Strategic Assessment of Development of the Arctic: Assessment Conducted for the European Union” – The EU-Arctic Nexus and a More Balanced Picture of Arctic Developments for the European Audiences
Can Resource Development Be Good for Arctic Communities? The Resource and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA) Project
A Tribute to Anton Vasiliev & Senior Arctic Officials
Else Berit Eikeland
The Arctic Council is the only government-level, circumpolar body for political cooperation. In recent years the Council’s international influence and importance has grown considerably. The Arctic Council provides a forum for discussion between the Arctic states and representatives of indigenous peoples on issues of common interest. In this respect, the Arctic Council is unique. There are currently several international arenas in which issues related to the Arctic region are discussed. Only the Arctic Council, however, brings together all the Arctic states and representatives of the indigenous peoples.
The Arctic Council is unique in other areas too. Last year the magazine, «the Economist” had an article about the Arctic Council as an example of a successful circumpolar cooperation. The article was illustrated by a photo of the Senior Arctic Officials (SAOs – high level representatives from the eight Arctic states) hugging and laughing and holding the flags of the Arctic States at the North Pole. May be the world needs more Arctic Council ? – was the question raised in the article. The magazine noted that this seemed to be an international cooperation where officials liked each other and had fun. We all know that international or circumpolar cooperation does not depend on the likes or dislikes of officials, but it surely helps if there is good chemistry between representatives.
As a new Norwegian SAO in the Arctic Council two years ago, what really struck me was this combination between a formal decision making structure and the informal way the meeting was conducted, and the possibilities for the SAOs to reach consensus in a an informal way. The Russian SAO at that time, Anton Vasiliev, was my role model and mentor. He was very pragmatic and flexible, but clear when Russia could not support a position. Unlike many other international organisations a SAO who is consensus oriented is regarded as a strong in the Arctic Council. In all his years as Russian SAO, Anton contributed to strengthen the Council and raise awareness about the circumpolar cooperation. Thank you, Anton.
What more is special about the Arctic Council? So far, I have not experienced any clear divisions among SAOs based on the traditional political directions. Geography, location and whether the respective country has political and economic interests in the Arctic are the most important factors for the decision making process.
In addition to Anton, I want to thank two more great SAO Chairs who both have contributed to strengthening the Arctic Council, Gustaf Lind during the Swedish Chairmanship and Patrick Borbey during the Canadian Chairmanship.
The Olympic Flame Visits the North Pole
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay, which was carried by the Russian icebreaker “50 Years of the Victory”, reached the North Pole on the 19th of October 2013 at 2:37 pm. The Olympic flame was lit in the cauldron at the North Pole during the same day.
An international delegation of the Arctic states brought the Olympic flame to the North Pole as part of the Torch Relay for the XXII Olympic Winter Games and the XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014 in the City of Sochi. The delegation was led by Arthur Chilingarov, a famous Russian polar explorer and the Special Envoy of President Putin to the Arctic and the Antarctic. It consisted of members who represented scientific communities of the Arctic states, with many of them active in international scientific higher educational cooperation. Among other honorary torchbearers were Professor Elena Kudryashova, Rector of the Northern Arctic Federal University (NArFU), Russia; Dr. Christian Marcussen from Denmark; Dr. Jan-Gunnar Winther, Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute; and Professor Lassi Heininen from the University of Lapland, the chairman of the Northern Research Forum Steering Committee; as well as two Olympic medallists, Pat Pitney from USA and Steve Podborski from Canada. I was invited by the Northern (Arctic) Federal University, NArFU – “…from the list of people who are well-known for their contribution to the development and exploration of the Arctic region”, and the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Torch Relay to become a honorary torchbearer, and the representative of my country, of the Torch Relay to the North Pole (see my personal notes in that capacity: http://www.arcticinfo.eu/en/features/90-the-olympic-flame-visited-the-north-pole.
The Russian atomic icebreaker “50 Years of the Victory” has reached the North Pole (Organizing Committee of Sochi 2014)
Dr. Lassi Heininen receives the Olympic Flames (Photo:Organizing committee of Sochi 2014)
The Olympic Flame burns at the North Pole (Organizing committee of Sochi 2014) 21st of October 2013.
The voyage of the Olympic Torch Relay to the North Pole in October 2013 had a few highlights, and potential political impacts and findings as conclusions. Each of them gives a ground for further discussion and follow-ups, as well as speculations:
First, the October North Pole voyage was one of the four special legs of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay – the flame was also brought to outer space, to the top of a high Siberian mountain and to the bottom of the Lake of Baikal – and for the first time the Olympic flame was brought to the North Pole. In international media (e.g. The New York Times on the 19th of December 2013) the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay has raised speculations of misuses, that the Olympic flame has been relit, or emphasising the nationalistic character of the Russian President and government. Indeed, the Sochi Torch Relay is the largest in the history of Olympic Games with its 14,000 legs and thousands of torchbearers. Also the state territory of the Russian Federation is the largest one in the world. And, the Olympic Games are said to be a universal, and indeed global, festival for the people and nations. Based on my personal experiences I am able to state that the Torch Relay to the North Pole was done according to the spirit and rules of the Olympic Games, and there were neither misuses with the flame nor flags.
Arctic States’ flags at the North Pole (Organizing committee of Sochi 2014)
Second, the Torch Relay to the North Pole had a strong representation of the Arctic states. There was an honour torchbearer from each Arctic state with an equal mandate and her/his own flag. The Russian Olympic Committee could, however, have done this part of the Torch Relay nationally by having only Russian torchbearers, with the Russian flag, as was the case with other three special legs of the Torch Relay. Yet, Russians used the October 2013 voyage to the North Pole as an opportunity to showcase the international cooperation between, and common interests of, the eight Arctic states. This was manifested by the colourful flag show, or flag ‘planting’, on the (sea ice of the) North Pole as the grand finale of the Torch Relay. Indeed, with this strong representation of the international community the voyage was also a showcase of the importance of international Arctic cooperation.
Is there a lesson to be learned from the Russian expedition to the (bottom of the) North Pole in August 2007 to retrieve sample sediments, as well as to plant the Russian flag on the sea bottom? Thus, it would be wiser to re-manifest the domiautoce on, or even ‘ownership’ of, the North Pole by having an international delegation on board. Or, is this simply due to the fact that the current Arctic cooperation is both international and institutionalized, but in a new state due to globalization? Whatever the case, the acceptance of several major powers from Asia as observers of the Arctic Council has created a new geopolitical situation, as well as challenges, for the Arctic states, particularly the littoral states. Followed from this they consciously know that they share interests, would like to agree (as much as possible) on Arctic issues, management and goverautoce, and would like to show that there are common ‘house rules’ in the Arctic, as well as the Arctic Council, which newcomers should also respect. Here the Russian Federation is an important actor, and thus the October 2013 voyage to the North Pole can be interpreted to play an important role in the cooperation.
Third, the North Pole Torch Relay was even more: the strong representation of the international Arctic science community strongly shows, even manifests, the interplay between science, (higher) education and sports. This was supported by the series of lectures on the Arctic covering several fields, such as international maritime law, climate change, geopolitics, oceanography by the torchbearers (as a human interest, I was honoured to be the first political scientist having a lecture on geopolitics at the North Pole). This has not been the case earlier with Olympic torch relays. It is more a post-modern than traditional or national approach which reminds me about the niche of the Northern Research Forum and the main design of its Open Assemblies. This is the direction where international, multilateral cooperation in the globalized Arctic is going, or should go, into.
Fourth, this was the first time that the North Pole has been reached in darkness during the long Polar Night, and it is said to be done in a record time. This fact was shared with us in the beginning of the voyage. It was repeated in the end of the voyage by emphasizing the importance of being able to reach the North Pole in darkness. Russia is technically able, unlike any other Arctic state, to navigate in the Arctic Ocean, and now in darkness, and has a rich tradition in that. Behind that are strong Russian national (economic) interests to increase the mass-scale utilization of natural resources in the Russian Arctic Zone and beyond, as well as to promote the infrastructure there. This interest was already clearly indicated by the 2008 Russian state policy and strengthened by the 2013 state policy on the Arctic. This is shown, even manifested, by the just started commercial off-shore oil drilling at the Prirazlomnaya oil field on the continental shelf of the Pechora Sea, south of Novaya Zemlja. I had a chance to visit, together with Russian experts and authorities and a few other foreign academics, on the Prirazlomnaya Off-Shore Oil Platform and the Varandey Oil Export Terminal in August 2014 as a part of the program of the IV International Meeting of High-Level Representatives of the Arctic Council Member States, organized by the Russian Federation Security Board, in Naryan-Mar, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia.
In this context, the voyage to the North Pole can be taken as a manifestation of Russia’s technical capability to be present in, and utilize (off-shore) resources of, the Arctic Ocean area, which makes the Russian position even stronger. It is, however, good to remember that other Arctic states have also prioritized their national interests and have put economic interests on the top of them, as it was discussed in the 2012 Arctic Yearbook. Thus, despite the previous commitments to environmental protection and sustainable development by the Arctic states, and the first legally binding agreement under the auspices of the Arctic Council on cooperation in Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue, which requires better readiness and safer navigation in the Arctic Ocean, (geo)economics and economic interests seem to have taken over (geo)politics and science, as well as environmental protection.
Finally, the voyage showed, and its record speed manifested, the fact that the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean is melting and becoming thinner. If the sea ice is going to melt this fast, there might be no solid multi-year sea ice in near future for activities in a summer time. Then we, the people, and humankind have lost something very special, a part of the beauty of nature. From this point of view the Olympic Torch Relay voyage to the North Pole with its nice pictures and videos can be seen either as a picturesque and extreme excursion; or as an experimental endeavour with international participation and in a new global context; or an ultimate presentation on behalf of the snowy and icy marine Arctic ecosystem.
Sailing to the North Pole (Photo: Organizing committee of Sochi 2014)
Sea Ice, October 2013 (Photo: Organizing Committee of Sochi 2014)
Dr. Lassi Heininen carrying a copy of the Arctic Yearbook 2013 at the North Pole, October 2013.
Asian-Arctic Cooperation: A Briefing on the China-Nordic Arctic Research Center (CNARC)
Deng Beixi & Yang Jian
In May 2013, China, together with five other states, was granted observer status in the Arctic Council. By December that year, with joint efforts by Nordic and Chinese research institutes, the China-Nordic Arctic Research Center (CANRC) was established and has evolves from a nascent and immature conception to now a reality and functioning entity that is to eventually develop into a full-fledged platform for academic exchanges between China and Nordic countries. The initiative and development of CNARC has aroused attention from other Arctic and non-Arctic states, marking a highlight of international cooperation on Arctic issues.
Committed to increasing an in-depth and comprehensive awareness, understanding and knowledge of the Arctic and its global impacts and to promoting cooperation for sustainable development of Nordic Arctic and coherent development of China in a global context, CNARC is currently composed of 11 member institutes, 6 from Nordic states and 5 from China, all leading think-tanks and institutes in Arctic studies in their respective country and endowed with capacities to influence, coordinate and initiate Arctic research in their professional fields. CNARC is structured with an Assembly of Member Institutes, a Director and a Secretariat. The Assembly, formed by representatives from each member institute, convenes annually and operates by consensus. The Director and Secretariat are currently hosted at the Polar Research Institute of China, responsible for the routine operations of CNARC and carrying out advice for development from the Assembly.
