The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission, Legislative Arctic Committees, & Governor Walker’s Arctic Policy Effort
The GLACIER Conference & President Obama's Links to the Arctic
Lawson W. Brigham
The U.S. Department of State, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, hosted an improbable international Arctic conference in Anchorage, Alaska on 31 August 2015. That President Obama spoke at this conference, conducted a signature tour of Alaska, and became the first sitting U.S. President to visit above the Arctic Circle in Alaska made it an historic trip that emphasized the importance of the Arctic to America and the globe. It was very clear from the outset that the conference, together with the entire visit of the American leader to Alaska, was a political event organized to highlight the President’s climate change agenda in preparation for the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP21 (to be held 30 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris).
Interestingly, the U.S. is currently chair of the Arctic Council (to May 2017), the intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic states chartered in 1996. However, the State Department advised that the Anchorage venue was explicitly not an Arctic Council meeting. Nor was the gathering an official preparatory meeting for COP21.
On one hand the GLACIER (Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience) Conference was an international venue with the heads of delegation of 19 nations and the European Union joining Secretary Kerry in Anchorage to discuss Arctic climate change issues. Seven nations sent their foreign minister (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Republic of Korea, Netherlands,Norway and Sweden) to join Secretary Kerry and the remaining delegations were led by high-level representatives, many who represent non-Arctic states as Observers to the Arctic Council. In my judgment equally important is that this was a U.S. domestic political venue crafted to address three themes: remind Americans the United States is an Arctic nation; emphasize the importance of rapid Arctic climate change observed in Alaska; and, provide an opportunity for President Obama to speak with Alaskans and hold key meetings with indigenous people who live in America’s Arctic. The GLACIER Conference and the President’s visits to Seward, Dillingham and Kotzebue (a community located above the Arctic Circle on the Chukchi Sea) gained global media coverage highlighting a broad range of Arctic, Alaskan and global climate issues.
The GLACIER Conference – led by Secretary Kerry – was organized into three sets of sessions for the more than 400 participants: one for the foreign ministers and official delegations, and two for the experts, actors and stakeholders who were invited by the White House and State Department. The ‘Foreign Minister Sessions’ focused on three themes: The Arctic’s Unique Role in Influencing the Global Climate; Climate Resilience and Adaptation Planning; and, Strengthening Arctic Cooperation and Coordination on Ocean Stewardship, Environmental Protection, and Support to Local Communities.
A designated ‘Track A’ focused on an array of key Arctic community issues: Building the Resilience of Arctic Coastal Communities in the Face of Climate Change; Protecting Communities and the Environment through Climate and Air Quality Projects; and, Healthy Arctic Homes: Designing Structures for the 21st Century. ‘Track B’ sessions were focused on international challenges: Strengthening International Preparedness and Cooperation for Emergency Response; Preventing Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean; and, Strengthening Observation Networks.
GLACIER was opened by a Denai’na leader, Lee Stephen, First Chief of the native village government of Eklutna, Alaska who spoke of the more than 10,000 years of indigenous life in his ancestral region. He was followed by: Mayor Ethan Berkowitz of the host city Anchorage; Mayor Reggie Joule (an Inupiaq leader) of the Northwest Arctic Borough; Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallot (a Tlingit Indian from southeast Alaska); Dr. John Holdren, the President’s Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Policy; and, Admiral Robert J. Papp who is the U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic. Secretary Kerry completed the introductions by acknowledging Alaska was surely the place to be to discuss Arctic climate change issues, and noting that the GLACIER outcomes would help shape the COP21 discussions in Paris. Following the conference, the State Department issued a Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic that was from the United States, the attending Foreign Ministers, and other representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Poland, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Together they affirmed that “climate change poses a grave challenge to the Arctic and the world.” The statement noted that the many observed Arctic changes are at unprecedented rates and are impacting Arctic communities where adaptive management strategies and new infrastructure are imperatives. The group affirmed their strong determination to work together on addressing the challenges of a warming Arctic and planet.
President Obama’s speech came at the end of the GLACIER Conference and after he had met early in the afternoon with a group of Alaska Natives. After thanking all Alaskans for hosting the conference, he told the assembled international delegations that America was ready to work with their nations on the many challenges the Arctic presents. Select key passages from his remarks taken from The White House Press Release on 1 September 2015 include:
- We’re here today to discuss a challenge that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other … and that’s the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.
- The Arctic is the leading edge of climate change – our leading indicator of what the entire planet faces.
- Climate Change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here. It is happening now … And climate change is a trend that affects all trends – economic trends, security trends. Everything will be impacted.
- I’ve come here today, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating this problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it.
- We can have a legitimate debate about how we are going to address this problem; we cannot deny the science. We also know the devastating consequences if the current trend lines continue. That is not deniable.
- If we were to abandon our course of action, if we stop trying to build a clean-energy economy and reduce carbon pollution, if we do nothing to keep the glaciers from melting faster, and oceans from rising faster, and forests from burning faster, and storms from growing stronger, we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.
- On this issue, of all issues, there is such a thing as being too late. That moment is almost upon us. That’s why we’re here today. That’s what we have to convey to our people – tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. And that’s what we have to do when we meet in Paris later this year.
All who were present would confirm that it was an eloquent speech filled with candor about a hugely complex Arctic and global challenge. Sprinkled with examples of profound Arctic change – sea ice melting, permafrost thawing, glaciers retreating, increasingly acidic oceans, changing migration patterns, and eroding coastal communities – the speech indicated the President is well-prepared to argue all of these issues and more in some detail at COP21 in Paris.
As with most Presidential visits to a U.S. region or state, the administration in power announces a number of initiatives prior to and during such a visit to build political capital and create a legacy of action. One of the unanticipated and immediate decisions for the Alaska visit was made by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell who has authority over U.S. place names. With the President’s support, the name of the highest peak in North America was returned to Denali, the Athabascan name for ‘the high one.’ Re-establishing Denali in place of Mount McKinley has been argued for nearly four decades and this decision set a very positive tone for most Alaskans. It was announced that the Denali Commission (a federal body) would take the lead in coordinating new federal funds and competitive grants devoted to assisting villages that are heavily impacted by climate change. President Obama also announced several new federal investments to enhance safety and security in a changing Arctic: accelerating the acquisition of new U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers; action to be taken by NOAA and the Coast Guard to promote safe marine operations and transportation in the Arctic through mapping and charting of the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas; evaluating the feasibility of deepening and extending Nome’s harbor by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in view of making it America’s Arctic deep water port; launching a five-year demonstration project for Arctic marine biodiversity observing; and, hosting an international workshop on community-based ecological monitoring. Each of these select federal initiatives is consistent with current U.S. national Arctic strategies and implementation plans published since 2013.
A distinctly American event, nonetheless the GLACIER conference brought global attention to the Arctic. The visit of President Obama to Alaska and the Arctic reaffirmed America’s commitment to the region and brought his climate change message to the very place where change is most rapid and is directly impacting people.
For most Americans, as well as perhaps many around the globe, his speech and visit provided unprecedented attention to the Arctic by an American President.
The U.S. Must Live Up to Commitments as Arctic Nation
Rep. Rick Larsen
Interest in the Arctic is heating up around the world. As the region’s ice melts and it becomes more accessible to shipping traffic, Arctic nations like Russia and Canada are continuing to invest in infrastructure and research. Countries without Arctic borders, including China and Japan, also are expressing their interest in the region. China, for example, is currently building its second icebreaker.
It is clear that other countries are moving forward in the High North. But the U.S. is not keeping pace. Even as the U.S. took over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April 2015, we do not have the infrastructure that is necessary to live up to our responsibilities as an Arctic nation. President Obama’s GLACIER conference in August 2015 is a sign that attention to the Arctic is growing, but that attention must come with investment to be effective.
