wegener-Institut's Arctic Dialogue; or the very euro-themed Arctic Frontiers. The effect is one of intensification and momentum in all things Arctic, where the future of the Arctic is being actively constructed (click here for our *40-page* inventory of this year's Arctic meetings, conferences and events.)
Plus Ça Change...
There is nothing new about the development of regional organizations and forums in the Arctic. The post-Cold War era saw a proliferation of Arctic bodies, from IASC and IASSA to the Northern Forum (NF), the Northern Research Forum (NRF), the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), and the Calotte Academy; and 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of a host of circumpolar organizations, such as the Barents-Euro Arctic Region (BEAR) and the Sami Parliament of Sweden.
But the preponderance of outside interest, and investment, in Arctic affairs is a conspicuous reflection of the breadth and depth by which the region is globalizing. The regionalization that took place in the early 1990s was very much an insider affair, composed of career scientists, indigenous leaders and the northern political elite. Now it is not just the Chinese that are demanding a voice in the region's affairs: garden-variety environmentalists, mainstream journalists and even the Swedes have discovered they care quite a bit with what happens in the region (see Doug Nord's article on the Sweden Chairmanship in this volume).
For Better or For Worse
It has been said of globalization that it is neither inherently good nor inherently bad, but a process to be managed for the betterment of society. The Arctic is particular in that the interests and values of different actors are often wildly competing, and the globalization of the region seems to have exacerbated many differences.
Misperceptions and romanticisms about what the Arctic represents and promises abound. The Arctic Council's Permanent Participants were probably right in their hesitancy to invite new actors in as Observers when their own seats were so hard won. But one must appreciate the extent to which newcomers to the region are attempting to become informed about the region's rich culture, politics and history. And if all the attention on the Arctic seems a little bit much, consider how it has also been productive: we are many times more likely to see stricter environmental regulations in the Arctic in the next five years then we are to see major conflict, something that would not have been said in 2008. High-quality information from a variety of sources and perspectives are being generated, communicated and used in policy-making, at a rate fast enough to have impact, but slow enough to ensure stability and consensus. If pro-development interests think progress in the Arctic is too cold, and pro-conservation forces think it too hot, then it is probably just right.
In that respect, the proliferation of new organizations can be seen as a positive development, and one, like all waves, that is likely to crest and retreat. But what they leave behind in their wake will have lasting impact.
Heather Exner-Pirot and Joël Plouffe are the Managing Editors of the Arctic Yearbook.
Future Prospects for Petroleum Development in the Arctic
Rúni M. Hansen
It has been an interesting few years for our industry and interests in the Arctic. Many deals have been done, new areas have been opened and discoveries have been made. The whole industry is positioning itself for the future. We are dealing with complex regulatory and stakeholder concerns. We are driving technology to enable us to develop Arctic resources, safely and economically. At the same time we see that development is going slower many would have thought only a short time ago. And this might be a good thing.
The world's eyes are on the Arctic region - a region that signifies large opportunities and resources, but is also a unique and harsh operating environment.
The Arctic is also a region that ranges from ice-bound areas, to ice-free areas such as the southern Barents Sea. It's not a question about one-size fits all, not for our industry and not for the communities within the Arctic.
Our task is to carry out our operations in collaboration with industry, government, regulators, and not least the communities our activity affects – providing shared value. But we in industry must not mistake legal permissions for permanent access. In a new frontier, access must be earned – again and again.
This is no easy task, and the Arctic poses specific challenges with regards to distance, weather, logistics, environmental stewardship and technology needs. Our strategy is to approach this in a stepwise manner – learning from each step and taking that experience with us when we plan future operations. But why be there at all, one might ask?
Statoil is working across the Arctic because we believe its resources will be a critical source of energy for a growing world. Economic growth and rising standards of living will result in a more than 30 per cent increase in global energy demand over the next 30 years. In order to replace existing production and meet increases in future demand, the world will need an "all of the above" energy strategy – one that includes the Arctic resources.
But it's not only a question of filling an increasing demand. Most of the fields that will produce in 2030 and 2040 have not yet been discovered. In fact we have been producing more oil than we have discovered every year since the early 1980s. It is a huge task for our industry to fill the gap that is certain to appear.
2012 and 2013 has seen some areas move ahead and others pause. This is the nature of our industry. Rising costs and technical complexity also means we take our time to fully evaluate the risks and rewards.
This gives us time to do things right. There is no room for mistake in the Arctic.
Rúni M. Hansen is Vice President and Head of Statoil's Arctic Unit, Norway.