CNARC facilitates China-Nordic cooperation in the following forms: 1) carrying out joint research projects in accordance with research themes in respect of Arctic climate change, Arctic resources, shipping and economy, as well as Arctic policy-making and legislation; 2) developing Arctic research networks and frontiers by providing opportunities for Chinese and Nordic scholars to conduct Arctic research through fellowship programs; 3) convening regularly the China-Nordic Arctic Cooperation Symposium and other workshops; 4) facilitating information sharing and cultural exchanges between China and Nordic countries in Arctic context.
As we may say, the Arctic is a region unique and vulnerable to global climate change and increasing human activities; the trans-regional nature of some Arctic issues, especially in terms of addressing climate change and exploiting shipping routes, requires joint endeavors and broader engagement of both Arctic and Non-arctic states. The Nordic Arctic, as an emerging Arctic geopolitical player, is also home to innovative theories on global governance and sophisticated technologies in ship-building, fishery, eco-energy and offshore oil engineering, leads globally in scientific research and social science studies with regard to the Arctic. China on the other hand, despite a relatively late start and lack of knowledge in the field of Arctic research, possesses advantages in capitals, markets and labor forces, which together lay the foundation for the future China-Nordic cooperation.
Given those circumstance, there is a need for a platform of academic cooperation between China and Nordic countries such as CNARC with the purpose of “building the bridge” and “filling in gaps of knowledge” so that the two parties would have an enhanced understanding of each other. From China’s perspectives, the establishment of CNARC will be helpful to China to understand major issues with regards to the Arctic governance, to figure out main concerns of the Arctic states, to make up for lack in knowledge, as well as to attempt to construct an innovative cooperative model between Arctic and non-Arctic states.
Smooth and fruitful progress has been achieved in the past few months. On one hand, the establishment of CNARC has accelerated and intensified frequent exchanges between China and Nordic countries, as well as among member institutes. For example, the international symposium “Asian Countries and the Arctic Future” held in Shanghai in April 2014, jointly organized by Shanghai Institutes of International Studies and Fridtjof Nansen Institute with the support of CNARC, addressed the topics of Arctic governance and the engagement of Asian stakeholders in the Arctic trans-regional cooperation. Representatives from Japan, Korea, India and Singapore were invited to join the debate.
On the other hand, concrete activities are underway. In early June this year, the 2nd China-Nordic Arctic Cooperation Symposium took place in Akureyri, Iceland, gathering nearly 50 scholars and researchers from China and Nordic countries, along with government officials and business representatives, to address the topics of Arctic policies and governance, economy and maritime cooperation. With deliberate elaboration, CNARC launched its first fellowship program in May and upon prudent selection, two Nordic and two Chinese fellow candidates were granted the fellowship to advance their own research project that falls on CNARC’s research priorities for a one-month period in an institute within CNARC’s network.
There might be concerns over the openness and inclusiveness of the CNARC’s cooperative framework. In fact this framework is bound to be inclusive and comprehensive, as the experiences of China-Nordic Arctic cooperation will inevitably make a model for cooperation between China and other Arctic states. In the future, CNARC will serve as a platform for various actors in addition to China and Nordic states to promote international cooperation on Arctic governance.
Barents Cooperation in Winds of Change
The head of the Barents Regional Council, Arkhangelsk Governor Igor Orlov, told his Oblast government in September 2014 that complicated geopolitics should not affect Barents Cooperation. This cooperation is beyond big politics, Orlov argued.
Traveling the Barents Region after Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea Peninsula in March, and meeting the different official players, the organizations and people in the Russian north, it is easy to see that the Arkhangelsk Governor has a good argument. More than 20 years of people-to-people relations across borders can’t be torn down overnight. Despite a way colder political climate between the trio of Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo towards Kremlin’s rule of Putin in Moscow, the contacts between regional capitals like Murmansk, Rovaniemi, Tromsø and Luleå goes on. So do the non-governmental networks.
In Europe, Brussels has encouraged regional cross-border (CBC) programs not to be affected by sanctions. In Norway, the Government says the importance of regional and civil society interactions with Russia in the north will continue to be supported. The Barents cooperation serves as an open door in times of challenging geopolitical troubles. Normal peoples’ travel and contacts will never cause any harm; rather it serves to facilitate dialogue and minimize potential misunderstandings between countries.
Established in 1993, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) was built in a Post-Soviet period full of confidence with a common belief that promoting people-to-people contacts would contribute to economic, cultural, social and peaceful development in the northernmost part of Europe. Today, no doubt, the Barents cooperation itself has proven to be one of the most successful cross-border cooperation areas in any Russian border region. A generation of friendly relations between citizens, organizations and institutions on both sides of the former iron-curtain has been created. Hundreds of thousands of people annually cross over the formerly nearly closed borders between the Murmansk region and neighbouring Finnmark and Lapland. Working groups in areas like infrastructure, education, ecology, indigenous peoples and culture build bridges and official channels. The Norwegian Barents Secretariat has provided grants to several thousand cross-border interlinked projects based on equal participation. Trust, will and transparency are the three keywords making this possible.
Russia’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, told the audience at the Barents Summit in Kirkenes in June 2013 that Moscow sees the Arctic as an area with good opportunities to implement joint programs and initiatives. However, he also underlined a geopolitical phrase increasingly voiced by the Kremlin; any expansion of NATO to include Sweden and Finland would upset the balance of power and force Russia to respond.
Increased global attention towards potential Arctic resources is too often followed by media headlines speculating great potential for conflicts because the top of the world is incorrectly believed to be an ungoverned region where oil and gas is waiting to be picked up by the one who gets there first. Regional fora like the Barents Euro-Arctic Council or circumpolar fora like the Arctic Council do not provide a platform for hard security policy discussions, but are superb arenas for building soft-security relations. However you see the world, from east or west, such soft-security corridors and doors should never be closed.
It was therefore sad to see how Dmitri Medvedev used the stage at the Barents Summit to warn Sweden and Finland against NATO.
Russia’s first Post-Soviet Foreign Minister, Andrey Kozyrev, said when he signed the Kirkenes-declaration in 1993 that the Barents cooperation is a structure that could become a window for Russia towards Europe, aimed at establishing close links with northern Europe and the rest of the continent. Kozyrev’s statement is in rather sharp contrast to the wording of Russia’s 2014 Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, who fuels arguments such as that Europe is aiming to undermine Russia as a global partner.
By talking down cooperation with Europe, the troika of Putin, Lavrov and Medvedev are sawing off the main pillar in regional Barents cooperation: people-to-people initiatives growing up from trust, will and transparency.
During 2014, Russia has seen a massive state crackdown on NGOs cooperating with foreigners. A Moscow systematically talking up mistrust against the West does not exactly boost the interest among people in Barents Russia to establish cross-border partnerships. Limiting media freedom and turning journalism into propagandism builds bad stereotypes and is only helping those who are afraid the truth could come out. Erecting a new, partly double wire fence towards the border with Norway, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is normally not what friendly neighbours do to each other. And last, but not least, Russia’s re-arming of the Kola Peninsula and the Arctic raises the question about Moscow’s intentions in basing so much military hardware in a region of low tension?
Fortunately, the Barents cooperation is still standing upright in winds of change.
Entering Icy Waters: The Arctic Agenda at a Crossroads
H.E. Thordur Aegir Oskarsson
The considerably successful work of the Arctic Council since its launch in 1996 has increasingly been characterized by the pragmatic cooperation among the eight Arctic state members in various fields.
The Arctic Council has enjoyed a solid political tailwind for almost two decades, resulting in a robust institution that has moved away from being exclusively a policy shaping body into the territory of pragmatic policy making reflected in two Arctic-wide agreements on search and rescue and prevention of oil spills.
However, currently the Council is facing increasing challenges, not only rising from its agenda, but more acutely from challenges stemming from events external to the Arctic region. Juha Käpylä and Harri Mikkola, in a previously published briefing paper, have argued that “should an interstate conflict surface in the Arctic, the source is most likely to be related to a complex global dynamics that may spill over to the region and which cannot be addressed with existing Arctic governance mechanisms.” The crisis in the Ukraine is a testament to this argument. Last September the United States and the European Union introduced economic sanctions against Russia that directly affect offshore hydrocarbon resource development in the Arctic. These sanctions are not high on the political and economic risk scale, but they confirm that the Arctic region is not absolutely immune from external events.
Apart from external effects on Arctic cooperation, it is irresponsible to disregard the possibility of emerging tensions arising among the member states of the Arctic Council on Arctic specific issues. History teaches us that the scale of foreseen Arctic commercialization and resource development will likely create security challenges that the present arrangements for Arctic governance will not be able to handle. Adding to this is the accelerating climate change and its many unknown consequence that will make the future challenges even more complicated.
Indeed, there are already signs of fragmentation surfacing in the region. The five Arctic “coastal” states have carved out the fisheries in the Arctic as an exclusive subject matter for them to discuss. This seems to contravene the cooperative spirit of the Arctic Council and undermine its role and legitimacy. Iceland has been working on securing its place as a partner in such arrangements due to its location in the High North to no avail.
All Arctic Council members have strong national interests in the development of the region related to territorial claims and ultimately, resource exploitation. There are of course international mechanisms in place that can aid the Arctic Council members in tackling these challenges and possible disputes such as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for solving outstanding territorial claims.
There is however one missing piece in the whole cooperative puzzle of the High North, and that is the traditional security dimension, which is not part of the Arctic Council agenda. All the participating states have strong security and safety interests when it comes to this expansive region. Efforts have been made to define the traditional security dimension or “hard security” as irrelevant to the general Arctic dialogue while emphasizing the importance of the security dimension of other Arctic issues, such as environment, shipping etc.1 The fact is that there is a lot of residual and active military power in the Arctic that has a role to play in the traditional sense and also very possibly when it comes to threats affecting other issue areas of the Arctic agenda, be it the environment, resource development, shipping, tourism or human security.
This is reflected in various ways in the domestic security policies of the Arctic states. The Foreign Minister of Iceland, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, has emphasized the importance of ensuring Iceland's broad security interests in the Arctic and has defined security issues as one of the main challenges for Iceland’s Arctic policy. Sveinsson has further stated that the increased international importance of the Arctic region has firmly linked it with security development in other parts of the world. Iceland, a NATO member, has for a long time emphasized the necessity of “situational awareness” in the High North as an important aspect of NATO’s role as security provider.
To introduce the issue of “hard” security dialogue in the Arctic Council is premature, but that does not mean that this important topic should or can be disregarded. The academic literature on the Arctic is awash with discussion on the Arctic military security. The military of the Arctic states has already taken the issue on in regular meetings of the top military leaders of the eight Arctic Council states, the Northern Chiefs of Defense Forum, and in meetings of the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable, a more obscure military group of 11-12 states whose role is to discuss the future of security operations in the Arctic. In the past Russia has been attending these 2 forums.
Those who handle policy- and decision-making in the field of traditional security have been conspicuously absent from any discussion on military security. It is an absolute necessity to prevent military and academic representatives to “monopolize” traditional security discussions about the High North. It is high time that military security needs and concerns are addressed as an integral and legitimate part of the Arctic agenda.