I am hopeful that during the U.S. chairmanship of the Council we will make progress on the strong priorities the U.S. State Department has defined. These include protecting the unique Arctic environment and the people and animals who live there, as well as improving our emergency response ability when ships get into trouble.
But the U.S. faces a steep opportunity curve when it comes to the Arctic, and we need to do more to fulfill our commitments. While most of my colleagues in Congress recognize that the U.S. has responsibilities as an Atlantic and Pacific nation, not everyone recognizes that we are also an Arctic nation. That needs to change. Before policymakers can make informed decisions about Arctic investments, they need to know why this area is so critical.
That is why I worked with Congressman Young from Alaska to start the Congressional Arctic Working Group. The Working Group seeks to help members of Congress better understand the opportunities and challenges for the U.S. as an Arctic nation, and it acts as a resource for other Arctic countries to interact with Congress.
Since its inception a year ago, the Working Group has raised awareness about the importance of the Arctic through events for Members and their staff to meet with Arctic officials from other Arctic nations, as well as a variety of stakeholders.
We held a discussion with Norway’s State Secretary, heard from Canada’s Senior Arctic Official about the recent Canadian Arctic Council chairmanship, and held a briefing with senior State Department officials to discuss the agenda for the U.S. chairmanship. The Working Group also hosted representatives of indigenous groups from Russia. Continuing international engagement with all the members of the Arctic Council is critical, and the Working Group is filling that role in Congress.
There are other steps the U.S. should take. Every Arctic nation except the U.S. has an ambassador-level position dedicated to Arctic affairs. The U.S. should join its peers by creating such a position, which is why I introduced a bill with Congressman Sensenbrenner to do just that. An Ambassador to the Arctic would help the U.S. better manage our many interests in the region, as well as signal our country’s commitment to international cooperation on Arctic policy.
The U.S. also does not have the icebreaking capability to fulfill research and commercial missions in the uniquely icy seas. The U.S. Coast Guard has said it needs at least three each of heavy and medium duty icebreakers. But currently the U.S. only has one of each, and other countries have jumped far ahead of us on this front. Russia is currently building its 23rd government-owned icebreaker. Without this capacity, the U.S. will be unable to fulfill the environmental protection, research, search and rescue, and interdiction operations the Coast Guard must perform in the Arctic.
Just because the Arctic is at a high latitude does not mean the U.S. should ignore it. Other countries certainly are paying attention. I am hopeful the Congressional Arctic Working Group will continue to bring more attention to a part of the world we cannot afford to neglect.
The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission, Legislative Arctic Committees, and Governor Walker's Arctic Policy Effort
Rep. Bob Herron
The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC) was legislatively created in April 2012 and its first meeting was March 23, 2013. The AAPC was comprised of 26 Commissioners, including 10 Legislators and 16 subject matter experts from throughout the state; and co-chaired by Senator Lesil McGuire and Representative Bob Herron. The AAPC was tasked with creating an actionable Arctic policy for Alaska – to produce a policy for Alaska’s Arctic that reflects the values of Alaskans and provides a suite of options to capitalize on the opportunities and safeguard against risks.
The AAPC emphasized public engagement, convening meetings in seven locations around the state over the course of two years and receiving testimony from local residents in each location. Alaskans from all walks of life positively influenced the AAPC’s Final Report and Implementation Plan released January 30, 2015 (www.akarctic.com).
The AAPC, by statute, concluded its work after the release of the Final Report and Implementation Plan. Per the recommendation of the AAPC, during the 2015 Legislative Session, the House and Senate each created their own Arctic Committee. The House Economic Development, Tourism and Arctic Policy Committee is chaired by Representative Bob Herron; the Senate Arctic Committee is co-chaired by Senators Lesil McGuire and Cathy Giessel. These committees have and will continue to meet both separately and jointly to further discuss and seek ways to execute the AAPC Implementation Plan.
The Implementation Plan includes 32 Strategic Recommendations organized into four Lines of Effort:
- Promote Economic & Resource Development
- Address the Response Capacity Gap
- Support Healthy Communities
- Strengthen Science & Research
Some examples of recommendations from each of these Four Lines of Effort:
- 1A - Facilitate the development of Arctic port systems in the Bering Strait region to support export, response and regional development.
- 1B - Strengthen or develop a mechanism for resource production-related revenue sharing to impacted communities.
- 2D - Facilitate and secure public and private investment in support of critical search and rescue, oil spill response and broader emergency response infrastructure
- 3B - Reduce power and heating costs in rural Alaskan Arctic communities.
- 3F - Enforce measures that protect and help further understanding of food security of Arctic peoples and communities.
- 4F - Invest in U.S. Arctic weather, water and ice forecasting systems.
- 4G - Update hydrocarbon and mineral resource estimates and mapping in the Alaskan Arctic.
The Implementation Plan has three target audiences and represents the playbook for Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s Administration and the Legislature, through the work of its Arctic Committees, and the federal government to implement Alaska’s Arctic Policy. In the Implementation Plan, each recommendation is assigned one or two departments or agencies as leads, and also includes suggestions for legislative actions to further the recommendation. As part of the Governor’s efforts, nearly every Administrative Department is involved in Arctic policy implementation – the undertaking is led by Craig Fleener, Governor’s Arctic Policy Adviser, and includes, among others, Commissioners from the Departments of Commerce, Community & Economic Development; Transportation & Public Facilities; and Environmental Conservation; as well as Mike Sfraga, Vice Chancellor from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
In addition, in late 2014 a team appointed by incoming Governor Walker authored, and is still committed to implementing, an Arctic Policy and Climate Change Transition Report: http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker_media/transition_page/arctic-policy-and-climate-change_final.pdf.
Alaska’s Arctic Policy now in statute
During the Fall of 2014, the AAPC collectively produced a draft Alaska Arctic Policy bill for consideration by the Legislature. The Legislature subsequently passed HB 1. After being heard and altered in several committees, the policy differs from the AAPC draft, but is substantively similar. The bill took effect August 9, 2015 and is codified in Alaska Statute 44.99.105. The policy consists of four pillars:
- Uphold the state’s commitment to economically vibrant communities sustained by development activities consistent with the state's responsibility for a healthy environment;
- Collaborate with all levels of government, tribes, industry, and nongovernmental organizations to achieve transparent and inclusive Arctic decision-making;
- Enhance the security of the Arctic region of the state and, thereby, the security of the entire state; and
- Value and strengthen the resilience of communities and respect and integrate the culture, language, and knowledge of Arctic peoples.
This law, now officially Alaska’s Arctic Policy, is intended as an overarching guide for the AAPC’s Implementation Plan.
Place Holding but Noteworthy: Canada & the Arctic Council
In 1996, Canada was the first of eight Member States to chair a newly-founded Arctic Council. From May 2013 to April 2015, Canada again resumed the chair (headed by the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Minister for the Arctic Council) and set “development for the people of the North” as the overall theme of its two years. To achieve this goal, Canada called for responsible Arctic resource development, safe Arctic shipping and sustainable circumpolar communities with subthemes under each of these three goals.1 Unique to Canada was the call to create an Arctic Economic Council (AEC)2 – a subgoal of responsible resource development. On the one hand, the focus Canada had directed on the people of the North is laudable and perfectly in keeping with the mandate of the Council. On the other hand, the creation of the AEC has been divisive. How should we evaluate this agenda? Did Canada’s Chairmanship break new ground or was it just caretaking?