Arctic Council Secretariat Established
The Arctic Council was established in 1996 as a high level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states with the involvement of Arctic indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants. The Arctic Council Chairmanship rotates every two years amongst the eight Arctic States. The work of the Arctic Council is conducted between the Ministerial Meetings by the Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) in consultation with Permanent Participants, which represent the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
In order to strengthen the capacity of the Arctic Council to respond to the challenges and opportunities facing the Arctic, it was decided at the 2011 Ministerial meeting in Nuuk to establish a standing Arctic Council Secretariat. The Secretariat enhances the work of the Arctic Council through the establishment of administrative capacity and by providing continuity, institutional memory and operational efficiency.
The Arctic Council Secretariat is located in Tromsø, Norway. It was formally established in January 2013, when the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Espen Barth Eide, and the Director of the Secretariat, Mr. Magnus Johannesson, signed the Host Country Agreement. By signing the agreement, Norway formally agreed to host the Secretariat. The Secretariat became operational in the following February when its new director, Mr. Jóhannesson, started his work. It assumed its full responsibilities on 1 June when other members of staff started work and Canada had taken over the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Sweden.
The Secretariat provides administrative and organizational support, such as arranging and servicing meetings as required; transmitting reports to and from Arctic states, Permanent Participants and subsidiary bodies; assisting the Chair in drafting meeting documents including final reports; providing services to Permanent Participants and Working Groups without a secretariat; providing administrative services concerning general correspondence; and archiving of records.
Communication and outreach is also an important part of the Secretariat's duties. This means operating the Arctic Council website, including web pages of those Working Groups without a secretariat; facilitating and improving the quality and availability of information on the Arctic Council; recording, maintaining and posting, as appropriate, the records of the Arctic Council; facilitating the exchange of information among the Arctic states, Permanent Participants and Observers; and, at the request of Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants, developing strategic communication and outreach plans and other documents under the direct supervision of the SAO Chair, in support of the Arctic Council.
The Secretariat has seven employees in its office in the Fram Centre in Tromsø.
Magnús Jóhannesson is the Director of the Arctic Council Secretariat.
The Importance of Public and Private Sector Engagement in the Arctic
Steven R. Myers
It is significant that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has chosen the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq as Chair of the Arctic Council for Canada's two year term which began this May. The Harper government has a clear focus on the importance of the Arctic, and the U.S. should work closely with the Canadian Chair to support Canada's initiatives, and be ready to assume the Chair in 2015 with a cohesive approach to leadership in the Arctic Council.
Over the past four years, the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) has been engaging public and private sector stakeholders from Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories on a number of sustainable economic development issues through the PNWER Arctic Caucus. To ensure local people are included in the discussion about the Arctic, the Caucus established a coordinated approach of shared solutions to address common challenges. The Caucus has been a valuable tool for PNWER to bring sub-national concerns to national Arctic decision makers, especially in the U.S. PNWER also works to ensure the voice of the Arctic is heard across the rest of the region that includes the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, as well as Alaska, and the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The goal has been to develop action items for the region that will lead to specific solutions for common challenges.
Because the PNWER Arctic Caucus is a cross-border forum, the differences between the U.S. and Canada on Arctic policy are evident. Canada has a long established connection to the Arctic. The majority of Canadian people identify themselves as an Arctic Nation. The Canadian federal Arctic Strategy was developed in close coordination with people that live in the Arctic.
Conversely, the U.S. federal government has several agencies looking at Arctic issues but no one agency coordinating the federal strategy. Also, the majority of U.S. citizens do not identify the U.S. as an Arctic Nation. In comparison to other Arctic nations and even non-Arctic countries that want to do business in the region it has been noticeable in how little the U.S. invests federal dollars in the Arctic for search and rescue, icebreakers, and environmental protection. At a recent PNWER meeting, Alaska's U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke to the PNWER delegates and stated: "we in Alaska recognize that we [U.S.] are an Arctic nation, but it's tough to get that recognition from some of our colleagues in other states. The senators from Iowa don't necessarily think that they are in an Arctic nation, but they are by virtue of the state of Alaska."
The Senator went on to say, "the disconnect between the interest of the United States in investing in the Arctic compared to other nations was made all the more clear at a recent Arctic Council meeting in Sweden. While other nations with no Arctic coastline but plenty of interest jockeyed for a place as observers to the Council take action, the United States was only just putting forth a policy for future investment in the region."
The Canadian government has called for the development of a Circumpolar Business Forum, which has been initially identified as an entity that will be a conduit for businesses to engage the Arctic Council. This proposal by the Canadian government is a movement towards increasing the discussion about how to improve the lives of citizens in the Arctic through sustainable economic development, recognizing that the private sector needs to be at the table in some of the policy discussions.
As opportunities emerge for private sector engagement, the PNWER Arctic Caucus will continue to bring the state and territorial governments together with the private sector and Aboriginal communities to promote best practices for peoples of the North. The work of the Caucus will highlight the strong partnership between the respective regional governments and bring people together to communicate community interests and to influence policy.