There are different means to reach this objective, and under present conditions an ad hoc method is preferable to an attempt to put it directly on the Arctic Council agenda. The establishment of an informal forum of the senior officials from those ministries that handle security policy in the Arctic Council member states could be an important first step.
In the spirit of Arctic cooperation and trust, the first task of such a senior officials forum should be the comprehensive examination of security military issues above the Arctic Circle. A first substantive step might be to evaluate the feasibility of introducing politically binding confidence and security-building mechanisms (CSBMs) into the region. All the Arctic states are also members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and as such are committed to sophisticated CSBMs measures that even cover their Arctic areas. Arctic specific measures should be contemplated for the broad and very unique Arctic security environment.
These are not new ideas but the need to introduce this security dialogue into the Arctic agenda has gained urgency with rapid international and regional geopolitical change. Last but not least it is arguable that the smaller Arctic partners have most to gain from stronger institutional capacity and expanded political agenda for the Arctic, so the initiative should perhaps be theirs.
1. David A. Welch. (2013, December). The Arctic and Geopolitics. CIGI paper. 6.
Regional International Cooperation in the Arctic & Subarctic Zone: A View from Karelia
The Republic of Karelia is a cross-border region of the Russian Federation, which has an approximately 800 kilometer long border with a European Union country – Finland. A cross-border location has had a great impact on the development of international cooperation in the Republic of Karelia since the Soviet period, where in the mid-1960s, twin-city relations appeared. Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, twin-city relations transformed into active contacts among authorities, governmental and non-governmental organizations. The first interregional agreement was signed in 1989 with Vermont State in the USA.
Interstate economic cooperation with neighboring Finland was already reflected in the 1980s in such projects as the construction of the Kostomuksha Mining and Concentrating Complex and Kostomuksha town itself, as well as in the establishment of a wood processing complex in Pyaozerski village in the northern part of the Republic. Later, at the end of the 1990s and at the turn of the 21st century, together with Finnish partners, quite a number of joint projects were implemented. The projects were aimed at the establishment of modern manufacturing in the field of in-car electronics; border inspection posts were established alongside with visit-centers in national parks of the Republic; treatment plants were reconstructed; regular bus service was launched, and more. The interstate agreement on cooperation between Russia and Finland, concluded in 1992, had a significant influence on the character of regional cooperation betweenthe two countries. Finland’s accession to the European Union in 1995 gave the Republic of Karelia an opportunity to participate in such EU programs as TASIS, INTERREG, European Neighborhood Policy programs, and others. Scientific and technological cooperation as well as humanitarian ties being implemented through research, educational, non-commercial and public organizations have always been crucial for international integration of the Republic of Karelia.
Among the regions of the European Arctic and subarctic zone, the main partners of Karelia are: the Norwegian county of Tromsø; the Swedish county of Västerbotten; and several Finnish unions of communes that concluded a range of cooperation agreements with the Republic. Bilateral forms of cooperation are well-balanced with multilateral ones like, for example, under the framework of the Barents Euro-Arctic region (BEAR), where the Republic has actively participated since its establishment in 1993. The unique nature of the Barents cooperation is justified by cooperation between central and regional levels. Karelia as well as other regions of BEAR seeks to get a maximum benefit from combining bilateral cooperation with participation in multilateral structures of BEAR adjusting its actions, if necessary and useful, with national governments.
The Republic of Karelia is not an Arctic region in its pure form. However, Karelia has specific characteristics which are inherent in most of the Arctic regions: severe climate, vulnerable environment, inaccessibility of the territory and underdeveloped transport infrastructure, low density of population, high operating costs and expenses on infrastructure. But at the same time there are new emerging opportunities due to the Arctic and growth of its role in everyday life of humanity. For instance, a high transport potential of the region: the region can function as a transit corridor to different dimension including the Arctic. At the moment the following projects are at the stage of preparation to implementation: a project to connect the Northern Sea Route to inner waters of Russia through Karelia; a project on development of land transport corridors between Ural and Europe; latitudinal transport-logistic projects and more.
Proceeding from this, institutional support of program and project activities under the framework of such structures as BEAR is extremely important for Karelia. A good example of this process is a harmonized combination of the established structures and forms of cooperation with the tools providing their functioning that was achieved within Euroregion Karelia. Euroregion Karelia was established in 2000 as an international platform aimed at improvement of cross-border ties and living standards of population. These ideas are implemented by means of the cross-border cooperation program ENPI ‘Karelia’. For the BEAR it would be useful to have its own source of financing as adjustment of the position of the regions is coming through their participation in the Barents Regional Council and profile working groups. That is why Russia, which will preside over in the Council of the BEAR for the next two years, promotes a necessity of establishment of financing tools for BEAR projects as one of its priorities. Precisely in this way the designed BEAR agenda will be able to get suitable financial support and fulfill plenty of useful and mutually beneficial initiatives with specific content.
Cooperation in the North requires also synergy of programs and projects. For example, cooperation under the framework of the BEAR can be supported by the instruments of Northern Dimension, programs of the EU, initiatives of the Nordic Council of Ministers and others. It is impossible to underestimate the experience of Karelia on this issue. For instance, JSC ‘Russian Communal Services’, The government of the Republic of Karelia, Petrozavodsk city administration, the Finnish Ministry of Environment, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), Nordic Investment Bank and Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund have joined their efforts for the implementation of the project on reconstruction of the water treatment plant in Petrozavodsk. This project will be launched quite soon. And one more hotspot, which was elaborated under the framework of environmental dimension of Barents cooperation in the 1990s, will disappear from the map of BEAR. We witness that the stronger institutions of cooperation are, the more topical and practically oriented the agenda of different cooperation forms is, more effective implementation of the project is and more sustainable the results are.
In the North, quality and development of human capital is a matter of high concern. That is why most of the programs and projects of cooperation among Northern regions have humanitarian nature. The results of work under the framework of the BEAR, Northern dimension, the EU programs are self-explanatory. We can give thousands of examples of successful cooperation in the field of ecology, culture, education, social support, public health service. Complex and cross-disciplinary approach for the implementation of these projects is especially important. Many programs have horizontal priorities in the form of youth support or support of indigenous people of the North, secure continuity at different stages of their implementation; involve a wide range of various representatives of civil society.
Evaluating the perspectives of further development of Barents cooperation, cross-border cooperation through the EU-Russia programs and other forms of cooperation in the Arctic and subarctic zones of Europe, it is important to mention that these models can gain momentum in other regions, for example in Canada. It is clear that direct copying is not acceptable. However, the strong sides of gained experience on international cooperation, for instance in Karelia, are its flexibility and backstop on different structures and forms of cooperation, effective search of instruments for their financing, combination of national and regional levels of cooperation and the most important – openness to the world and next-door neighbors.
In the current unstable political situation in international relations, the results of longstanding work made by thousands and thousands of people are being sacrificed in favor of temporary political interests. But as history has shown, cross-border cooperation is a stabilizing factor: it brings us hope for the future.
As the Governor of Arkhangelsk region, Igor Orlov – who currently chairs the Barents Regional Council – said to his regional government on Tuesday September 10, 2014, developing the good interaction between people in the Barents Region is beyond big politics. “Our chairmanship of the Regional Council comes in a rather complicated geopolitical period, but that should not in any case affect our cooperation in solving common problems,” said Igor Orlov, according to a press-release from the Arkhangelsk government.
Hence, we can conclude that Russian regions/members of the BEAR share the common opinion and believe that it is impossible to ignore the results of humanitarian and economic cooperation achieved by states, their regions and citizens over the last years in the North. It is unreasonable to deny the gained experience and it is inadmissible to defeat hopes of people, associating the future with the North. Today while the importance of the Arctic for humanity is increasing, it is necessary to develop and apply the most successful models of regional international cooperation in different parts of the Arctic. This strategy will promote their prosperity and decrease their dependency on political turbulences. The Republic of Karelia is already leading the way, and will reinforce cooperation in the future with regional and circumpolar partners.
Source: The Official Karelia. The Republic of Karelia State Government Bodies’ Official Web Portal. http://gov.karelia.ru/gov/map_e.html.
The West Nordic Council and the Arctic
Unnur Bra Konradsdóttir & Egill Thor Nielsson
The global Arctic has arrived. At the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Sweden last year it was decided to welcome new observer states, so from now on China, India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, together with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, are in concert with the United States, Russia and other Arctic countries in a constructive dialogue on the future of the Arctic.
The Arctic has, in economic and political terms, truly become a new frontier. Its development will increasingly have implications internationally with regard to globalization, economic progress, environmental protection, energy exploration and international security. This year alone, the historic transformation of the Arctic is discussed at conferences focused exclusively on Arctic affairs in locations as diverse as Prince George, Washington D.C., Reykjavík, Brussels, Murmansk, Shanghai and Seoul.
The Arctic is a huge region, covering more than 1/6 of the Earth’s landmass and estimated to hold about 1/5 of the planet’s remaining natural resources. Its inhabitants form an important Arctic identity. However, it embraces many separate areas with their own set of local priorities and issues. One such Arctic unity is the West Nordic region, consisting of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which has, at times, been somewhat overlooked by Arctic observers.
The West Nordic region is considerably significant in Arctic terms. Due to Greenland’s vastness, it covers over 20% of the Arctic’s landmass and is home to 10% of the over four million Arctic inhabitants. The three nations all have well-educated and young workforces, as well as being rich in both offshore and onshore resources. Many of the economic opportunities in the West Nordic Arctic are based on tangible value-creation drawing on raw materials and expertise in industries of global relevance. Potential exists for the further expansion of sectors such as energy, mining, tourism, R&D, transportation, infrastructure, services and seafood.
Resource utilization and future societal development in the West Nordic Arctic comply with the Arctic House Rules (a term coined by H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland), which provide for open dialogue, scientific knowledge and indigenous peoples’ participation in the development of Arctic affairs.
Regional cooperation between the three West Nordic countries has strong roots. They are each other’s closest neighbors and share many fundamentally similar historical and cultural bonds and natural and economic conditions. In the face of harsh living conditions in small and isolated communities that are highly dependent on their natural surroundings and maritime resources, they have, thanks to the resilience of their inhabitants, built modern societies with high living standards.
The West Nordic Council was established in 1985. It is among the oldest pan-Arctic multilateral cooperation mechanisms, spanning three decades of parliamentary cooperation between the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. Arctic affairs have risen to the very top of the West Nordic Council’s agenda and in recent years the Council has focused on important regional issues such as search and rescue, welfare, health, gender, youth, infrastructure, transportation, hunting, tourism and natural resources, including seafood and energy. Increasingly these core issues for the West Nordic area have been coupled with a more outward-oriented vision with regards to the geostrategic importance of the West Nordic Arctic and the vast natural resources of the region.
During the last few years, concrete measures have been taken to further the West Nordic Council’s Arctic agenda. These include a recommendation to the national governments to strengthen their co-operation on Arctic issues and to design a common West Nordic Strategy for the Arctic. Next year’s annual theme for the Conference of the Council will be devoted to this topic. A report on Arctic economic cooperation between the three countries has also been produced and the West Nordic Council recently urged the three governments to conclude a West Nordic free trade agreement, thus creating a common economic area to strengthen the regional economy and its export capabilities to global markets.