The Arctic Council cannot be expected to make grand pronouncements or oversee the creation of new international agreements3 every year; it is voluntarily funded and has only recently benefited from the creation of a permanent secretariat. Canada’s agenda promoted the continuation of many projects initiated under previous Chairs and oversaw the unanimous decision to not accept new Observers for a constellation of reasons including the ratio of Arctic states and Permanent Participants (the decision makers) to Observers which is 14:32 or 1 to 2.
From an administrative point of view, Canada’s enthusiasm for the Arctic Council was uneven. The final meeting of its Chairmanship held in Iqaluit April 24-25, 2015 was prepared months in advance although some final details were last minute. As well, Canada has been reluctant to acknowledge Observer states’ concerns about the diverse costs of engaging with the Arctic Council without the benefit of influence over decisions.
Canada achieved its goal to create an Arctic Economic Council (which met in Ottawa for its 2nd meeting on 23 April 2015) despite uneven support by some members of the Council. The AEC comprises business representatives (to date, 42 members in total) solely from the eight Arctic states and six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations of the AC. The AEC selected a US chair (from the Inuit Circumpolar Council) and two vice chairs from Russia and Finland to guide its work. Big businesses, like the Baffinland Iron Mines Limited and PAO Sovcomflot (SCF Group), Russia’s largest shipping company, are likely to dominate the membership. The AEC’s businesses, which include a mix of very small and giant companies, and the lack of participation by Observer state companies, are glaring flaws. The “success” of the AEC will likely depend a great deal on commodity prices given the involvement of big resource-driven business with international focus and is unlikely to benefit local, traditional/subsistence businesses that are important to the economic sustainability and cultural well-being of Arctic hamlets.
Meanwhile, the Working Groups of the Arctic Council continued to do some very important work indeed. The SAO’s Report to Ministers (24 April 2015) outlines their progress.5 Projects over the course of Canada’s term included a Circumpolar Mental Wellness Symposium (thanks to Canada’s particular push for this event) and a review of cancer among indigenous peoples. A framework plan for Cooperation on the Prevention of Oil Pollution from Petroleum and Maritime Activities in the Marine Areas of the Arctic, a framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions, and an Arctic Marine Strategic Plan for 2015-2025 were all approved in April. The Council also established two new task forces: the Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation, and the Task Force on Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic.
Volunteer funding from member and Observer states, however, makes planning of these multi-year projects a challenge. That the Working Groups are still functioning, especially given background geopolitical tensions involving Russia, Eastern Europe and five NATO Arctic Council member states, is probably the greatest of Canada’s achievements despite sometimes contradictory political rhetoric on the part of Canada. Likely a full evaluation of Canada’s Chairmanship will only be possible in comparison to the US term focused on “One Arctic” which, as currently outlined, tackles the very important but difficult issue of climate change, at least under the current US administration. That a four-year North American agenda was not coordinated similar to the six-year Scandinavian terms to benefit from longer-term planning is lamented. That the Arctic Council continues to promote cooperation (reaffirmed in the Iqaluit Declaration 2015)7 and has weathered recent, jarring geopolitical tensions means that Canada’s modest, place holding Chairmanship is noteworthy.
International Meeting of the AC Member States in September 2015 in Archangelsk
The V [Fifth] International Meeting of Representatives of the States-Members of the Arctic Council, States-Observers and Foreign Scientific Community took place on September 15-16, 2015 in Archangelsk, Russia. The meeting was specially devoted to preparedness and safety in the Arctic, sustainable development and indigenous peoples. It consisted of two parts, the demonstration of rescue exercises by the EMERCOM Arctic Emergency Centre in Arkhangelsk, and the international conference “Ensuring Safety and Sustainable Development in the Arctic Region, Preservation the Ecosystems and Traditional Way of Life of the Indigenous Peoples in the North”.
The high-level meeting was organized under the auspices of the Russian Federation Security Council in cooperation with the Northern (Arctic) Federal University, NArFU in Archangelsk. NArFU invited members of small international delegations from the Arctic states and the Arctic Council observer countries, as it did last year, when this annual meeting took place in Naryan-Nar, and the Varandei Oil Terminal in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
The demonstration of rescue exercises by Arkhangelsk’s EMERCOM Arctic Emergency Centre took place on a sunny afternoon on the Dvina river just beside downtown Arkhangelsk. We had front row seats to follow the exercise, since we were on board of the 2N.V.Gogol” paddle steamship in the middle of the river. The situation and accident was simple but realistic: there was a fire on board of a tanker, and a few crew members of the tanker were dropped down to the sea, when they tried to put out the fire. Following from this, the mission of the exercise was two-fold: on the one hand, to put out the fire, which was done both by a helicopter and aircraft dropping water from the tanks on the fire, and a rescue-vessel spray water on; and on the other hand, to rescue the crew members from the sea, which was done by surface divers who were dropped onto the water from a helicopter. The mission was accomplished, the fire went down and the crew members were rescued. I am not an expert on the field – though I followed another rescue exercise last August (2014) at the Priratzlomnaya Oil Rig in the Pechora Sea - but I was impressed by how efficiently all parties acted and fulfilled their tasks (of course so often in a real situation the sun is not shining and the conditions can be very harsh).
The international conference (with a long official name) was divided into three sessions based on a theme, “Personal preparation and training for the Arctic development and global Arctic projects”, “Strengthening of the international cooperation in the preservation of the ecosystems and environmental protection of the Arctic” and “Conservation of the traditional life-styles and maintenance of sustainable development of indigenous population of the Arctic territories”. Each agenda item had a short film and an oral report as an introduction, and were followed by interventions from the participants. There were very many of these short (about 5 minutes) interventions in each session, and as so often, only little time for open discussion. Thus, the challenge was first, how to express all relevant matters within that short time frame; second, how to manage to get the audience’s attention, when your presentation was at the end of a list of speakers; and finally, how to keep the interest and intensity going at the end of a long day.
Well, I don’t know how accurate this evaluation is, but I have a feeling that the intensity was on until the end. And though some presentations were neither that interesting nor new, there were many interesting presentations (yes, there was a simultaneous interpretation from Russian to English, and from English to Russian, and the interpreters were professionals). Thus, there was much to be learned as a foreigner, and the other way round, the Russians learned many new things from us, foreigners. In a time of turbulence, as it is now in international politics, it is very useful to know what the others, including your potential rivals, are thinking, and let the others know, what you think. And furthermore, demonstrate that you are ready to listen and learn new ways to do things, and maybe even apply new methods and new kind of thinking.
My presentation was in the 2nd session devoted to international cooperation to preserve the Arctic ecosystem and strengthen cooperation. Unlike a few of my academic colleagues, I didn’t use my short time, although it is important and timely, to introduce any new academic and educational project, or to try to convince others how joint efforts in research and higher education would benefit policy-making in the Arctic. I went straight to the point which I thought would interest most of the audience – policy-makers from regional and federal levels of Russia, and from many Arctic Council member and Observer countries: why it is so important to maintain the high stability of the Arctic region, and how it would be beneficial for the entire Arctic region and its peoples.
Indeed, how come have the prognoses of emerging conflicts in, or a ‘scramble’ for, the Arctic not, yet, been materialized? And why is this achieved, man-made Arctic stability so resilient? An answer lies in the fact that the stable and cooperative Arctic is so valuable for its states and peoples in the era of globalization. The post-Cold War period has been successful due to the shift from military confrontation into political stability and growing international cooperation – there are only winners. This is seen for example, in how the Kingdom of Denmark and Russian Federation played, and play, according to the rules of UNCLOS, when they submitted their proposals on the Arctic Ocean’s shelves to the Commission – the proposals compete, the states cooperate. This shows the power of immaterial values, such as peace, human capital and that of cumulative, ‘soft’ methods in politics and governance (which is seen for example, by the self-governing status of Greenland, Nordic devolution, policy-shaping by the Arctic Council, paradiplomacy, and implementation of the interplay between science and politics). These are among the ways that we have managed to maintain the received state of political stability and willingness to cooperate, much needed preconditions for sustaining Arctic research.