The objectives of the Arctic Caucus are to:
• Increase the visibility and priority of Arctic issues in PNWER activities
• Build cross-jurisdictional support to achieve shared goals
• Identify areas of opportunity for mutual sustainable economic development in the Arctic
• Provide support to member jurisdictions to help them achieve their individual goals
Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories can be viewed as a network of communities with interests and priorities vital to the well-being of the people that live and work in the region. As the Arctic becomes more of a focus for development, collaboration is an essential component for those who live in the Arctic and everyone who does, or desires to do, business in the North. It is also important to ensure that any development in the North is done with the highest environmental practices and is supported by the people that live there. In some cases, research done in the North has not been shared with the residents who live there. The Caucus will encourage new research in collaboration with local inhabitants, and urge that the findings are shared within those communities. As conversations about the Arctic continue, the PNWER Arctic Caucus is a framework for lasting dialogue that develops a shared, cross-jurisdictional voice.
It is important to look at the Arctic as a place where people live and work, rather than only as a place for study and research. As the Canadian government leads the Arctic Council, PNWER will work with its jurisdictions to ensure the interests of the local people are presented. The PNWER Arctic Caucus will also continue to be a voice for the region's needs to our federal partners in both countries. As the U.S. federal government implements and develops a policy for the Arctic, it must formally engage people in Alaska and learn from the best practices that the Canadian federal government has implemented in close partnership with its northern territorial governments and their Aboriginal communities.
The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) is a public/private non-profit created by statute in 1991 by the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington, the Canadian provinces and territories of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. PNWER's mission is to increase the economic well-being and quality of life for all citizens of the region; coordinate provincial and state policies throughout the region; identify and promote "models of success"; and serve as a conduit to exchange information.
The PNWER Arctic Caucus Forum was initially formed as a group to focus on Arctic issues within PNWER. After meeting at the 2009 PNWER Economic Leadership Forum in Regina, Saskatchewan and the 2010 Annual Summit in Calgary, Alberta, the group decided to meet at the Annual Summit each year, as well as hold an annual Arctic Caucus Forum in the North. The first official Arctic Caucus Forum was held in December 2010 in Barrow, Alaska. The Caucus is made up of public and private sector PNWER members from Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and Yukon.
Since 2010 the Caucus has held meetings in Yellowknife, Whitehorse, and Anchorage, along with two meetings in Washington, D.C. with federal Arctic officials and congressional members.
Steven R. Myers is the Arctic Caucus Program Manager for the Pacific Northwest Economic Region.
Russian Strategy of the Development of the Arctic Zone and the Provision of National Security until 2020 (adopted by the President of the Russian Federation on February 8, 2013, № Pr-232)
1. To understand properly the context of the Russian document one needs to clarify the specificness of the Russian Arctic. Russian polar territories are really vast even in comparison with the other Arctic federations like US and Canada. Two third of the circumpolar wealth are created in the Russian Arctic (AHDR-1). Because of this fact the whole document is concerned with the internal problems of the Russian Arctic and much less with international affairs. This is characteristic for the strategies of all Arctic federations. The Russian difference is that this internally oriented document is preoccupied with how to answer the challenges which face the country and its Arctic zone because of the deep restructuring of its industrial economy.
The Russian Arctic has the thickest 'layer' of industrial activity; and the scale of industrial activity here is much more than that of the other polar states. Here we have the most urbanized Arctic community in the world, the maximum amount of monoprofile cities and settlements, and the most powerful resource sector of the Arctic economy in the world. Not surprisingly then, the imperative of innovative modernization is set throughout the whole text of the strategy. Large-scale industrial activity began in the Russian Arctic decades before the other polar countries and therefore one can distinguish old and young polar industrial territories.
2. If we compare the Russian Strategy with previous Russian Arctic documents of the last 20 years we can distinguish a clear breakthrough:
i) in new priorities regarding the innovative modernization of the Arctic economy, Arctic zone in all directions. What is important is that innovative and economic priorities are mentioned more often than defense priorities;
ii) in a new social agenda – first is development for the Arctic people, then for state interests. Social priorities of Arctic development are declared much more clearly than before;
iii) the topic of international cooperation has never been addressed in the Arctic federal documents in Russia in such a condensed and precise manner.
3. As we can see in all Arctic strategies of the polar states, Arctic federations understand their sovereignty fundamentally different from unitary states, and Russia is not the exception. Because of this, a special block of questions in the Russian strategy is related to property rights on the resources of the Arctic land and sea, that is Russia's sovereignty rights in the Arctic region. The document covers the issues of the delimitation of the space in the Arctic sea in the region of the Lomonosov Range; issues related to the Russian presence in the Svalbard archipelago; and on the utilization of the results of research in history, culture and economics prove that Russia does have historic rights of the concrete areas in the Arctic seas.