An Arctic push is taking place and it is up to the people in the West Nordic Arctic to decide what we want to do with the vast opportunities in our own area and respond to the prospect of the region’s increasing importance in an evolving world order. As the Arctic Council continues to define its own role and welcomes new partners in the Arctic region, it is of the highest importance that new and old global Arctic players respect the existing Arctic House Rules and that both opportunities and challenges are met in a cooperative and constructive manner.
The West Nordic Council has contributed to this process and will continue to do so. This includes welcoming outside partners to the region, while honoring the principle of prudent development of Arctic resources on which the livelihood of the communities depends.
Making it Stick – A New Approach to Implementing Arctic Council Decisions & Recommendations
Marc-André Dubois & Clive Tesar
Over the past 5 years, the Arctic Council has done a commendable job of increasingly developing implementation plans and follow-up mechanisms for its recommendations and decisions. This has been an incremental process. Landmark reports such as the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) fell a little flat because, despite thorough research and scholarship, the recommendations that flowed from such assessments went largely undone and unremarked. By 2009 the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment was implemented through the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) plan that has been monitored, with implementation reports in 2011 and 2013.
The flaw in implementation of recommendations flowing from Arctic Council reports is that the only entities that truly take on the recommendations from Arctic Council working groups are…Arctic Council working groups. What these working groups can do is limited. They can develop further research, they can convene symposiums, and they can make recommendations. They cannot compel the activities that would make the biggest difference: implementation at a national and international level. We are not suggesting that should change. The Arctic Council is unlikely to ever have the authority to compel member states to undertake activities on a national level. However, as the recommendations are decided by a process of negotiation by those member states together with permanent participants, we believe it is not too much to ask that those same states decide how they will implement recommendations, and account for the implementation of the recommendations.
Such an initiative could be led by the incoming chair. The U.S. has already signaled that a focal area of its chairmanship will be strengthening the Council as an institution. What could strengthen it more than giving real national expression to the recommendations arrived at by the Council, and accepted by ministers? Arctic Council assessments and the related policy recommendations are financed by public money, and governments should start using them to implement their own work and provide results and benefits for their citizens. Ultimately, accelerating action for conservation achievements will lead to true delivery on the mandate of the Arctic Council.
WWF recommends that the United States lead a process to ensure that recommendations flowing from agreed recommendations are implemented at a national (and where necessary, international) level, and that the level of implementation is monitored by each state, and reported back to the Council every two years. Such a process would include the development of implementation plans for all policy recommendations outlining specific methodologies, processes, timelines, milestones and approaches for implementation of the many working group recommendations. Member states and working groups should agree to present, around each Ministerial meeting, rigorous implementation progress reports, which should be based on a similar agreed-upon format.
The implementation of the recent recommendations of the CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna working group) Arctic Biodiversity Assessment could be a litmus test for integrating national implementation with Arctic Council-specific implementation. The coming Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim is an opportunity for states to foreshadow a commitment to follow up with national implementation plans, which could be cemented by the Iqaluit Ministerial meeting in April 2015. This should include not just commitments to research, but putting into action some of the already well-researched recommendations of the ABA – such as advancing the protection of large areas of ecologically important marine, terrestrial and freshwater habitats, taking into account resilience in a changing climate. This could be done through outlining the national components of a plan to complete a network of Arctic conservation management areas, then working collectively to ensure the necessary connectivity.
Declarations and voluntary adoption of policies by countries alone are not enough and Arctic Ministers and leaders need to follow through with new domestic laws and regulations as good intentions will not be enough to translate words into deeds.
The creation of an Arctic Council process for ensuring Arctic Council-specific actions are coupled with bold and concrete national actions to bolster implementation will provide Arctic governments with a more complete response to Arctic challenges. Ensuring that there are monitoring, implementation, and reporting requirements will provide the Council with a solid basis to inform future policy development. A focus on actionable goals and deliverables will add credibility to the Arctic Council’s desire to be seen as a sufficient steward of the Arctic.
“Strategic Assessment of Development of the Arctic: Assessment Conducted for the European Union” – The EU-Arctic Nexus and a More Balanced Picture of Arctic Developments for the European Audiences
The 2014 issue of the Arctic Yearbook focuses on human capital in the North, and thus, on local capacities and human development. This resonates well with a number of assessment projects currently carried out in the region. By the end of 2014, the Arctic Human Development Report II is scheduled to be published. Within the Arctic Council, projects such as the large scale Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic assessment or smaller activities dedicated for example to gender equality, take up a number of issues crucial for human capital in the North.
The “Strategic Assessment of Development of the Arctic” report – published in September 2014 – fits well to this increased attention to the human dimension. It is these human-centred aspects of the assessment that are here highlighted. The readers of this year’s Arctic Yearbook may find the “Strategic Assessment” chapters dedicated to mining, land use activities and socio-cultural changes particularly interesting.
The report focuses on the European Arctic (including Greenland and northwest Russia) and analyses development trends in the region, drivers and impacts of Arctic changes, and does so taking into account environmental, social, economic and political dimensions. Against this background the implications of the Arctic changes for the European Union and the role of the EU in shaping these changes are discussed.
The assessment was carried out for the European Commission as part of the preparatory action testing the feasibility of the EU Arctic Information Centre initiative (see http://www.arcticinfo.eu/en/brouchure). The project was implemented by a network of 19 diverse European research, communication and information institutions under the lead of Arctic Centre (University of Lapland) in Rovaniemi. The authors of the report hope that it highlights the human dimension of Arctic change as well as paints for European audiences a less dramatic and more balanced picture of Arctic realities. The task was supported well by a broad engagement of stakeholders, who have greatly contributed to strengthening the message of moderate pace and scope of developments in the region.
This picture of a moderate outlook for economic developments departs from the hopes and fears associated with the vision of “Arctic boom”. Although these hopes and fears generated global interest in the Arctic, they cannot be considered good foundations for the much needed sustained, long-term policy responses. Clearly, the EU and any other actor present in the region should act appropriately to actual reality rather than imagined dramatic narratives. And the latter are still too often heard in Brussels.
The report shows that while it is clear that Arctic environmental and socio-economic changes are driven primarily by the demand for Arctic resources and climate change, the crucial role of regulatory frameworks and policy choices should not be overlooked. For instance, it is often forgotten that current hydrocarbon exploration is not a result of retreating sea ice but of administrative and political decisions. Similarly, the perceived mining “boom” in Fennoscandia, while primarily driven by global demand for minerals, is facilitated to a great extent by industry-friendly and stable regulatory and political environment that Nordic national and local governments wish to create. These developments need to be seen against a variety of social trends in the North, including the interconnections of growing Arctic cities and thinning-out rural areas, gender and age imbalances, increasing tensions between various activities taking place in the Arctic landscape as well as environmental impacts.
Despite the often stated claims, it is far from certain that opportunities connected with climate change – in terms of maritime transport, fisheries or resource extraction – will balance out or even outweigh the climate impacts and risks. While climate change already adversely impacts Arctic environment and landscape, it has a restricted role in triggering Arctic economic developments.
The report accentuates that EU policies and actions play a major role in the Arctic, particularly in the European Arctic. It is often forgotten that the scope of the Arctic-relevant EU policies goes well beyond much discussed EU Arctic policy documents and includes both external and internal dimensions. EU regulatory framework is applicable to Finland and Sweden, but also partly to Norway and Iceland owing to the European Economic Area Agreement. Some Arctic actors seem to overlook the fact that the overwhelming influence the EU exercises in the European Arctic and the broad scope of Arctic-relevant internal policies makes its position in the region very different from that of powers such as China or India. Moreover, to appreciate fully the EU’s standing in the region, one needs to take into account numerous EU cooperation and research programmes, policies which shape the EU’s Arctic environmental and economic footprint as well as the EU’s influence on international processes of relevance for the Arctic (for example the Polar Code or CITES).
One must keep in mind that there is a comparatively limited interest in the Arctic affairs within the EU. Taking into account the EU’s role in the region, sustaining an ongoing long-term commitment of the EU to the Arctic affairs and sensitizing the EU policy-makers to Arctic particularities is in fact in the interest of Arctic communities, nations and stakeholders and should be encouraged rather than discouraged.
Building on ideas coming from stakeholders, the report offers a number of recommendations for the EU policy-makers. Many of these recommendations touch upon human dimension in regional development and enhancing human capital in the European North. For instance, the EU is urged to develop instruments specifically addressing the needs of Arctic cities. Although relatively small in size, northern towns play a role similar to that of major population centres in central Europe. The policy-makers should also continue to facilitate entrepreneurship and innovation (including social innovations) in the region, but with increasing focus on women and dynamic indigenous youth. A greater attention to intra-regional connectivity rather than only North-South links is needed, as it contributes to building northern knowledge- and entrepreneurship-based economies.
A separate chapter in the report analyses various activities relevant for the land use in the European Arctic, highlighting cumulative impacts as well as both tensions and synergies between developments. In the light of these tensions, properly designed mechanisms for resolving conflicts are crucial, as the social capital is founded primarily on trust both within and between communities. Improved and integrated impact assessments, especially if they include a strong social dimension, as well as participatory mechanisms are among the key suggested responses.
The EU policy-makers need to take into account diversity within the Arctic region and pay special attention to the European Arctic, where the EU has the greatest leverage. It seems inevitable that the EU policy-makers will have to keep balance between the internal and external aspects and look for golden mean between the extremes of artificial coherence and failure to properly coordinate between numerous branches of EU Arctic policy. However, what is also important is that the EU communicates clearly – as it is not always the case in the EU policy documents – when its actions refer to EU’s internal or external affairs and to the European Arctic or circumpolar level.
Editors of the “Strategic Assessment of Development of the Arctic” report: Adam Stepien, Timo Koivurova, Paula Kankaanpää (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland)
Lead authors: Sigmar Arnarsson (UiT Arctic University of Norway), Kim van Dam (Arctic Centre, University of Groningen, the Netherlands), Debra Justus (Pierre and Marie Curie University, France), Kirsi Latola (Thule Institute of the University of Oulu, Finland, University of the Arctic Thematic Networks), Michał Łuszczuk (Committee of Polar Research – Polish Academy of Sciences), Gunnar Sander (Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, Norway), Annette Scheepstra (Arctic Centre, University of Groningen, the Netherlands), Adam Stepien (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland), Mikko Strahlendorff (Finnish Meteorological Institute).
Moving Forward in a Resilient North
Anja Jeffrey, Adam Fiser, & Stefan Fournier
The Canadian North has become a focal point for debates about our national sovereignty, security, and economic prosperity. But far more than a frontier for resource development and border disputes, the North is a homeland for many Aboriginal peoples. Across three coasts, it encompasses a diversity of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities. While there is growing national interest in transforming the North through economic development, science, and high technology, many Northerners continue to pursue traditional lifestyles alongside the wage economy. This blending of traditional and modern is both a source of conflicts, and a driver of some remarkable innovations.
Our work has sought to understand how Northerners best cope with and capitalize on their opportunities and challenges. What we have found is that one of the most important conditions for a prosperous North is the presence of healthy and resilient communities. Resilient, healthy communities are capable of addressing local level goals and needs, and are vital to our nation’s sovereignty, security, and economic prosperity.