This goes a long way to demonstrating the social relevance of science, which is also called ‘science diplomacy’, i.e. that science is more than laboratories and theories, it is people, societies, the environment. This includes the interplay between science, politics and economics, and this has been implemented in the Arctic for some time now. The International Meeting of Representatives of the States-Members of the Arctic Council, States-Observers and Foreign Scientific Community is a good example of a platform, where it is both intended to happen, and it is happening. This clearly came out in several presentations and comments, though there was too little time for open discussion (this seems to be a universal ‘bottleneck’ for the sharing of thoughts and ideas), as well as in smaller social contacts during the two days.
A new Arctic security and political agenda is emerging due to the reflections of regional wars, the constant warfare against international terror, and flows of globalization, as well as due to ‘Grand challenges’ as main drivers, such as long-range pollution and climate change, and ethical questions concerning mass-scale utilization. Here the Arctic states and their state-owned enterprises will strongly influence future development by choosing either to prioritize business activities only, or adopt a more holistic approach by taking into consideration the commitments to environmental protection and wellbeing of the inhabitants, as the Arctic states promised almost 20 years ago, when the Arctic Council was established.
The answer cannot, however, be simply more mass-scale utilization by extractive industries, but also smaller and soft ways, as many Arctic actors have shown being able to be innovative and resilient. For that we need on the one hand, more and deeper interdisciplinary research, and on the other hand, keener cooperation between policy-makers from the Arctic states and the AC Observer states under the auspices of the Arctic Council. Now when the post-Cold War era has come to a close in the Arctic, and the region has become a part of global (political, economic, technological, environmental and societal) changes, this is not enough, I am afraid. Hence, it has become more demanding to maintain this stability and strengthen cooperation. We need more meetings, such as the 2015 Archangelsk meeting and the annual Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, where the interplay between science, politics and economics/business takes place.
Yukon as a Regional and Circumpolar Actor
Hon. Currie Dixon
As the Arctic and its variety of governance institutions and intergovernmental forums have gained significant international attention, sub-national governments in the circumpolar north have begun to play an increasingly important role on the international stage. While high level foreign policy and international relations continue to be in the realm of national governments, sub-nationals like provinces, territories, states, autonomous regions, First Nations and Aboriginal governments are participating and interacting in many new ways. While this involvement is a welcome step forward, enhanced roles for sub-national governments should come with some greater scrutiny and analysis of their respective positions and policies. Such a review will elucidate why and how sub-national governments conduct themselves outside of their own borders and may reveal observations not only about how these governments are viewed by others, but how they view themselves.
As an initial contribution to this end, the Yukon provides interesting subject matter. I would argue that the Yukon adopts and assumes multiple identities as it conducts its business outside of its territorial borders. It would seem that there are four such identities, which are defined by the Yukon’s geography, economy, population, and political institutions.
First and foremost, Yukon is quite clearly an Arctic territory. It participates actively in intergovernmental Arctic forums like the Arctic Council and the Northern Forum. During Canada’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2013-2015), Yukon led Canadian efforts on Arctic Council Working Groups, typically focusing on issues related to climate change research and adaptation. Notably, Yukon spearheaded the development of the Arctic Adaptation Exchange information portal. On the international stage, Yukon has a decidedly Arctic identity.
Secondly, regarding the structure of the economy, Yukon seems very much pacific-northwestern. Its economic reliance on natural resource development and tourism focuses Yukon’s interest on border and trade issues, labour mobility, and access to resource-hungry Asian markets. For these reasons Yukon is an active participant in the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER). Like its PNWER colleagues Yukon tends to cast its economic gaze to the Pacific.
Third, Yukon’s relatively small population significantly influences its role in Canadian confederation. On many intra-Canadian matters Yukon has much in common with other members of confederation with small populations. At Federal-Provincial-Territorial meetings on subjects like internal trade, regional economic development, or capital markets regulation, Yukon often aligns its policy positions with the Atlantic Provinces who share similar challenges. So in this sense, Yukon’s identity within Canada is defined to a degree by its small population.
Finally, Yukon’s most obvious identity is as a northern Canadian territory. As a result of devolution the Yukon functions as a province in all but name, but its federal funding and unique constitutional status set it apart. It is a leader in Aboriginal-State relations with First Nations land claims and selfgovernment having altered the foundation of its political architecture. These realities influence how Yukon interacts with its regional neighbours, particularly on issues of trans-boundary renewable resource management. While it is exceedingly obvious, Yukon’s identity as a territory has an undeniable role in how Yukon conducts itself outside of its borders.
Like all sub-national governments in the circumpolar north the Yukon is dynamic and multifaceted. Its geography, economy, population and political institutions all influence how it is perceived by others, and how it perceives itself. Recognizing and understanding these identities help explain its policies and positions, and how and why it conducts itself on the international, national, and regional stage. This is particularly important given the increasing role of sub-national governments in the Arctic and circumpolar north. As the relevance of sub-national governments like Yukon ascend, so too should the scrutiny, analysis and understanding of what makes them tick.
Greenland’s Election 2014: A Return to Pragmatism
Following the resignations of Greenlandic Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond and four other ministers due to allegations of misuse of public funds, an extraordinary election was held on 28 November 2014. Under the new leadership of Kim Kielsen, Hammond’s own social-democratic party, Siumut (‘Forward’) won the highest proportion of votes (34.6%), narrowly beating the nationalist/left-socialist party Inuit Ataqatigiit (‘Community of the People’) by a 1.1% margin. Both parties won eleven seats in Parliament. In order to secure the minimum of 16 seats needed to hold power in Parliament, Siumut has subsequently entered into coalition with two of Greenland’s smaller parties – social-liberal Demokraatit (‘Democrat’) and conservative Atassut ('Solidarity'). Both share Siumut’s stance in favour of economic liberalism.
From this outcome, it is possible to draw some lessons about the Greenlandic political landscape which are often overlooked by international commentators and audiences alike.
First, the Siumut party remains the long-standing, powerful, and dominant force in Greenlandic politics, regardless of how any individual leader, member, or group of members allegedly (mis)conducts themselves from time to time. While support for Siumut did suffer in the wake of the allegations against Hammond, in the end the party still managed to maintain its edge over its rivals, and, with it, the right to form government. This result is more than simply good luck on Siumut’s part; at every single election since 1979 bar one, it has been Siumut which has formed government. This long, consistent experience of campaigning, governing and manoeuvring places Siumut in a highly advantageous position, within a political system where other parties split, reform, are born, or die on a quite frequent basis. Even in coalition, Siumut’s large size has ensured it has exercised – and continues to exercise – a pre-eminent influence over the direction and shape of the Greenlandic political scene.
The way in which Siumut achieved its electoral victory highlights a second lesson – namely, the importance of matching the personality, character and background of the leader with the mood of the electorate. This is particularly so in countries of small population size, where the social, personal and family links between ruler and ruled are so entwined. It is no accident that, in the aftermath of Hammond’s expenses scandal, a well-regarded, former policeman with a reputation for integrity, honesty and down-to-earth pragmatism was appointed Siumut’s acting leader. Kielsen’s more modest style stands in stark contrast to Hammond’s, with the controversial topics of Greenlandic independence and natural resource exploitation as the leitmotif of her premiership. While we can expect Kielsen’s government to remain interested in future drilling and mining opportunities, it is likely that this interest will be counterbalanced by a renewed emphasis on boosting profits from existing industries firmly grounded in Greenland’s economic present. Such emphasis is likely to include expanding value-added activities in Greenland’s allimportant fishing industry, and improving the infrastructure needed to in support of the growing tourism sector. Initiatives addressing other, everyday social issues of concern throughout the electorate – such as housing, education and unemployment – are also likely.