4. Russia was and is the world leader in issues of the polar navigation. Not surprisingly, this is one of the priorities of the Russian polar policy. The Russian strategy mentions infrastructural issues connected with the development of the Arctic transportation system very broadly understood as the national transportation artery, oriented on the all-season functioning and including the Northern Sea Route, meridian river and rail communications and airports network; development of the Arctic ports and new logistical complexes; and development of the coastal infrastructure in general not only for navigation but also for the fisheries. Arctic transportation system and infrastructural mega-projects should provide not only lateral integration of the Arctic territories, but also integration in a north-south direction with the developed regions of Russia.
5. Arctic business services are a new phenomenon in the Russian strategy. The document mentions Arctic business services as an entity embracing polar hydrographical provision; monitoring of the extraordinary natural and social events; industrial safety services to react rapidly to emergency situations in exploratory and exploitation drilling activities; marine seismic exploration, etcetera. Inside the Arctic Service Strategy is addressed knowledge-intensive marine service complexes with marine geology, satellite communications, mobile telephone networks, Internet wireless access and other elements.
6. In the period till 2020 the speed of development of the Arctic knowledge-intensive business services will be higher than in the rest of the sectors of the Arctic economy.
The theme of energy safety and energy efficiency is covered in the Russian Arctic Strategy in a very comprehensive way. In the document this topic is covered at the national level as sustainable development of the Russian energy complex (with the help of reserve funds in the Arctic deposits, diversification of the main routes of the Russian oil and gas delivery on the world markets and other measures); provision of energy independence for remote small settlements, including realization of the national and international projects in energy saving and efficiency; optimization of the provision of coal, oil and oil products in the remote regions; and development of local sources of energy and heat and differentiation of the scheme of delivery of energy sources.
7. New off-shore industrial regions in the Arctic shelf are mentioned in the document many times. To expedite the process of their formation, the document mentions how to stimulate resource corporations to work in the Arctic shelf, utilizing special taxation and other measures. It will be necessary to modernize northern marine sea route and Arctic ports, transportation infrastructure, to develop an icebreaker fleet and to train qualified personnel in the Arctic marine complex in areas such as navigation, marine geology, extraction and processing, and marine biotechnology.
8. The topic of environmental safety is covered in the document in several instances. These include the realization of projects to mitigate the environmental damages that arose from past industrial, military, and other activity. The elaboration and realization of measures to diminish environmental risks is also connected with the expansion of industrial activity including within the Arctic shelf. This includes the utilization of special datasets to control the situation and minimize pollution in the environment, and utilizing contemporary means of monitoring both land and space. It also seeks to address the consequences of global climate changes in the Russian Arctic zone, taking into consideration biodiversity of the Arctic flora and fauna, dangerous situations etc. It also describes the development and expansion of the network of the Arctic protected federal and regional natural reserves.
9. To fulfill the very ambitious goals of the Russian Arctic Strategy it is necessary to elaborate adequate mechanisms of its realization, aimed at increasing returns from state efforts and channeling resources to develop the Arctic. Therefore the theme of improvement in the whole system of state governance is very important for the document. Russia as an Arctic federation should make progress in the process of inter-agency coordination in the elaboration and realization of the measures of state Arctic policy. So it is time to think about how a central coordination body could be reestablished under the Russian Government that would be responsible for the elaboration of the federal Northern and Arctic policy (like Goskomsever of 1990-s).
Alexander Pelyasov is the Director of the Center for the Arctic and Northern Economies, Council for Research for Productive Forces, Moscow, Russia.
The North and the Arctic: Québec's Interests and Actions
Government of Québec
Anticipated changes in the Arctic environment due to climate change and global warming will affect all circumpolar regions. The impact of these changes, which could directly or indirectly affect the equilibrium of the entire planet, raise issues that are at the center of a global debate requiring the collaboration and cooperation of all actors, including subnational states. Québec, which partly lies in the Arctic and is very active on the international scene, wants to be part of this discussion. As such, it seeks to participate in international Arctic forums and strengthen its relations with other federated states and circumpolar regions that share Arctic challenges in its particular areas of jurisdiction. These are related to sustainable northern development, environmental protection and the development of northern communities.
Northern Québec and Its Development
Northern Québec is a vast region that encompasses part of the Arctic called Nunavik (meaning "place to live" in Inuktitut). Nunavik extends over 500 000 sq. km between the 55th and 62nd parallels. Although it makes up approximately 30% of Québec's land area, it only has about 12,000 inhabitants, 90% of whom are Inuit living in the 14 villages scattered along its coast. Nunavik is rich in mineral resources, including nickel, iron, rare earths, gold and diamonds. The region also has strong hydroelectric potential. Given the numerous national parks and protected areas in Northern Québec, the government would like to develop this territory responsibly in order to maximize the benefits for local communities and for Quebecers as a whole.