This vision of a secure, prosperous, and resilient North is one that emphasizes an active policy role for capable Northern communities. We believe that Northern communities are much more than endpoints for service delivery and policy programming. At their best, they are sources of personal and collective resilience – places where local community governments, businesses, and civil society, are actively engaged in supporting their members' well-being, and in steering the major projects that are realizing Canada’s Northern economic potential. It is this kind of community presence that bolsters our Arctic sovereignty.
In emphasizing the importance of resilience for Northern communities, we stand in good company. Among circumpolar nations, and increasingly across the globe, community resilience projects have introduced a new and more encompassing policy perspective on effective community governance, emergency management and risk reduction.
In emergency management and risk reduction fields, resilience refers to a community’s ability to not only survive and absorb a disruption, such as a severe weather event, but also to anticipate adversity and creatively adapt to potential changes and losses. This latter aspect of resilience, the ability to anticipate and adapt to adversity, is critical to our understanding of effective Northern policy.
It can be difficult for small, remote communities to deliver effective public policy. Our research shows that resilience-based strategies can help leverage community government and local resources to better serve the needs of members.
Building Northern resilience requires a comprehensive approach. The goal is to attend to root causes before they become immediate crises. To this end, resilience initiatives should be horizontal and inclusive of the roles that non-governmental actors can play. From a policy practice standpoint, resilience-based strategies help to align the scarce resources of federal and regional programs with the resources, intelligence and understanding of decision-makers who are operating on the frontlines of Northern development. This comprehensive, whole-of-society approach is what best enables Northern decision-makers, workers, entrepreneurs, families, Elders, and youth to work together in solving common problems.
A comprehensive approach to community resilience must also encompass preventive measures that can positively and cumulatively impact long-term development. One major facet of our research has been the health and wellness of Northern Aboriginal children and youth. Early childhood interventions for example, can demonstrably increase personal resilience. Such interventions include family planning and activities that foster protective factors such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, positive and culturally enriching early childhood education experiences, nurturing family and community relations, cultural continuity, and academic achievements. Then, as the child matures, more and different opportunities need to be available to strengthen the resilience of youth; including, in particular, social empowerments that encourage personal responsibility, self-efficacy, and civic engagement. Our work has explored how these capabilities can develop through youth leadership forums, land-based camps, organized sports, and volunteering opportunities.
These initiatives are preventive and holistic in that they seek to strengthen the child’s chances of becoming a healthy, happy, and productive adult who will pass on his or her strengths to the next generation. In essence, the resilient child is better prepared for the challenges of youth. The resilient youth is better prepared to take on the greater responsibilities and challenges of adulthood.
The North is breathtaking and replete with opportunity. Yet it can also be a harsh and demanding place in which to live. Ensuring that communities can seize opportunities as well as survive and adapt to economic, environmental, and social challenges will help them prosper and grow. This, in turn, will solidify Canada’s Arctic sovereignty and allow us to move forward as an Arctic nation.
Devolution in the Northwest Territories: Progress or Poison?
When the Northwest Territories achieved devolution of lands and resources from Ottawa in April, it was a historic moment in Canada’s political evolution. But a key test of devolution’s nation-building potential will be how well it supports real aboriginal-government partnership. On that score, there is cause for concern.
On the first day of April, the citizens of Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT) collectively took control over the land beneath their feet for the first time in their nearly 150-year history. Previously, federal ministers in Ottawa had the final say on land use and resource development there. Now territorial ministers in Yellowknife do. No less important, the NWT now shares with Ottawa the considerable royalties yielded by its natural wealth—oil, diamonds, rare earths, tungsten, base metals and more.
With this ‘devolution’ of control, the NWT took a historic step in its political evolution within Canada. Although still a territory created and limited by federal statute, the NWT assumed powers typically reserved for provinces, which share in the Canadian Crown. As significant as it was locally, NWT devolution was also a nation-building event – and a sequel to Yukon devolution in 2003.
In practice, nation building in the Canadian North has meant building a durable system of shared governance with aboriginal peoples – in the NWT, the Gwich’in, Inuvialuit, NWT Métis and Akaitcho, Dehcho, Sahtu and Tlicho Dene. This contrasts with the constitutional development of much of southern Canada, which long preceded Supreme Court decisions confirming aboriginal rights and title. For this reason, NWT devolution can be fully understood only against a backdrop of decades of modern treaty making, by which aboriginal peoples have been recognised as co-governors of their traditional lands.
Through their treaties, the NWT’s aboriginal governments are guaranteed a share of the regulatory powers that the ‘public government’ of the NWT (GNWT) now exercises through devolution. The GNWT and aboriginal governments have also agreed to share some resource revenues. In this context, devolution will fulfil its nation-building promise only if it fosters collaborative partnership between aboriginal and public government.
But there is already cause for concern, on three counts. First, the Akaitcho and Dehcho have not finished negotiating treaties. With devolution, the GNWT now sits across the table in Ottawa’s place. Moreover, the GNWT now derives political and fiscal power from the very land and resources the Akaitcho and Dehcho claim. The GNWT may well prove more able than Ottawa at sharing governance, but treaty making is complex and sensitive. The Akaitcho and Dehcho worry about the risk, and they have so far refused to accept a share of resource revenues from the GNWT lest it prejudice negotiations.
Second, after the devolution agreement-in-principle was unveiled in 2011, the Gwich’in loudly criticised the GNWT for selling the territory’s natural wealth too cheaply. The GNWT had accepted not only a 50-50 split of resource royalties with Ottawa, but also a cap on the total take. The Gwich’in complained that both split and cap were too low – and that large excess royalties would flow to Ottawa were the resource industry to grow strongly.
As I have argued elsewhere, the cap does seem particularly unfair, and sets an unwelcome precedent for resource-revenue sharing in the Canadian North. Defined as a small percentage of a hypothetical and dubious figure that Ottawa uses to represent the GNWT’s budgetary need, and lacking any connection to a clear vision or fiscal plan for the territory’s future development, the cap appears to reflect nothing more than Ottawa’s interest in limiting its own costs.
Indeed, the GNWT responded to its critics that, after several years of negotiating, no better deal could be had. Reluctant to reopen its hard-won agreement, the GNWT insisted that aboriginal governments would have to take or leave it. In the end, the Inuvialuit, NWT Métis, Sahtu, Tlicho and – after electing new leadership – even the Gwich’in had decided it would be better to be counted in than left out. But if in coming years Ottawa siphons off comparatively large royalties from the territory, aboriginal discontent will surely rekindle.
Third - and perhaps most serious – the NWT devolution bill presented to Parliament introduced an unpleasant surprise. Expected were the legalities necessary to transfer Ottawa’s control of lands and resources to the GNWT. Unexpected was a proposal for sweeping changes to the regulatory system the GNWT would inherit, and which gave practical effect to the shared governance enshrined in aboriginal treaties.
Concerned that the NWT’s regulatory system was too complex to attract investment, Ottawa proposed to abolish most treaty-based local land-management boards in favour of a centralised ‘superboard’. With fewer local members, the superboard potentially implied diminished aboriginal powers. Unaware that this proposal would be bundled with devolution until the bill was read in Parliament in January, most of the NWT’s aboriginal governments were incensed by what they saw as Ottawa’s last-minute and unilateral move.
Ottawa responded coolly, claiming simply to be acting on a long-standing recommendation to rationalise the NWT’s regulatory system. For its part, the GNWT disavowed the superboard - but perhaps tellingly it also disavowed responsibility for informing its aboriginal partners that Ottawa would link the superboard to devolution, despite knowing Ottawa’s intention months before. Indignant at taking one step forward with devolution, only to be pushed two steps back with an unwanted superboard, aboriginal governments called on Parliament to separate the two.
Put to a vote, a motion to divide the bill failed, and both devolution and superboard passed together. The Sahtu and Tlicho have retaliated with lawsuits accusing Ottawa of infringing on treaty rights. If the courts rule against them, it may merely set the stage for grassroots resistance to resource development on their traditional lands. No one who shepherded the NWT down the long path to devolution would have wished for such an outcome.
Instead, what they presumably wanted was meaningful progress towards the political maturity of the NWT - and of Canadian Confederation. And seen as a whole, devolution is without doubt a great political achievement. The control and royalties the NWT has won are unlikely ever to be rescinded. But devolution’s legacy - its nation-building promise - depends fundamentally on how well aboriginal peoples and government now cooperate to overcome the new risks to their partnership. What seems political progress today could turn political poison tomorrow.
Nunavummiut Speak Out to Their FamiliesBack to top
‘Feeding My Family’ Organizers
Three years ago, communities across Nunavut joined together to speak out against the shockingly high food prices in the north, protesting in front of local grocery stores. This was the first time such actions had been organized in the remote, fly-in communities of Canada’s northernmost territory; Feeding My Family (FMF) is the movement that grew out of these protests. The Facebook site quickly grew to over 20,000 members, and FMF has provided a forum for Nunavummiut to come together to share personal struggles and expose the impacts of hunger in the north. Members have been posting photos of the exorbitant food costs in the north, showing prices as high as $28 for a head of cabbage and $99 for a whole fish.
Nunavut is the home of the Inuit, and its small population has survived from hunting, fishing, and gathering. Traditional practices are strong and hunting for sustenance remains an important part of life, but a legacy of colonization (such as the permanent settlements and residential schools) is that Inuit cannot eat as their ancestors did. Many hunters cannot afford the cost of hunting equipment, and country foods harvested from the land must now be supplemented with store-bought foods. There are many statistics on hunger in Nunavut, including estimates that 70% of households are food insecure. But beyond statistics, FMF aims to bring out the voices behind these numbers, serving as a space for Nunavummiut to speak out about how hunger is affecting their families. One member posted, “…saw three kids eating at the dump. [I] told them not to eat at the dump that there going to get sick. [O]ne kid said… price too high mom can’t really buy good food too much. Told the kids hop on my honda we’re going my place I will cook something for you to eat proper food not outdated food from the dump… my heart broke to pieces when I saw them eating at the dump...”.
Many describe their struggles to buy healthy food, children going to bed hungry and not attending school, and poor quality food (often past the expiry date) and limited variety in stores. A recent survey found that food prices in Nunavut are on average 140% higher than the rest of Canada, and the average cost to feed a family of four can reach almost $2,000 per month. With the extremely high costs of living in the north, many have to choose between buying food and paying bills. Members are concerned about the limited employment opportunities, overcrowded housing, and high costs of freight, airfare, and internet service. Nunavut’s median annual income is $28,500, with almost 40% of the population receiving social assistance. There are few food banks set up in the territory and, although food sharing networks are strong, many describe the stress of having to provide for or depend on their extended family for food.
Another member posted, “I had to go over to Social Services and ask for some food too. I go hungry so my kids can eat too, yes we all have family to help but they also have kids, right? I try my best not to ask from my siblings only when we badly need help that’s when I seek help...”.
FMF members are calling on governments and retailers to do more to address hunger in Nunavut. Much of the criticism has focused on Nutrition North Canada (NNC), the federal freight subsidy program that replaced the Food Mail program in 2011. Food Mail used to subsidize northern residents directly, but NNC now subsidizes the retailers, rationalizing that it will trickle down to customers. Two food retailers have a virtual monopoly in Nunavut (Northwest Company and Arctic Cooperatives), and they stand to profit greatly. FMF members contend that NNC is not actually lowering food costs in the communities, and the photos of food prices posted on Facebook are serving as a form of price monitoring. There have been accusations that NNC is selectively reporting food costs based on unverified price information, and the Auditor General of Canada is currently auditing NNC.