The final lesson to keep in mind is that, like other electorates of small population size, Greenland cannot afford to dispose of its political leaders too quickly, or without serious cause. Since the expenses scandal broke, the funds Hammond allegedly spent on personal costs have been repaid. In June 2015, Hammond was elected to one of two seats in the Danish Parliament reserved for Greenlandic representatives; she received the most personal votes of any of the candidates. At least one political consultancy firm is not willing to rule out a return by Hammond to Greenlandic politics sometime in the future. It may be that if Kielsen succeeds in delivering financial gains in the short-term from Greenland’s already-established economic sectors, there might be a real opportunity later on to pursue Hammond’s grand visions of the future. For now, however, Greenland remains a country under construction’.
Future Greenland 2015: Tourism as the Future of Greenland?
Lill Rastad Bjørst
Every second year the Greenlandic Business Association hosts a two-day conference entitled “Future Greenland” in Nuuk.1 The main theme of this year’s conference was “Growth and Welfare – Scenarios for the Development of Greenland.” The conference had more than 400 participants – mostly from Denmark and Greenland – but the format of the conference seems to be opening up for international business partners. This year’s conference facilitated a dialogue in Greenlandic, Danish and English. Next year even more interpreters will be needed. To strengthen the outreach, the conference was broadcasted live via KNR (Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa – Greenlandic Broad-casting Corporation) to the rest of Greenland which made the confer-ence even more impor-tant as a platform for dialogue on the future of Greenland.
One of the important themes of the conference was the severe economic situation of Greenland and an evaluation of the absence of the promised “mineral adventure.”
According to the Greenlandic geologist Ole Christiansen, former Managing Director of NunaMinerals, Greenland is still not a competitive mining country and missed its chance when the prices on minerals were good a few years ago. A representative from the Danish business community, Managing Director for PensionDanmark Torben Möger Pedersen, characterized the upcoming mineral sector in Greenland as a risky investment and was advocating for minimizing what he called “political risk.” Managing Director from the confederation of Danish Industry Karsten Dybvad likewise identified Greenland’s structural problems as critical and compared the economic situation that Greenland is faced at the moment, to the one Denmark experienced in the 1980’s. What the Danish keynote speakers asked for was that the Greenlandic Parliament would facilitate a more stable investment climate and go for the longtime planning, so investors knew what to expect. Dybvad said “All over the world we have to ask ourselves – what are we going to live from in the future?” This is now the current problem for Greenland.
Tourism in the Arctic: a low hanging fruit?
As a solution to the “problem”, investment in existing industries was mentioned in most of the talks (like fishing, tourism and entrepreneurship). Experiences from Iceland with mass tourism was presented and while the politicians in Greenland right now believe in development in the tourism sector as the “low hanging fruit” the industry identifies a lot of challenges. The director of the Icelandic Tourism Research Center, Edward Huijbens recommended a more conservative approach to tourism development. For tourism development to be to the benefit of Greenland, he said that it needs to be driven by the interest of the local industry. Managing Director of Visit Greenland, Anders Steenbakken chaired a workshop with the title “While we are waiting for the investments” centered on how tourism could develop in the long run. He mentioned that Greenland of course needed a better infrastructure and basic knowledge of “tourist reasons to go” was the key to development in the Greenlandic tourism sector. The workshop was aiming at encouraging the Greenlandic business community to think of new innovative ways to support the tourism sector and via entrepreneurship to develop new products and platforms for corporation.
The minister for Industry, Labour and Trade, Vittus Qujaukitsoq (Siumut) has recently developed a plan to simulate the tourism sector in Greenland. The themes are: 1. Infrastructure, 2. Tax structure, 3. Framework conditions and 4. Tourism concessions. “It has to be easy and not too expensive to travel around the country”, he said to the business magazine Aurora before the conference (Holmsgaard 2015: 18). To solely stage tourism as the savior and fixer of the economy is problematic because future tourism development is challenged by a number of factors in Greenland. In 2014, a report produced by the large Nordic consultancy firm of Rambøll identified the most important factors as being a short tourism season, a lack of infrastructure, the current limited capacity, the low standards of customer service, low growth rate, a lack of package tours, the low average of overnight stays (only four in average) the low spending per tourist (1.100 kroner per day), the low priority and lack of concrete initiatives by the Government of Greenland, the lack of online information about the destination and the difficulties with internal and external coordination in the Greenlandic tourism sector (Rambøll 2014: 40-52). The report was meant to inform an ongoing debate on how many mines and mega industrial projects Greenland should tolerate in the future. Tourism in this context was turned into a strategic tool to achieve a more sustainable future for Greenland with permanent local jobs and development (Rambøll 2014: 5-7). In other words, despite challenges in the management, infrastructure and legal framework in tourism (National Turismestrategi 2013), investments in the tourism sector was framed in this logic as opposed to investments in mining (Bjørst & Ren 2015). The Greenlandic politicians seem to be most keen on improving the infrastructure, and tourism is used as the key driver for arguments about new runways and ports but an investment in tourism is needed and has been needed for many years, especially in the south of Greenland.
Following the debate at the former and this year’s Future Greenland Conference, it is a paradox, that arguing for a megaproject is imagined to be the only way of getting regional development. While planning for the big project everything else was a secondary priority. This might change now. At the Future Greenland 2015 Conference there was a feeling of anticlimax and disappointment after the prices of minerals and oil declined. Everybody is now looking for new possibilities in other sectors. A new Greenlandic tourism strategy is being developed at the moment and hopefully supported financially by all parties. Without resources, local capacity building, innovation and entrepreneurship, to reach out to mass tourism could be fixing one ‘problem’ with just another one. More rehearsal with “small scale” projects is needed.
With the preparation for the Arctic Winter Games 2016, all the important elements for innovation, logistic sand capacity building for the future of Greenland can be tried out as part of a tourism related real life event.
The Arctic Council Permanent Participants: Capacity & Support - Past, Present & Future
The six Indigenous organizations which are the Permanent Participants (PPs) of the Arctic Council (AC) are as varied as the people, geographic regions, and cultures they represent. What they do have in common however is the challenge of representing their constituencies and contributing to the work of an ever expanding AC which in many cases has grown faster than the PPs have been able to adapt.
Indigenous organizations have been involved in international work through entities like the United Nations since long before the AC existed, so given that this voice was present and the growing realization among industry, policy makers, and scientists that Indigenous knowledge could not only be useful, but in many cases was essential to understanding the Arctic. Not only this, but in many cases Indigenous peoples were actually land owners and rights holders in the Arctic, and so consultation, negotiation, and agreement with the people who lived on the land was often a matter of law.
So, in the earliest seed of the AC, the Rovaniemi Process, the notion that the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic should have a seat at the table was present. When the Rovaniemi Process was formalized into an agreement among the eight Arctic states to form the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) three organizations were established as observers when the following was stated:
In order to facilitate the participation of Arctic indigenous peoples the following organizations will be invited as observers: the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Nordic Saami Council and the U.S.S.R. Association of Small Peoples of the North.