The impacts on local communities and biodiversity, and the challenges the North faces with respect to transportation, adaptation to climate change and civil security require that northern development be carried out in accordance with environmental best practices and in partnership with Aboriginal nations, northern communities, businesses, scientific experts and decision makers. It is with this in mind that the government specifically set up the Secrétariat au développement nordique (SDN; Northern Development Secretariat), whose mandate is to coordinate government actions with respect to the economic and social development of the North. SDN is also tasked with developing a responsible northern development policy based on innovative ideas that will maximize benefits for local communities as well as all Quebecers - hence the interest in sharing expertise with other Arctic stakeholders.
Support for Local Communities
Inuit communities will be the first to be impacted and affected by climate change. For example, changes in the distribution of certain animal species caused by modifications to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could result in major changes to hunting and fishing activities, which are a powerful force for social and cultural cohesion and ensure food security for many families in Nunavik. Given that their way of life is closely linked to the environment, the direct and indirect effects of climate change will have an impact on the health and security as well as on the economies and traditional activities of these communities.
The Québec government established channels of communication and consultation with northern communities years ago. Signed in 1975, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) has contributed greatly to the political and administrative autonomy of First Nations and Inuit by delegating certain responsibilities, including education and health, and giving them exclusive rights to hunt and fish on a large portion of the area. Under this agreement, it took action in Nunavik to ensure proper housing for local inhabitants. The already considerable challenges in this area will only increase with climate change. Investments in social housing and support for home ownership in Nunavik are among the solutions that have been put forward.
In light of the many difficulties facing the people of northern Québec, the Government of Québec also laid the groundwork for a new relationship with the Inuit in 2002 through the Partnership Agreement on Economic and Community Development in Nunavik, or Sanarrutik (meaning "development tool" in Inuktitut). This was followed in 2004 by the Sivunirmut Agreement (meaning "toward the future" in Inuktitut) to consolidate the relationship and seal a commitment to more adequate funding. These two agreements marked the start of a new era of partnership focused on creating wealth in Nunavik through a sustainable approach in harmony with Inuit culture.
A Government That Listens
Under the 2013–2020 Government Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation, the Government of Québec has put forth a number of measures for northern Québec. These include support for Aboriginal communities in adapting to climate change, an analysis of the risks and impacts of climate change for the mining industry, the strengthening of Nunavik's infrastructure management and maintenance practices, and the integration of new infrastructure design criteria, especially for infrastructure built on permafrost. To this end, the government has set up a large network of gauging stations, meteorological stations and cables to provide continuous data on the evolution of the climate and the permafrost. Transports Québec is also playing a part in this effort through Nunavik's Marine Infrastructures and Climate Change Research Project. This project is also looking at northern airport and road infrastructures.
The Government of Québec is interested in the Arctic because climate change, which will increasingly affect the region in decades to come, is likely to have a major impact on northern populations and their ecosystems. There is much thinking and effort going on right now to facilitate the adaptation of northern communities to their changing environment and find the best ways to capitalize - in an environmentally sustainable manner - on the new opportunities in the North and the Arctic. Through its international initiatives, the government is showcasing Québec's northern expertise and research capabilities and developing new partnerships and new channels of communication and dialogue with other Arctic regions. For Québec, it is essential that regional actors from all across the Arctic share their knowledge and work together to adapt successfully, while at the same time establishing a strong voice on the international Arctic stage.
China, Japan and the Arctic in 2013
In May 2013, after much discussion and speculation, six states were welcomed to become new Observers at the Arctic Council at the Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna. The six states include China, Japan, India, Italy, Singapore and South Korea. This commentary will focus on two of the most prominent new Asian Observer states: China and Japan.
China's interests in the Arctic have continued to attract much attention in 2013. The Chinese government announced that it will boost Arctic research, having acknowledged the role of scientific research for evaluating risks and opportunities in the Arctic. A few weeks after the AC Ministerial Meeting, the Polar Research Institute of China announced plans to establish a China-Nordic Arctic Research Center in Shanghai. The cooperation is based on the existing Icelandic-China cooperation on the Arctic, and will include several Nordic institutes such as the Iceland Center for Research, the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Copenhagen-based Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.
China's interest in the development of Greenland brought much media attention in 2012, when the Greenlandic government passed legislation to allow foreign workers into the country to earn salaries below the local legal minimum wage (Araújo & Cardenal, 2013). This was done in order to meet the request of the Chinese state-owned banks and companies to modify local regulations to allow low-wage Chinese workers to work in Greenland. The Chinese intention to invest in Greenland touched upon sensitive issues of the colonial past of Greenland and Denmark as well as the future direction of Greenland (Sejersen, 2013). The issue of Chinese investment in Greenland was perceived as so important that it became one of the central issues of the Greenlandic national parliamentary election in March 2013 (Scrutton, 2013).