FMF is about uniting Northerners as a collective voice and has been a catalyst for community-based solutions, facilitating other spin-off groups to address hunger in the north. Protesting is not something Inuit traditionally do, but adapting and working together has been the way Inuit have always survived the harsh Arctic environment. Hunger had been fought by their ancestors and it is fought again today using different techniques.
The food protests two years ago drew worldwide attention to the reality of hunger in Canada’s north, and FMF works to continue bringing awareness to the rest of Canada and the world. You can support FMF by visiting the website, joining the Facebook group and sharing it widely in your community, and contacting your Member of Parliament in Canada.
Can Resource Development Be Good for Arctic Communities? The Resource and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA) Project
As the world economy continues to expand, demand for energy and other natural resources is increasing. Reserves of some resources are becoming more difficult to replace. Natural resource industries are increasingly interested in new sources of supply in non-traditional yet politically stable regions such as the Arctic. This is not necessarily good news for Arctic communities. Past experience has showed that many Arctic communities have benefited little from resource exploitation. Indeed, a large number of northern communities have experienced enormous social, economic, and environmental challenges over the past half century and these challenges can be closely linked to impacts of past resource exploitation. Communities are disrupted to serve the interests of a type of resource development where few jobs go to local peoples and the arrival and departure of migrant workers creates great social problems. Resource dependence is seen as one of the most important challenges facing the region.
Yet there is some hope that this can change. There is some indication that the worst aspects of the resource dependence can be countered through the introduction of new policies and models of development that increase local control of development and ensure a higher share of resource rents and other benefits are passed on to northern communities. In certain areas of the Arctic new land claims agreements, impact-benefit agreements, and co-management boards offer the potential for the development of natural resources in a manner that increases the benefits of these developments for local communities and helps ensure that development is done in an environmental sound manner. New relationships between governments, communities, and industry are increasing the possibility that more benefits from resource development can be passed on to communities – including in the areas of human capital and increased capacity.
Finding answers to these questions is the reason behind the formation of the Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (ReSDA) project. Funded from 2011to 2018 by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as a Major Collaborative Research Initiative, ReSDA is a partnership of Arctic communities and over 50 researchers from 29 institutions and all eight circumpolar nations. As the Arctic is increasingly the site of extractive industry interest, the ReSDA network is looking for ways to increase the benefits of extractive industry developments to communities and to mitigate negative impacts.
The initial research conducted by ReSDA is contained in a series of 14 gap analyses reports (available at www.resda.ca) covering a number of areas where the potential exists for natural resource developments to increase the capacity of Arctic communities. These include the increased ability of communities to adequately measure and thereby control impacts, new impact benefit arrangements between communities and industries, new regulations that allow communities the ability ensure more sustainable environmental and social development, new fiscal mechanisms to increase revenues flowing to communities, new education and training programs that provide more long-term capacity building, new mitigation tools, and increased integration of traditional knowledge into development and monitoring programs.
These gap analyses have led to a new series of research subprojects where ReSDA researchers are currently trying to answer such questions as:
• how can we develop better, community controlled, indicators of change linked to resource development;
• how can we maximize the amount of money that stays in a region;
• what are the various ways that funding is distributed within communities and what are the impacts of these;
• what are the best ways to mitigate the main social impacts of resource development on communities;
• what are the best options for Arctic communities in dealing with long distance commuting;
• how can we deal with the differing gender impacts of resource development;
• what are the best ways to deal with negative impacts arising from current Impact Benefit Agreements;
• what can be done to ensure that resource development does not negatively impact the subsistence economy of northern communities;
• what are the best examples of employment, training, and education programs associated with resource development in the north;
• what are the best examples of the use of traditional knowledge in the planning and monitoring of resource development;
• and what are the best practices in developing relationships between industry and communities and how do these relationships influence success.
Mining in Greenland – Current State & Plans for the Future
In February 2014 Naalakkersuisut, the Government of Greenland published Greenland’s Oil and Mineral Strategy 2014 – 2018. The ‘Summary’ of the strategy states that:
The Government of Greenland’s goal with the mineral resources sector is clear. It wants to promote prosperity and welfare by creating new income and employment opportunities in the area of mineral resources activities. More specifically, the Government of Greenland’s long-term goal is to further the chances of making a commercially viable oil find – and that there are always five to ten active mines in Greenland in the long term. Mining activities of this scale will provide tax revenues of more than DKK 30bn over the next 15 years. The potential of an oil find may be much larger. Based on the current assumptions, the establishment of two oil fields – a 500m barrel field from 2020 and a 2bn barrel field from 2025 – would generate more than DKK 435bn to the Mineral Resources Fund until 2060 (Naalakkersuisoq, 2014: 8).
This optimistic approach might be supported by the number of exploration licenses for mining activities that increased from 2002 until 2011 (followed by a decrease) and that exploration expenses from 2007 to 2012 on average amounted to roughly DKK 500 mill. Furthermore seven exclusive oil and gas exploration and exploitation licenses were granted in 2010 to seven blocks in the Greenlandic part of Baffin Bay.
However, this approach is not supported by the hard facts of the Greenlandic situation according to opinions by most industry experts and researchers [see for instance: The Economic Council of Greenland (2013) and The Committee for Greenlandic Mineral Resources to the Benefit of Society (2014)] – including the actual activities and known future plans of the major industrial stakeholders. Rather, the overly optimistic view substantiate skepticism:
• At the time of writing there are no active mines in Greenland. The last mine in operation, the Nalunaq goldmine near Nanortalik in South Greenland, was shut down October 31, 2013 and the remaining equipment and waste was carried away in August 2014 (Nyvold, 2014). Two projects, an iron ore project (London Mining’s Isukasia project) in the Nuuk Fiord and a gemstone project (True North Gem’s ruby project) at Qeqertarsuatsiat south of Nuuk, have exploitation licenses and both projects are in the process of raising capital. The iron ore project is a so-called ‘large scale project’ with estimated total construction costs of DKK 13 billion. The expectations for the impacts on employment and the Greenlandic economy have been significant but – supposedly not least because of decreasing world market prices – London Mining has not been successful in raising capital.
• Apart from seismic surveys in North East Greenland no oil exploration has been carried out in Greenland since 2010 and 2011. Cairn Energy, the most active company so far, has declared a break in their exploration activities and has closed their Greenland office in Nuuk; StatOil is focusing their activities north of Norway and ExxonMobil did not give a bid for the northeastern coast of Greenland offshore licenses and no exploration activities are announced. The strikes and exploitation of shale gas in USA and potential finds in Europe definitely contributed to the decreasing interest in more costly and environmentally risky exploration activities in Arctic – including Greenlandic – waters.
Even if mining activities have not yet significantly impacted the Greenlandic society, the public debate has raised awareness on a variety of aspects of mineral extraction and has fueled a number of civil society activities and NGO initiatives. An overall driver uniting most of the political landscape has been the vision of being able to become economically self-sufficient and obtain political independency from Denmark. Furthermore a number of themes have been part of the mineral resource discourse including aspects of:
• Sustainable development: including the social, economic, environmental and cultural approaches;
• Democracy: for instance public participation and informed consent, transparency in the administrative procedures as well as the planning processes of the companies;
• Economic development: how much and under which legislative conditions and tax regimes will Greenland and its people benefit from the activities of extractive industries – and is there a risk that Greenland might be caught in the ‘resource curse’?;
• Labour market concerns: including necessary skills, education, mobility and the potential use of immigrant labour and risk of ‘social dumping’;
• Environmental protection of a pristine and vulnerable nature and living resources;
• Uranium mining: the political parties had for several years agreed upon a zero-tolerance on uranium mining – including mining activities were uranium was a by-product. The ban on uranium mining was lifted in the Fall 2013 with a one-vote-majority in Inatsisartut, the Greenland Parliament;
• Rights issues of indigenous peoples and of specific groups, not least hunters and fishermen;
• International relations: strategic resources like rare earth elements and uranium as well as the potential influence of, for instance, Chinese investments.
A number of the, now mature, mining projects were developed in a period of increasing world market prices on minerals. Facing decreasing world market prices and subsequently, a reluctance among investors to provide capital might inspire political decision makers, other stakeholders and the general public to ‘reinvent’ a more diverse and multifaceted economic development strategy including mining activities. Greenland’s export of shellfish (especially prawns) and fish (especially Greenland halibut) still make up roughly 90 percent of Greenland’s total export. It thus seems obvious to ground an economic development strategy also on renewable resources – including to a larger degree processing and refining marine products. It might furthermore be advantageous to focus on areas and products where Greenland indisputably has comparative advantages and the possibility to develop niche products – for instance within tourism, the cultural sector and potentially a growing agricultural sector. Last but not least, the energy potential, primarily hydropower, might offer a potential in the Greenland economic development strategy (Poppel, forthcoming).
Committee for Greenlandic Mineral Resources to the Benefit of Society (2014). To the Benefit of Greenland. http://news.ku.dk/greenlandnaturalresources/rapportandbackgroundpapers/To_the_benefit_of_Greenland.pdf retrieved September 7, 2014.
Economic Council of Greenland (2013): The Economy of Greenland 2013. Nuuk.
retrieved September 7, 2014.
Naalakkersuisut, Government of Greenland (2014): Greenland’s Oil and Mineral Strategy 2014-2018. http://www.govmin.gl/images/stories/about_bmp/publications/Greenland_oil_a nd_mineral_strategy_2014-2018_ENG.pdf retrieved September 7, 2014.
Nyvold, M. (2014). Færdig med at rydde op efter mineprojekt. Sermitsiaq 36:11.
Poppel, B. (forthcoming). Les défis économiques du Groenland (The Economic challenges of Greenland). In: Masson-Delmotte, V., Gauthier, É., Gremillet, D., Huctin, J.-M. and Swingedouw, D. (Eds.): Groenland. CNRS Éditions.
Maine’s Role in the North Atlantic Future
Dana B. Eidsness
With direct container service to North Atlantic destinations through the Port of Portland and bulk capacity through its ports in Eastport and Searsport, Maine is in a position to capitalize on emerging shipping lanes in the Arctic Sea, which could see the state become a hub of international trade in the Northeast U.S. The Maine Port Authority is preparing for this, putting port and rail improvements in place to facilitate increased throughput.
Located in the Northeast, USA and bordering the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec with 5633 km of Atlantic coastline, Maine is well-positioned as a hub for North Atlantic shipping and supply chain activity - with comparable (ocean) shipping fees to domestic and European destinations. With the opening of the Northwest Passage, Maine will be able to offer effective shipping solutions to Canada, Europe and Asia through its ports.
2014 was a pivotal year in Maine’s development of North Atlantic relations. With the advent of Eimskip, Iceland’s largest shipping line moving its U.S. headquarters to Portland Maine in 2013 and the subsequent visit to Maine of The Honorable Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, the State opened the Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO) in 2014, to develop increased trade and investment activity between Maine and the North Atlantic Region and organized a number of events and outreach activities to launch this effort.