During this period it was recognized that the Indigenous organizations taking part in the AEPS would benefit from the support of a secretarial body, and so in 1994 the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (IPS) was created to assist the Indigenous observer organizations in their work in the AEPS, primarily through communications and coordination. Two years later when the AEPS was enlarged and mandated with additional responsibilities it became the Arctic Council. At that time the role of Indigenous peoples organizations was also expanded when the category of Permanent Participant (PP) was created. The PPs were endowed with full consultative powers and a seat in all AC matters, only lacking an actual vote from putting them on exactly equal footing with the Arctic states. However, this notion that the PPs have a seat, but not a vote is too simplistic. In reality, in an organization like the AC that operates on the principle of consensus, only a no vote that breaks consensus matters. So that means that while the PPs can’t break consensus and keep an initiative from moving forward, in my experience there has never been an occasion when one or more of the PPs had serious reservations that weren’t addressed by an effort to reach consensus that included the PPs. The implications of this are plain, it’s essential that the PPs not only have the resources to be present during discussions of matters that affect them, but that those resources support the participation of those with the proper knowledge and expertise.
With the recognition of the Arctic member states that participation of Arctic Indigenous peoples is so vital to the work of the AC the question of how to properly support this participation emerges, and clearly this has been on the mind of the AC since its very inception when it was stated in the first Iqaluit Declaration:
Request Arctic States to consider the financial questions involved in securing the participation of the Permanent Participants in the work of the Arctic Council and in the operations of the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat.
And every declaration since has mentioned support of the PPs. So when the Kiruna Declaration which signaled the end of the Swedish Chairmanship stated, “…identifying approaches to support the active participation of Permanent Participants, and to present a report on their work at the next Ministerial meeting in 2015,” the ministers mandate resulted in very positive steps to seriously work on PP capacity and support which occurred during the Canadian Chairmanship which followed.
It should be noted that PP capacity and support is a complicated issue for a number of reasons; the six PP organizations are all very different in size, structure, and how they are funded; in addition, the PPs have differing relationships with the Arctic states in which their memberships reside and so, for instance, the relationship that Aleut International Association has with the United States is different than what the Saami Council experiences with the Norwegian government in terms of support. This doesn’t change the fact that all of the PPs do have similar challenges in trying to contribute to the work of the AC, and to serve their constituencies in that regard and so work to address these common elements can be beneficial to all of the PP’s. Also, the question of PP support has received attention from the AC at various times including a comprehensive report undertaken during the Icelandic Chairmanship that recommended, among other actions, the establishment of a PP support fund to be funded by the Arctic states and a recommended operating balance of $1,000,000 USD.
Later, during the Swedish Chairmanship, another report was funded by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation which had two main recommendations: to establish a task force during the Canadian Chairmanship to propose practical measures to address the challenges over the long term, including revisiting the idea of a PP core fund; and for the Arctic states to make short term commitments to support the PPs in all of the activities of the AC during the Canadian and U.S. chairmanships.
The work which took place during the Canadian Chairmanship began with another study funded by the Government of Canada which stopped short of making firm recommendations, but again examined the concept of a PP core fund as well as potential support from AC observers. Following the release of the report a one day workshop was held in conjunction with the first SAO meeting October of 2014 in Yellowknife, NWT. The well attended workshop resulted in a decision to establish a small committee to examine and make recommendations on four areas of focus; 1) Observer funding of PP working group projects and an examination of potential exceptions to the “50% funding rule,” 2) To consider PP participation at the beginning of AC projects, 3) Enhancing capacity through and examination of business efficiencies in the AC; and 4) Explore additional AC Secretariat resources to support the PPs.
Concurrent with the efforts of the Canadian Chairmanship the idea of a PP core fund was again brought up by an Observer organization, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which not only suggested establishing such a fund that would be administered by the six PP organizations through the IPS, but also committed to contributing to such a fund to improve PP capacity.
Subsequently a three day PP support and capacity “summit” was held in March 2015, in Whitehorse, Yukon. The workshop, which was also funded by the Government of Canada, brought representatives from all six of the PP organizations together with the idea of examining how a PP core fund would actually work in practice. Also attending were representatives from the Government of Canada and the IPS (which organized the workshop). In addition, presentations from potential funders were made by the Gordon Foundation, Tides Canada (also representing the Arctic Funders Group), and NEFCO on the ACs Project Support Instrument (PSI). The meeting was very productive and resulted in the conclusion that two types of support funds were actually needed: 1) A core fund designed to contribute to PP administrative expenses, and designed to allow a contributor to generally support the work of all of the PPs with in a simple and transparent way, and 2) A project support fund which would allow contributors to donate funds to specific areas of interest (for example, Arctic marine issues), or to PP organizations located in certain geographic areas. The concept was that the core fund would be distributed to each PP organization equally, but that PPs would apply for project support funds and that funding decisions would be made by a governing body, potentially the IPS Board. The meeting also produced a PP Agreement in Principle on the founding of the funds, draft language regarding the meeting outcomes for the Iqaluit Declaration, and a work plan for moving forward.
At the 9th AC Ministerial meeting (again in Iqaluit) in April 2015 the following language was included in the Ministerial Declaration:
Acknowledge that the work of the Arctic Council continues to evolve to respond to new opportunities and challenges in the Arctic, reaffirm existing mechanisms and commit to identifying new approaches to support the active participation of Permanent Participants, and welcome the work done by Permanent Participants to establish a funding mechanism to strengthen their capacity.
During the Ministerial meeting the PPs also held a side event with AC observers to outline the plan for the two PP support funds in addition to a discussion of the role that Observers might play in the support of the PP organizations. Given that the criteria for Observer status in the AC calls for a political willingness and financial capacity to support the work of the PPs in the AC, it seems clear that part of the solution to PP support and capacity may fall with the Observers.
As the AC moves on to the U.S. Chairmanship, the work on PP capacity and support continues. WWF has again expressed its willingness to not only contribute to a PP core fund, but also to support the work needed to establish such a fund legally, and so an RFP to experts in this area has been produced, and at the time of the writing of this article is about to be distributed. In addition, at least one other Observer has made a verbal commitment to contribute to the fund once established, so it seems like there is at least a possibility that the fund could become a reality and assist in improving PP capacity. It also seems clear that the Arctic member states of the AC are unlikely to support the PPs through such a funding mechanism, instead preferring to continue the direct relationship with their constituent PPs that has existed since earliest days of the AC.
The Arctic Coast Guard Forum: A Welcome and Important Step
In October 2015, the eight Arctic states will send their heads of coast guard or equivalent official delegation to the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where the Commandant of the Coast Guard will host a ceremonial summit and the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF) will be formally launched. A terms of reference document that outlines the basic framework of the ACGF will be finalized at the summit signatory meeting, and this will serve as the foundation for a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC). The MOC will become the non-binding document that establishes the ACGF as an international body with rules and organizational responsibilities.
This moment will mark the advancement of a commitment on the part of all Arctic states to cooperate at the operational level in the maritime Arctic. The operational level is where the rubber meets the road: where missions are executed afloat and in port, where helicopters are scrambled, inspections carried out, and incident response units deployed. While high-level diplomacy gets more attention, the kind of inter-service relationship-building at the operational level promised by the ACGF can lead to immediate benefits to Arctic communities and stakeholders.
The ACGF is a welcome step. At a time when the region is facing unprecedented challenges, including warming that is occurring at a rapid pace, the establishment of the ACGF is a concrete sign that Arctic nations are committed to cooperation in the North, despite other differences. Recognizing that increasing access to the Arctic Ocean will increase the demands placed upon Arctic states for the scarce operational resources available in this remote region to respond to missions such as search and rescue, as well as enforcement of regulations pertaining to environmental protection, fishing, and vessel safety, the ACGF will provide a forum where Arctic states can build cooperation and leverage available resources to maximize operational effectiveness. The ACGF will build on existing Atlantic and North Pacific Coast Guard Forums, and will be operationally focused and consensus based. While independent of the Arctic Council, the ACGF will be complimentary to AC efforts.