The Siumut party, led by Aleqa Hammond, which has been critical of the Greenlandic government's willingness to accept the Chinese mining companies as well as their investment money, went on to win the election, suggesting that a significant number of Greenlanders are uncomfortable with the Chinese investment money or the conditionality it implied (Mcalister, 2013). Nonetheless, despite rather reluctant reactions from Greenland, the Chinese government appears to maintain its interest to invest in the region. For instance, in early July 2013, a Chinese investment delegation visited Nuuk, Greenland to seek business opportunities there. Approximately 20 representatives from the Chinese National Bank, the CDB, and two Chinese mining companies, formed the delegation (Bech-Bruun, 2013).
Meanwhile, Japan's approach to the Arctic has been more low-profile, yet active. On 19 March 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assigned a special ambassador in charge of Arctic Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2013). On 28 March, The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), a private Japanese policy think-tank focused on foreign affairs and security issues, released a report on Arctic Governance and Japan's Foreign Strategy. The institute has traditionally had a close relationship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acting as an external advisor. The report concludes with six policy recommendations for the Japanese government:
1. Construct a win-win relationship with Arctic coastal states regarding resource exploration and development;
2. Secure appropriate implementation of UNCLOS;
3. Build a closer cooperation with the United States on Arctic issues;
4. Play a leading role in environmental conservation, using Japan's knowledge and environmental technology;
5. More active Arctic diplomacy;
6. Strengthen the government system for Arctic policy, such as establishing an Arctic Headquarters within the Cabinet Office.
It remains to be seen whether the Japanese government will implement the recommendations in full, but both the commissioning and tone of the report clearly indicate that Japan has finally recognized the political importance of Arctic affairs. Following this, the Japanese Basic Plan on Ocean Policy was renewed in April. In contrast with the previous version effective until 2012, the new Plan mentioned the Arctic eighteen times, referring mostly to the natural environment and shipping routes in relation to the Arctic (Cabinet Office of Japan, 2013). The Japanese government also included the Arctic in the renewed bilateral science and technology cooperation agreements with Germany and Canada (Embassy China, Japan and the Arctic in 2013 of Japan in Canada, 2013). Idemitsu Petroleum Norge (IPN), a subsidiary of the Idemitsu group, one of Japan's largest energy corporations, has been in the Norwegian Continental Shelf since 1989 (Idemitsu). IPN has been involved in several projects in four oil extraction sites in the region and plans to extract from Knarr with having obtained a license from the Norwegian government (NHK, 2013). Oil production is expected to start in 2014 (Idemitsu).
Chinese and Japanese activities indicate the gradual process of consolidating their Arctic policies. China and Japan see the Arctic less as a strategically crucial point from the traditional security perspective, but more from the viewpoint of economic security and development. It can be said that this is a character of a foreign policy of the "developmental state," which is defined as the seamless web of political, bureaucratic, and moneyed influences that structures economic life in Northeast Asia ( Woo-Cumings, 1999 : 1 ), whereby the state derives its legitimacy from economic growth and seeks to adapt the national economy to changes in the global economy (Low, 2001). For the time being, China appears more than willing to invest more in the Arctic and is attempting to lead the direction of Arctic development. Japan is willing to build incrementally on the achievements it has made so far, maintaining its low-profile position as a non-Arctic state, while at the same time emphasising Japan's past extensive contributions to Arctic research, and Polar research more broadly.
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China, Japan and the Arctic in 2013
Aki Tonami is Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Arctic Opportunities: An Alaskan Perspective
For Arctic states across the globe, the accessible Arctic Ocean poses the opportunity of a lifetime.
Consider the following: the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and 30% of its undiscovered gas will be found in the Arctic, and six of the eight Arctic nations are already engaging in offshore energy exploration. Sea ice retreat has beckoned major new shipping in the North. This year, about 1.5 million tons of cargo will be transported through the Northern Sea Route, compared with nothing five years ago. Gas condensate, liquefied natural gas, and consumer goods are passing right past Alaska's front door to our traditional customers in Japan. In preparation for this huge opportunity in energy transit, Russia, China, Sweden, Finland, Canada, the European Union, Japan and Korea are beefing up their icebreaker fleets.
The Arctic's energy resources, minerals, tourism and shipping potential make this increasingly accessible region a classic emerging market. Billions of public and private dollars will be invested in its development. New infrastructure will increase our physical access to the Arctic, and commercial expansion will follow.
We are witnessing an exciting Arctic renaissance. Just as the International Polar Year 2007 -2009 revealed that the Arctic is not static but is constantly changing, Arctic borders are likewise on the move. Lingering border disputes, issues regarding new territory, and implementation of the Law of the Sea Treaty are among the sovereign challenges we're working to resolve in the region. Among Arctic neighbors, it's an ongoing balancing act between competition and cooperation.