The passages over the High North are opening and Maine’s ports are ideally situated to play a large role in the future of global trade - Maine needs to participate in Arctic conversations and build relationships throughout the region. This will require a coordinated effort, which MENADO can help lead. Climate change in the Arctic provides both promise and peril and Maine, and the country must prepare for the new opportunities and for the new risks that we will face.
- Senator Angus King
Maine hosted two, major North Atlantic-themed events in Bangor, Maine in 2014. Maine International Trade Day: ‘The New North’, with business intelligence presentations from the Greenlandic and Canadian Governments, as well as panel discussions including businesses and tourism officials from Maine, Atlantic Canada and Iceland. The audience consisted of over 300 of Maine’s most internationally-active businesses with a keen interest to increase trade activity with the region.
At a second event, the Maine National Guard, University of Maine's School of Policy and International Affairs and the United States Coast Guard collaborated to present “Leadership in the High North; A political, military, economic and environmental symposium of the Arctic Opening.” General Charles Jacoby, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command headed up an international collection of experts to discuss issues related to trade, changing environmental conditions, and the strategic geopolitical situation in the Arctic. Major General Christopher Coates, Deputy Commander Continental Canadian Joint Operations Command discussed issues specific to the Canadian military and their ongoing operations in the High North. The Maine Port Authority and Iceland’s Eimskip Shipping Line presented current trends and possibilities in trade among North Atlantic nations. The University of Maine's Dr. Paul Mayweski and Rear Admiral Jonathan White, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, and Director of Task Force Climate Change discussed changing environmental conditions in the High North. Representatives from all of the New England states, New York, Alaska, New Brunswick, Quebec, Iceland and Denmark participated in the symposium.
These two events preceded a successful State of Maine trade mission and outreach to Iceland, the UK and Greenland, resulting in projected sales in these markets, as well as the connection of Maine business resources with proposed mining and infrastructure projects in Greenland.
A study released over the summer of 2014 reported that the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans.1 This warming is contributing to rising seas, already noticeable along Maine’s coastline and rising sea temperatures are having an effect on Maine’s fisheries. Long established species are heading for colder waters, and species that are unusual for the Gulf of Maine are becoming prolific.
Abrupt climate change, initiated by Arctic ice-melt is impacting the State of Maine and our scientific community has long contributed to the study of Arctic change and is now at the forefront of helping the world understand the impacts this change will bring. Notably, University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute has made major scientific contributions to the understanding of climate science, including research on the role of marine ice sheets and ice streams in rapid deglaciation and sea-level rise, recent change in Antarctica and Greenland, and is now analyzing the global implications of abrupt climate change to climate prediction. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, University of Maine, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and University of New England’s Marine Science program are all contributing ocean science to record and analyze the impacts of climate change.
Maine has contributions to make to the future of the North Atlantic region, and they will be diverse. We will contribute economic development expertise and competitive logistics solutions, business partnerships, scientific collaborations—and will facilitate Maine-North Atlantic exchanges in the Arts, culture and tourism. Maine’s role in the North Atlantic future is active and growing.
Figure 1: Cost Based Geography: Map shows the proximity of Maine to arctic nations from a freight cost perspective with Icelandic Steamship Company Eimskip.
1. Reference: GMRI, Andrew Pershing and Nick Record http://www.seascapemodeling.org/seascape_projects/2014/01/the-gulf-of-maine-is-warming-fast.html and http://www.seascapemodeling.org/seascape_projects/2014/03/another-warming-maine-map.html
The Developing International Maritime Organization Polar Code
Lawson W. Brigham
Most professionals in the polar and maritime communities are well aware that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is developing a mandatory or binding Polar Code for ships operating in polar waters. Others outside the marine world may have heard of this significant international effort although much of the work is quite technical and remains under negotiation by the maritime states. This comment steps back from the Polar Code’s technical details and presents the broad themes and issues that are being addressed in this historic effort.
The Polar Code at its core addresses marine safety and environmental challenges for ships operating in remote, sometimes extreme, conditions where marine infrastructure is limited or non-existent. It is important to also note that the Code is directly related to the future protection of Arctic people, especially Arctic coastal communities and their traditional lifestyles. The IMO is seeking a uniform, nondiscriminatory set of rules and regulations for polar ships, which in the maritime industry will hopefully result in a level playing field for all marine operators. Importantly, the Code is a set of amendments to existing IMO safety and environmental protection instruments - the current maritime conventions are being amended to adapt and enhance ship systems for operations in both Arctic and Antarctic waters. Boundaries have been delineated in the Arctic (north of 60 degrees North in the Bering Sea with adjustments further north in the North Atlantic) and Antarctic (south of 60 degrees South) where the mandatory Polar Code will be applicable. A set of ship types have evolved in the negotiations where certain operating conditions require more extensive ship requirements. The new Code will likely require that commercial carriers and passenger ships more than 500 tons be certificated (all will be required to obtain a Polar Ship Certificate from the flag state) and also carry a Polar Operations Operating Manual that is unique to a given ship.
The history of the development of a polar code extends back to the end of the Soviet Union and initiatives by several nations including Germany and Canada. An IMO Outside Working Group (OWG) was established in 1993 and this experts group, led by Canada, drafted the framework for an initial Polar Code during a five-year period. Key strategies of the OWG included: building on existing IMO ship rules and standards for safety, environmental protection, and training (rather than replacement or duplication); focusing equally on the safety of human life and protection of the marine environment; and, using the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the legal framework for the polar oceans while also considering the extensive knowledge and experience of the ice navigation regulatory regimes in Russia, Canada and the Baltic states (the Swedish-Finnish shipping rules for seasonal sea ice). Early in the OWG process, the IMO endorsed a set of Polar Code harmonization principles that included:
• Ships are to have suitable ice strengthening for their intended voyages.
• No oil shall be carried against the outer hull.
• All crew members must be properly trained in the operations of polar vessels.
• Appropriate navigational equipment shall be carried by all polar vessels.
• Suitable survival equipment shall be carried for each person.
• There will be a set of unified classes for polar ships operating in ice.
• Consideration must be given to vessel installed power and endurance.
The IMO accepted the draft Polar Code from the OWG but decided as an alternative strategy to develop a set of guidelines titled IMO Guidelines for Ships Operating in Arctic Ice-Covered Waters. Approved in 2002 these Guidelines were voluntary, or recommendatory, and focused solely on the Arctic. During 2004-2009 the Arctic Council conducted the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), which in a key recommendation called for the mandatory application of relevant parts of the Guidelines and augmentation of global IMO ship safety and pollution prevention conventions. The Arctic states using AMSA as their policy framework, on which they had reached consensus and approval, voiced their strong view that mandatory IMO rules and regulations of Arctic shipping were required. Overlapping with the work of AMSA, the International Association of Classification Societies (IASC) during 2006-08 developed and adopted a set of unified requirements for Polar Class ships. Also in 2009 the IMO made a significant change to the Guidelines revising them to include ships operating in the Antarctic and changing the nature of the rules to address the more general region ‘polar waters’ rather than ice-covered waters (with the IMO title Guidelines for Ships Operating in Polar Waters). This change was recognition by IMO that many ships, particularly passenger vessels, are operating in polar waters in summer that are not necessarily ice-covered. Also, any future instrument would have bi-polar application as many polar ships operate at both ends of the world. These developments set the stage for establishment in 2010 of an IMO working group on addressing the need for mandatory requirements including crew competency and training.
The ongoing work at IMO on a mandatory Polar Code has been mainly conducted since 2010 by IMO’s Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction and has covered a broad range of themes including: ship’s design and construction; required marine safety and lifesaving equipment; operational training, manning and experience of the polar mariners; and environmental protection challenges. The IMO Marine Safety Committee (MSC) has been considering amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The proposed draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) are being considered by the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC). MEPC is negotiating the mandatory application of the Polar Code for MARPOL Annexes I (prevention of pollution by oil); Annex II (prevention of pollution by noxious liquids); Annex IV (prevention of pollution by sewage); and Annex V (prevention of pollution by garbage). IMO’s Sub-Committee on Human Element Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) is currently reviewing the critical training and manning requirements for polar operators.
Several practical elements of the proposed Polar Code have already been communicated by the IMO. A proposed Polar Ship Certificate would classify a ship for operation in polar waters as one of three types:
• Category A - Ships designed for operation in polar waters in at least medium first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions (these ships correspond to IASC Polar Classes PC 1 through PC 5).
• Category B - Ships designed for operation in polar waters in at least thin first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions (these ships correspond to IASC Polar Classes PC 6 & PC 7).
• Category C - Ships designed to operate in open water or in ice conditions less severe than those included in Categories A and B.
These categories provide key flexibility since not all ships are intended for operation in the same ice conditions and importantly, the same polar navigation season. For example, a non-ice strengthened passenger vessel (which normally operates in open water) on a voyage in polar waters during summer would be classified as a Category C ship. The Polar Ship certificate would be approved by the flag state and would include information on polar ship category and ice class; operational limitations; and, required additional safety, communications and navigation equipment. Another practical requirement proposed is the Polar Waters Operational Manual, which will include ship specific information, such as operational capabilities and limitations, for the owners and operators of ships voyaging in polar waters.
The IMO anticipates that the MSC will adopt the SOLAS Polar Code amendments in November 2014. The MEPC should adopt the MARPOL Polar Code amendments by April 2015. It is important to note that the Polar Code is anticipated to have both mandatory and recommendatory (non-mandatory) provisions for safety and pollution prevention. Implementation of the Polar Code should begin in May 2015.
The IMO mandatory Polar Code will be a seminal and historic international governance regime for the polar seas. During the implementation phase of the Code from 2015-17, it is hoped the United States, as chair of the Arctic Council, will lead the Arctic states in advocacy for the Code within the global maritime community and to a global audience.
The ratification of a new Polar Code hopefully by 2017 will set binding and enhanced international standards for new and existing commercial ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Ratification of these measures will herald a new era of protecting Arctic people and the marine environment.
Fednav Pioneers the Use of Drones in Polar ShippingBack to top
In March 2014, Fednav became the first shipping company to employ drones, or Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV), for ice reconnaissance on a commercial voyage. The Umiak I, one of Fednav’s three powerful icebreaking bulk carriers, used a variety of video-equipped drones to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters of the Labrador Coast.
The goal was to provide the captain and officers with detailed real-time visual information on the local ice conditions.
Fednav Limited is a Montreal-based international shipping company. Its principal activities include the transport of bulk and general cargo worldwide. Since the Company’s very early days, the Arctic has played a vital role in Fednav’s success. Fednav in turn, has played a pivotal role in the development of innovative transportation solutions for the harsh Arctic conditions. As such, the company is widely recognized in Canada and internationally as a pioneer in Polar shipping.
Enfotec, a Fednav subsidiary and industry leader, has for more than 20 years specialized in providing advanced ice imagery and analysis to vessels operating in difficult ice conditions. Enfotec is also the developer and distributor of IceNav™, a shipboard navigation system used by many types of vessels operating in ice-covered waters worldwide. This system allows mariners to access and use satellite imagery and up-to-date ice and weather information. It also incorporates enhanced marine-based radar for the detection of sea ice.