Through building relationships at the operational level, as well as sharing best practices and lessons learned, Arctic coast guards can improve their individual mission fulfillment as well as refine cooperative responses to incidents that require a multi-lateral response. The ACGF offers practical benefits to all Arctic nations, especially those with large search and rescue territories as defined in the 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue treaty.
The ACGF is not only welcome, but important. The extreme conditions and distances present in the Arctic maritime region, particularly across North America and Russian coasts, pose significant challenges to efficient execution of coast guard missions. Several recent incidents of note demonstrate that the dangers of the Arctic region argue forcefully for coordinated international response capacities. For example, the extended transit of a Canadian barge, which drifted over 1,300 miles from Canadian waters, through US waters, before reaching Russian waters where it was finally retrieved,1 demonstrates not only the challenges present in the region, but also the critical importance of building strong working relationships between all Arctic coast guard agencies at the operational level. Another example, the sinking of the South Korean fishing vessel, the Oryong 501, which sank in heavy seas in December 2014, triggered an international response including US and Russian parties along with South Korean vessels.2 While the Oryong 501 sank in the Russian SAR zone, the proximity and capability of US Coast Guard assets led to a response including USCG assets, working with Russian and South Korean authorities.
The examples above should make clear that grave incidents occur in the Arctic, and as maritime traffic increases and weather patterns become (even) less predictable as the climate continues to destabilize, their frequency is likely to increase. With this in mind, the establishment of the ACGF can be applauded as a concrete step that will bring the Arctic states together to respond collaboratively to a challenge that involves them all. The establishment of the ACGF will further advance the interests of all Arctic states in ensuring safe and sustainable vessel traffic in the Arctic region.
Getting Arctic Shipping Back on Course
Clive Tesar, Rod Downie, & Simon Walmsley
In Iqaluit earlier this year, a clutch of ministers from Arctic states welcomed progress made on the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the ‘Polar Code’), an International Maritime Organization (IMO) instrument to regulate shipping in Arctic and Antarctic waters. The ministers noted that the progress followed “extensive engagement by the Arctic States.” The ministers were right to welcome the progress made. The Polar Code, expected to be implemented in 2017, will for the first time introduce mandatory, polar-specific requirements for cargo vessels over 500GT and passenger vessels operating in polar waters. It is anticipated that it will lead to improved safety in Arctic shipping, with provisions on such things as training for senior officers, the requirement for a polar operations manual and polar operations certificate, and rules for different classes of ships according to their ability to operate in ice. As pointed out in a report commissioned by the Arctic Council’s PAME working group, improved safety measures reduce oil pollution risks. What the ministers did not point out that day is that the Polar Code can still do so much more to reduce the risks of impacts from shipping and protect the Arctic marine environment.
A necessary next step for the Code is to extend it to smaller vessels, as so far it only applies to larger vessels. So-called SOLAS (named for the international convention on Safety of Life at Sea) vessels are ships larger than 500 gross tonnes, commercial and passenger ships. How many of the other sorts of ships currently operate in the Arctic, or their impact, is not well known. Several national delegations at IMO have asked for a paper giving information on the number of “non-SOLAS” ships operating in polar waters and reports of accidents and incidents, including those requiring search and rescue operations.
WWF, as part of a coalition of NGOs, believes there is still an opportunity to strengthen the Polar Code by addressing significant omissions including addressing non-ice strengthened vessels, smaller cargo and fishing vessels, and widening the scope of the environmental provisions. There are a number of omissions that affect the environmental impact from shipping in the north, including better oil and chemical spill preparedness and response, sewage and grey water discharge, and specific vessel routing measures. Here, we will focus on just three: heavy fuel oils; black carbon emissions; and the introduction of alien species through ballast and biofouling.
The use and carriage of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) presents one of the biggest risks to the Arctic marine environment. The Arctic Ocean Assessment identified the release of oil through spills or operational/illegal discharges as the most significant threat from ships in the Arctic. HFO is a very thick, viscous oil – what is left over when you’ve skimmed off the higher grade fuels. It accounts for three-quarters of the fuel used in Arctic shipping. The Arctic environment is particularly vulnerable to both operational and accidental spills of this kind of oil. It degrades slowly under Arctic conditions, the evaporation and dispersion rates are low compared to lighter, refined fuels, it may emulsify once released into the marine environment, and it is impossible to clean up in ice covered conditions and with a lack of nearby response resources and infrastructure. It has a devastating effect on marine life, particularly as Arctic marine food webs are so simple. Due in part to lack of good quality hydrogeographic data, the chance of a catastrophic spill exists, and will be magnified with projected increased Arctic shipping. The effects of a spill of HFO in polar environments are rightly feared. The carriage and use (including for ballast) of this fuel has been banned in Antarctic waters south of 60 degrees south, and around parts of the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. But it continues to be used in the Arctic as a shipping fuel, and to be transported around the Arctic for other uses. Even at 2012 levels of Arctic shipping, a report prepared for the PAME working group estimated, “…a serious accident resulting in an oil spill could on average be expected once every 1.6 years.”
Black carbon produced by Arctic shipping is an important issue. Local sources of soot are known to contribute to Arctic melting, and the more local the source, the more it contributes to the problem. Although shipping is currently thought to contribute only 5% of the black carbon load in the Arctic, that could increase to 20% by 2050 according to some projections of future shipping. The eight Arctic Council states are committed to working together on black carbon issues, having signed a framework agreement in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in early 2015 that says they will, “…adopt an ambitious, aspirational and quantitative collective goal on black carbon, and to consider additional goals, by the next Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in 2017.”
Whether that collective goal will include promoting actions on limiting black carbon from shipping is not yet known. There is a real opportunity in this respect for the Arctic states to demonstrate leadership on this issue, thereby setting an example for shipping in Antarctic waters.
The third omission is the introduction of alien species to the Arctic, either in ballast water, or via biofouling, which both require fit for purpose polar operational measures to address translocations in such sensitive areas. As Arctic waters continue to warm, the numbers of alien species that can survive there will increase, including organisms such as the European green crab (nicknamed ‘cockroach of the sea'), and the Japanese ghost shrimp. Shipping and in particular ballast water transfer is the single biggest vector of marine invasive species transfer. The Arctic marine environment is already stressed by climate change, acidification, and increasing industrial uses of the offshore Arctic. Introducing invasive species further complicates survival for Arctic species and the whole food web built on the marine environment from tiny plankton to 100 tonne bowhead whales.
All of these omissions could still be considered in Step 2 of the Polar Code if the political will to do so exists. However, they will require backing by Parties to IMO. NGOs can take part in negotiations and make proposals, but need state support to take them further. Those Arctic Council states which are “port/coastal states” that is, the territories that would be most directly affected by shipping regulations, have an obvious interest in protecting their environments. Several other states influential at the IMO, such as China, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United Kingdom are also Arctic Council Observer states. In their applications to become members of the Council, and their subsequent justifications for their inclusion as Council observers, these states commonly stress their interests in preserving the Arctic environment. The Council itself is explicit in its expectations of Observers. One of the criteria for admission as an Observer is, “Have demonstrated a concrete interest and ability to support the work of the Arctic Council, including through partnerships with member states and Permanent Participants bringing Arctic concerns to global decision making bodies.”
There are other options to addressing some of these issues. The first is unilateral regulation within the exclusive economic zones of Arctic states (out to 200 nautical miles). This is where most shipping in the Arctic takes place. For instance, Canada is considered to have stringent rules governing shipping in its Arctic waters. The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act has a zero discharge pollution policy, the Arctic Ice Regime Shipping System categorizes vessels according to their ability to handle different ice conditions, and the Zone/Date System defines opening and closing dates for entry and exit into the Canadian Arctic for various classes of ships.