I'm most excited about the cooperation. Through my participation in meetings of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, the Russian Geographical Society, the Northern Forum, the Northern Research Forum, the Arctic Council and its predecessor, the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, I've been privileged to see us build a real neighborhood at the top of the world.
The Arctic needs outside partners who share our vision of opportunity and respect for the people and wildlife that have always lived here. The best partners favor cooperation, transparency and respect as we engage in the rulemaking and resource development of our region, and they bring science and investment to the table. I'm especially proud of the Arctic Council's Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), which was a first-time collaborative effort among eight Arctic nations, gathered to discuss cooperation on safe shipping in their region. As a result, further cooperation is taking place among Arctic partners on multiple fronts to implement the recommendations of AMSA:
• A historic search and rescue agreement was signed at the 7th Annual Arctic Council Ministerial in Nuuk, Greenland in May 2011. The first implementation meeting was a Canadian-led search and rescue exercise that took place just several months following. Such exercises expose our deficiencies in equipment, mapping, ice forecasting, ports and other aids to navigation. They also foster cooperation among military and civil responders in the Arctic neighborhood.
• Arctic partners have advocated that the International Maritime Organization adopt a mandatory polar code to set minimum standards for ships operating in polar waters.
• The Arctic Council has negotiated an international agreement on Arctic marine oil pollution and response.
• Joint discussions on the development and upgrades of common Arctic security infrastructure, including deep-water ports, vessel tracking systems, Polar-class icebreakers, telecommunications and high-resolution mapping and ice imagery, are underway.
Let us hope that these developments lead to the kind of coordinated investment that is the hallmark of the St. Lawrence Seaway System, a model established between the U.S. and Canada for that shared waterway on our common border.
In addition to the international cooperation taking place, the State of Alaska is doing its part to contribute to Arctic infrastructure development and security. The state actively supports the marine safety, life safety, and pending Arctic marine and aviation infrastructure work of the Arctic Council. The state supports, and has offered funds, to help the U.S. Coast Guard's efforts to bring forward basing to Alaska's North Coast. It participates extensively in research fostered by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission at the University of Alaska. The Alaska legislature's Northern Waters Task Force made recommendations on mitigation strategies, infrastructure, regulatory and research needs in the Arctic. With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Alaska has conducted a feasibility study on the establishment of a deep-water port in Western Alaska. With the Marine Exchange of Alaska, the state also supports the Automatic Identification System receiver network which provides location data and advanced warning to emergency responders of all ships approaching state waters.
I am grateful to the Arctic Yearbook for highlighting the historic events in a changing Arctic, and I encourage your active engagement in these significant issues.
Mead Treadwell is the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, United States.
The Arctic from a European Policy Maker´s Perspective
The Arctic is undergoing a period of severe changes; rising temperatures and sea levels as a result of retreating snow and ice coverage are heavily impacting on both its delicate marine ecosystems and its human communities. By the same token, the region now attracts significant political and economic interest as melting ice also opens possibilities for the exploitation of natural resources and access to new trade routes. As a main result, an increasing number of states and non-state actors target the Arctic region in their foreign policy making.
At the same time and despite these current challenges and different interests, the Arctic has proven to be a region devoted to cooperation, coordination and peaceful interaction among different stakeholders, mostly thanks to the longstanding and crucial work of the Arctic Council.
By virtue of its geography and external effects of internal policies, the EU is a natural player in the Arctic, bearing responsibilities as one of the main contributors to pollution and green house emissions, having paticular interests in a sustainable development of the region, and having a longstanding tradition in cooperating with different Arctic stakeholders to archieve common goals. Given the changing strategic importance of the region and a necessity to protect and promote its own interests and values, the EU has declared a clear intention to be more engaged in Arctic affairs and to develop its own Arctic policy, which is currently undergoing a process of gradual formulation.
This process formally started in 2008 with the EP Resolution on Arctic Governance and the Commission Communication on "The European Union and the Arctic Region", and has been later welcomed by the Council in 2009. As a result of this first approach, the three EU institutions agreed to to develop a coherent and comprehensive action to Arctic issues to achieve the three main policy objectives defined as protecting the environment in accordance with its population, promoting a sustainable use of resources, and enhancing Arctic international cooperation.
In 2011 a pragmatic approach towards the Arctic was proposed by the EP, which adopted in plenary the report on a sustainable EU policy for the High North. This fresh and innovative contribution was facilitated by the establishment of the EU ARCTIC FORUM (EUAF) in 2010, with the aim to provide the EP and the political Brussels with a cross-party and cross-issue platform to introduce and discuss knowledge and experience of relevant Arctic players from Science, Politics, and not least also people and businesses with a focus on developing the basis for a common understanding of Arctic issues among political decision makers in Brussels.