In collaboration with Dizifilms, a Canadian leader in the commercial UAVs industry based in Beloeil, Quebec, Enfotec seeks to improve ice information available to the ship’s crew in order to optimize the vessel’s routing. With advances in recent years in the quality of information derived from satellite and radar images and conventional ice charts, the use of unmanned air vehicles for ice detection allows for the immediate capture of subtle ice features such as ridges, leads, and fractures. The UAVs deliver critical high-quality, short-range visual observations in real-time, allowing navigators to see beyond the normal horizon for strategic navigation. As a result, the crew has access to additional tools to help them make decisions for safer and optimal routing through the ice.
The backdrop for the application of this emerging technology was the Labrador Coast. The coast experiences heavy winter conditions very similar to those experienced in the Canadian Arctic - thick first-year ice that is heavily deformed under wind-induced pressure and remnants of multi-year and glacial ice embedded in the ice cover - which pose great challenges for navigation. Avoiding zones of severely deformed or pressured ice can save thousands of litres of fuel, thereby contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing the operational cost of the voyage.
In the near future, Fednav and Enfotec plan to take this project further by having drones onboard the Nunavik through the Northwest Passage, in September 2014, as well as in the Hudson Strait during a winter voyage in 2015. In the long-term, Enfotec seeks to develop a methodology for the integration of drone imagery into regular route planning for winter voyages in heavy ice conditions.
An Arctic Council Treaty? Finland’s Bold Move
On 23 August 2013, the Office of the Finnish Prime Minister published an updated Strategy for the Arctic Region, which included express statements of support for placing the Arctic Council on a treaty footing (14, 44). Four months later, the Prime Minister publicly linked this objective with Finland’s proposal to hold a summit of Council leaders and with Finland's upcoming chairmanship of the Council in 2017 (Nilsen 2013). The goal of this commentary is to contextualise and evaluate this fresh development in Arctic affairs.
Finland’s intention to work towards a treaty-based Council singles it out from the forum’s other members, the most powerful of whom have favoured consistently more informal, non-binding and piecemeal approaches to Arctic governance based on the legal status quo. At the formation of the Council in 1996, the US “had difficulty with the notion” of establishing a new international organisation, and thus the Council was created without legal personality (Bloom 1999).1 In the Ilulissat Declaration of 2008, the ‘Arctic Five’ states of Canada, US, Norway, Denmark and Russia rejected the need for “a new and comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean”, citing instead their commitment to the existing “extensive international legal framework” (para 4, 3). They also took the opportunity to assert their “unique position” in terms of responding to Arctic climate change “by virtue of their sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in large areas of the Arctic Ocean” (para 3). In a similar vein in 2011, members of the Council agreed to include within the criteria for admitting observers recognition of: (1) Arctic states’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the region; and (2) the “solid foundation for responsible management” provided by the current “extensive legal framework” applicable to the Arctic Ocean (SAO Report 2011: 50).2 Via this mechanism, the most dominant Council members have already succeeded in gaining in-principle acceptance of the legal status quo from Japan, China, India, South Korea, Singapore and Italy, all of whom were admitted as observers last year. The way in which the Council Secretariat was established, also in 2013, further underlines the highly conservative position of the most powerful Council members when it comes to legal and institutional innovation in the region. While the Secretariat was bestowed with limited legal personality for the purposes of facilitating relations with its host country and employing personnel, general legal personality was not extended to the Council as an international organisation in its own right (SAO Report 2011: 49).
While this so-called ‘soft law’ approach has dominated Arctic politics for some time, Finland’s current push towards ‘hard law’ is not entirely without precedent. The idea of an Arctic Treaty, modelled on the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, gained some popularity a few years ago, culminating in 2008 - just four months after the Ilulissat Declaration - with the European Parliament calling on the European Commission “to be prepared to pursue the opening of international negotiations designed to lead to the adoption of an international treaty for the protection of the Arctic” (2008: para 15). The lack of support for such an idea amongst the Arctic states themselves ensured that no progress in this direction was made. Subsequently, the Arctic states signed two new treaties - the 2011 Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic and the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. From this, a growing appreciation among Arctic states as to the benefits of ‘hard law’ might be implied. However, a deeper examination of these agreements reveals their inherent and major weaknesses: both are explicitly made ‘subject to the availability of relevant resources’ (2011: art 12(2); 2013: art 15(2)), and the dispute settlement procedure is simply ‘by direct negotiations’ or ‘consultations’ amongst the disputing parties themselves (2011: art 17; 2013: art 18). Thus, the terms of the agreements ensure individual sovereignty is preserved. This strongly suggests that the desire for more hard law mechanisms in the region remains tenuous, and that the goal of creating an independent, treaty-based Council is likely to remain an uphill battle for its supporters for some time yet.
Nevertheless, there are good, persuasive arguments in support of a treaty-based Council, which, over time, may gain greater acceptance among its members. Firstly, transforming the Council into an international organisation would cement its status as the pre-eminent body for Arctic affairs in a region replete with non-binding fora pursuing overlapping and uncoordinated agendas. A treaty basis would not only elevate the Council’s status, but would also preserve to a certain extent the privileged position of its members in the region – arguably a necessary compromise if deep and sustained Arctic cooperation is to mean anything at all in practice. This rationale is likely to be particularly appealing to Finland, Iceland and Sweden, the three Council members that have been excluded entirely from meetings of the ‘Arctic Five’ – a separate forum within which decisions concerning the central Arctic Ocean have been taken.3 Despite formal protest and criticism from the ‘Arctic Three’ about their exclusion, ‘Arctic Five meetings continue.4 Thus, forging ahead with a strengthened and formalised Council represents the best opportunity for the ‘Arctic Three’ to maintain their influence over the future direction and shape of Arctic affairs.
Secondly, a treaty-backed Council could provide the infrastructure, momentum, coordination and planning necessary to underpin present Arctic activities and instigate new ones, while avoiding duplication of effort. For instance, a legally reinvigorated Council could play an ongoing role monitoring and encouraging compliance with the 2011 Search and Rescue agreement and the 2013 Marine Oil Pollution agreement, as well as making available its ‘good offices’ in the event that dispute settlement was needed. Thirdly, an independent Council with its own status and identity could take on a primary advocacy role for the region, helping to counter some of the more sensationalised and self-interested accounts of Arctic politics which have surfaced, particularly since 2007.
Perhaps most importantly, the stepchange represented by a Council grounded in treaty law would help to move Arctic politics on from the present unsatisfactory scenario in which powerful Arctic states (both individually and collectively) insist upon their own leadership in their ‘backyard’, while at the same time failing to lead when it comes to the important work of building a strong and shared vision for the region. From this perspective, Finland’s initiative represents a welcome and valuable chance to reconsider the basic assumptions, aims and avenues of Arctic cooperation and governance that have shaped the politics of the region since the 1990s. This is a particularly important exercise in light of much greater knowledge and awareness of the social, environmental and economic changes now taking place in the Arctic. It is imperative that mechanisms for Arctic cooperation and governance reflect the seriousness of these changes and are structured so as to facilitate collective and coordinated responses to them. An Arctic Council with proper legal standing would go a long way towards providing a stable and authoritative framework within which such action could be designed, negotiated and implemented. Whether the dominant Council members take up the vital opportunity presented by Finland’s proposal in order to achieve this outcome is, however, another matter.Notes
1. Prior to 1996, however, Bloom notes that Canada “began to advocate the transformation of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) into a new international organization which would not only subsume the existing AEPS programs but would also address the broader issue of sustainable development”: 3.
2. Each of these criteria draws heavily on language used originally in the Illulissat Declaration, though with important differences. For instance, while the Illulissat Declaration referred to the “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction” of the “five coastal states”, in the Council observer documentation, this has been broadened out to include all of the “Arctic states”. The Illulissat Declaration also described “an extensive international legal framework" that provided a “solid foundation for responsible management by the five coastal states” [emphasis added]. With whom responsibility for management lies is not specified in the Council documentation. The Senior Arctic Officials’ Report outlining the observer criteria was officially adopted by the Council in the Nuuk Declaration.
3. Various meetings of the ‘Arctic Five’ group have taken place. The first was convened by Denmark in 2008 and resulted in the Ilulissat Declaration. The second was held in Canada in 2010, reaffirming the joint position set out by the Illulissat Declaration: see Minister Cannon Highlights Canada’s Arctic Leadership at Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The most recent meeting of the ‘Arctic Five’ took place February 2014 in Greenland, where a temporary prohibition on commercial fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean was agreed: see Joint Statement – Recently Convened Five Arctic Ocean Coastal States Meeting.
4. See, for example, Iceland Protests a Meeting of 5 Arctic Council Member States in Canada. US Secretary of State Clinton’s statement at the 2010 Arctic Five meeting - that “significant international discussions on Arctic issues should include those who have legitimate interests in the region. And I hope the Arctic will always showcase our ability to work together, not create new divisions” – has been widely interpreted as indirect criticism of the decision to exclude Iceland, Finland and Sweden from the ‘Arctic Five’ meetings (Sheridan, 2010). Echoing this language, the Swedish Strategy for the Arctic Region (2011: 22) stated ‘An energised Arctic Council could reduce the need for the coastal states to drive forward issues in the Arctic Five format. It is important for Finland, Iceland and Sweden to be able to participate in decision-making in cases where they have legitimate interests and that the status of the Arctic Council is maintained.’ References
Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic. (2011).
Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.arctic-council.org/index.php/en/document-archive/category/20-main-documents-from-nuuk
Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. (2013).
Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.arctic-council.org/eppr/agreement-on-cooperation-on-marine-oil-pollution-preparednessand-response-in-the-arctic/
Antarctic Treaty. (1959). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.ats.aq/documents/recatt/att465e.pdf
Bloom, E. (1999). Establishment of the Arctic Council. American Journal of International Law 93(712). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/212368.pdfEuropean
Parliament Resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic Governance. (2008). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P6-TA-2008-0474&language=EN
Iceland Protests a Meeting of 5 Arctic Council Member States in Canada. (2010). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.mfa.is/news-and-publications/nr/5434.
Ilulissat Declaration. (2008). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.oceanlaw.org/downloads/arctic/IlulissatDeclaration.pdf
Joint Statement – Recently Convened Five Arctic Ocean Coastal States Meeting. (2014). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=index&crtr.page=1&nid=819859
Minister Cannon Highlights Canada's Arctic Leadership at Arctic Ocean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2014 from http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2010/120.aspx .
Nilsen, T. (2013). Finland Aims for Arctic Summit. Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://barentsobserver.com/en/arctic/2013/12/finland-aims-arctic-summit-04-12
NuukDeclaration. (2011). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://arctic-council.npolar.no/accms/export/sites/default/en/meetings/2011-nuuk-ministerial/docs/Nuuk_Declaration_FINAL.pdf
Office of the Prime Minister. (2013). Strategy for the Arctic Region. Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://vnk.fi/julkaisukansio/2013/j-14-arktinen-15-arktiska-16-arctic-17-saame/PDF/en.pdf
Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) Report to Ministers. (2011). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://library.arcticportal.org/1251/1/SAO_Report_to_Ministers_-_Nuuk_Ministerial_Meeting_May_2011.pdf
Sheridan, M. 2010. ‘Clinton Rebukes Canada at Arctic Meeting’. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032901626.html .
Sweden's Strategy for the Arctic Region. (2011). Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.government.se/content/1/c6/1/78/5/3baa039d.pdf
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