For the first time, while keeping a focus on climate change mitigation and environmental protection, the EP was more ambitious on economic opportunities in the High North. The strategic importance of the Arctic for Europe's energy security and core industries with regard to certain raw materials was also a reason why a call for a deep-sea drilling moratorium was watered down twice in the plenary, despite the post-Deepwater Horizon syndrome.1 By striking a balance between various policy issues, the EP attempted to contribute to a holistic and strategic vision of EU Arctic policy. The recognition of the UNCLOS-based legal system alongside of political realities in the region brought the EP more in line with the Commission and member states' positions. Finally, the report requested that the Commission work on several tasks with regard to the European contribution to sustainable development, and in addition, outlined the prospects for a more determined EU Arctic approach calling for institutional mobilization within the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS).
On 26 June 2012 the European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued a long-awaited Communication on the EU and the Arctic region, a "second layer" of an Arctic policy for the EU, given that the other EU institutions have already expressed their positions. The new document follows the tone of the European Parliament resolution and highlights more receptive ideas of knowledge, responsibility and engagement as underlying principles of EU's approach. In addition, the joint Communication presents an elaborated synthesis of EU's contribution to the Arctic since 2008 varying from funding research, fighting climate change, supporting economic and cultural development of indigenous peoples, shipping, and maritime safety. For instance, over the last decade 200 million €UR were generated from European funds (within the EU Framework Programmes) for Arctic scientific research, a significant amount of funding was provided through various initiatives to indigenous groups and local populations, and the EU has already incorporated a 20% greenhouse gas reduction commitment into law. In addition, about half of the fish caught in polar waters is consumed in the European Union (EU), and one quarter of the oil and gas extracted from the Arctic flows to the EU and contributes to its energy security. Being the largest trading block, which controls 40% of world's commercial shipping,2 the EU also has a natural interest in securing non-discriminatory access to the strategically important Northern Sea Route (NSR) and the Northwest Passage (NWP).
With regard to international cooperation, the EU application for observer status to the Arctic Council was received positively at the last ministerial meeting held in Kiruna on May 2013, but has not yet been finally approved, so that the EU finds itself still in the "waiting room". However, one more European Member State, Italy, gained observer status to the Arctic Council, as a further proof of European interests toward the region. An observer status for the EU as a whole would have an added value for the Arctic Council, as many Arctic related policy competences (e.g. environment, research, fisheries) have been transferred to the EU level and cannot be fully exerted by member states.
Several Member states are involved in Arctic business through natural resources, oil and gas, mining, fisheries, the growing tourism sector, transport and navigation as well as technology suppliers and developers for those fields. For instance, last year British Petroleum tried to secure an access to the offshore oil field in the Russian Arctic through a share swap with the Russian oil giant Rosneft. The deal, however, was blocked in a London court and eventually collapsed. French Total is a shareholder of the Shtokman gas field, while Scottish Cairn Energy drills exploration wells off the Eastern coast of Greenland. On the other side of the globe, the Anglo-Dutch company Shell recently received permission for drilling in Alaska. It has already become a common practice that Finnish shipbuilding companies receive an order for an icebreaker construction from Russian authorities. Interestingly, Germany, apart from being an Arctic Council observer, is also a party to the Treaty of Spitzbergen of 1921 and maintains the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, together with other major polar and marine research institutes as one of the leading polar scientific institutions in the world.
Therefore, the EU intends to continue to play a positive role in the region in terms of cooperation and research funding and representing the common interest of the Union as a whole.
Hoping to soon be able soon to work more closely with the Arctic Council, while understanding that the EU needs to listen closely to its Arctic partners in order to gain a better understanding of the situation in the Arctic region, it is now time for the EU to practice a comprehensive and realistic approach to the Arctic, and pursue clear policies in the areas of climate change and the environment but also on resources and trade.
Since the EP is heading for another resolution on Arctic issues, I hereby invite the authors to this second Arctic Yearbook edition to participate and cooperate with their knowledge, and to make use of the EU ARCTIC FORUM to organize seminars and briefings, as an independent, non-profit platform & bridge builder for Arctic-focused actors in politics, science, civil society and business.
I am grateful to have been invited to be part of this publication as the EP Rapporteur on the Arctic, and would like to congratulate the authors for their excellent work done with the first edition of the Arctic Yearbook. I am certainly sure this second volume will be as interesting and equally capable to raise crucial issues in the geopolitics of the North. I welcome this second Arctic Yearbook, and look forward to reading with great interest all contributions.
1. European Parliament. Parliament calls for EU to plug gaps in oil exploration rules. Press release 7 October 2010; European Parliament. Offshore drilling: compulsory emergency plans for all operations. Press release 13 September 2011, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/
2. European Parliament. Report on a sustainable EU policy for the High North. Brussels, 16 December 2010.
Michael Gahler is a Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on the Arctic.
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