There are also international instruments other than the Polar Code that deal with some of the wider environmental issues tied to shipping. For example a ban on the use of HFO (or a phasing out) could be accomplished via an amendment to MARPOL Annex I, Chapter 9, Regulation 43 rather than tied to revision of the Polar Code.
Another suggested alternative is to establish Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs) in the Arctic. As noted in a recent report, establishment of these areas can provide rules to protect the most vulnerable or important places in the offshore Arctic. “PSSAs can provide additional protection through measures that may reduce the likelihood and consequences of accidents (acute pollution), in addition to measures that targets operational emissions and discharges.” PSSA measures might also include restrictions on use/carriage of HFO.
However the regulation of the Arctic marine sector is accomplished, it should be implemented without delay, and the Polar Code is one instrument to accomplish that, as it is an already established umbrella process to address polar shipping issues.
We look to the Arctic states, together with the Arctic Council Observer states to plainly state their intention to bolster the code, and close the remaining governance gaps in Arctic shipping. We also recommend the regular review of the Code’s provisions, considering the rapidly changing Arctic marine environment.
The Arctic Human Development Report II: A Contribution to Arctic Policy Shaping
Gail Fondahl & Joan Nymand Larsen
This past year saw the publication of the second Arctic Human Development Report, a decade after the first report was issued. If the first AHDR (2004) provided a baseline of human development, this second report enabled the beginning of temporal comparisons and contrasts across a decade of marked social, economic, cultural and environmental change in the North. Sub-titled “Regional Processes and Global Linkages,” AHDR-II attends to the challenges that globalization, along with climate change, poses to the socio-economic stability and human security of the Arctic population. Synthesizing the extensive literature produced over the past decade, authors also identified key gaps in knowledge that still need to be tackled, as well as important success stories over the past decade.
AHDR-II was written with certain audiences in mind. Directed at a broad audience, it nevertheless addresses, in particular: post-secondary students in, and interested in, the North; northern residents; decision- and policy-makers whose work affects the North; and the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SWDG). Given the unanticipated interest and uptake by post-secondary institutions of the first AHDR as a teaching resource, this audience was very much at the forefront in the editors’ minds during the production of AHDR-II. The report covers a wide range of topics, documenting their diverse manifestations across the Circumpolar North, is up-to-date, is rich in graphics and illustrative material, and is free to download, providing a valuable source for teaching and learning about the major trends in human development over the past decade in the North. In a more indirect, long-term sense, AHDR-II will hopefully play a role in shaping policy, as today’s students become tomorrow’s decision- and policy-makers. To develop policies and practices that will reduce vulnerabilities of northern residents in these times of rapid change and increased uncertainly, an understanding of trends in Arctic human development becomes a valuable tool.
In terms of directly addressing policy-makers, AHDR-II, like its predecessor, distills major findings and key policy-relevant conclusions, summarizes critical gaps in knowledge, and recommends priority activities that should be considered for follow-up work (AHDR-II 2014: 21-27; see also Larsen & Fondahl 2015). In doing so, the report provides a potential roadmap for the SDWG’s consideration – a function the SDWG has recognized and anticipated. More broadly, in providing an assessment of key challenges to human development and identifying potential opportunities, the report will hopefully inform Arctic governance, both formal and informal, at all scales.
While informed decision-making and governance requires comprehensive and current information, of special note to the Arctic Yearbook 2015 are the conclusions related specifically to the topic of ‘governance’ in the Arctic. ADHR-II attests that “recent institutional changes in the North have increased the local control and ownership of northern resources in some parts of the Arctic” and “an increasing trend of legitimate participation in Arctic decision-making and continued innovation in governance can be observed at all scales” (AHDR-II 2014: 23, 22). It notes, however, that increasing participation, and expanding demands for such, seriously stretch both human and fiscal resources, at all scales, perhaps especially among indigenous peoples. The report identifies the need to resolve such challenges. AHDR-II also identifies the need for improved knowledge on what institutions and institutional arrangements, formal and informal, will contribute to improving the human condition in the Arctic (25).
The report has been criticized for paying inadequate attention to the contested nature of governance processes and giving inadequate consideration of the role of non-state players such as energy companies in Arctic governance (Klick 2015). Certainly, such relations could be described and analyzed in greater detail, although the editors had to balance considerations of length against all-inclusive discussions.
The road to the AHDR-II’s production was not without potholes. While the project was initially endorsed by the SDWG, the report did not receive its endorsement. During the SDWG review process, SDWG member states and Permanent Participants made numerous requests for changes to the text of various chapters (most notably the Legal Systems and Governance chapters), most to which the authors agreed. However, in a few cases, the requested changes in wording would have significantly altered the meaning in a way to which authors did not consent. This ultimately caused the SDWG members to fail to reach consensus on endorsing the report. A fundamental benefit resulting from this tension, however, was the identification of the need, at the outset of projects, for clearer understandings by all players regarding the level of academic freedom versus control over texts that a Working Group may exercise over reports, and what constitutes an internal versus external product.
If not formally endorsed at the Arctic Council Ministerial, the AHDR-II received mention in both the Senior Arctic Officials’ Report to Ministers (AC SAO 2015: 37, 38) and in the Iqaluit Declaration itself (Arctic Council 2015: §19). A document offering key findings and suggestions for further research needs was prepared for the Ministerial and can be found on the SDWG’s website (Larsen & Fondahl 2015). AHDR-II has been suggested as a key source for SDWG’s Social, Economic and Cultural Expert Group, one mandate of which is to “undertake regular gap analyses to identify research priorities which will assist the SDWG in framing its human development research agenda” (SECEG Terms of Reference §III.c). Thus, AHDR-II is poised to inform the SDWG’s priorities and workplan, and we anticipate that other Arctic policy-makers will find it both instructive and inspirational.
Arctic Futures Initiative: A Holistic Approach to Arctic Futures
Anni Reissell, Hannu Halinen, Peter Lemke & Charlie Vörösmarty
In the age of globalization, the Arctic interacts with the rest of the world, and vice versa, in a complex manner—societally, economically, technologically, and environmentally. The complexity of the dynamic global system poses significant societal, research, policy and governance challenges for the Arctic. Then again, the Arctic has to be seen in a global context.
The Arctic is of increasing strategic interest, both regionally and globally, due to the opportunities as well as challenges brought about by the pronounced physical, biological as well as social and economic changes observed across this critical part of the Earth system. Much of the interest is either directly or indirectly centered on the Arctic as a key epicenter of global climate change—both in terms of the impacts on it as well as its reciprocal feedbacks on lower latitudes. Concern also arises from the huge economic potential of the Arctic, recoverable new energy resources across the region, and the possible opening and consequential expansion of important northern transportation sea routes.
In order to better adapt and plan towards a stable and prosperous Arctic, more information is needed about the potential future conditions of the region. To fulfill this need, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is in the planning phase of a new international, collaborative, and integrative research project, the “Arctic Futures Initiative” (AFI), which will support decision-making in an effort to advance sustainable, and plausible futures for the Arctic in different environmental, social, economic and technological contexts. The rationale for AFI is reflected in a key conclusion from a seminar “Policy Support from Arctic Research” held in Helsinki, Finland in May 2013, by the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, the Academy of Finland, and IIASA:
There is a decided need for a holistic, integrative assessment of plausible futures for the Arctic, cutting across different disciplines and individual countries’ strategic interests.
The AFI within IIASA aims to exploit IIASA’s key position as an international, non-governmental, neutral and independent research organization with a large network through its National Member Organizations. IIASA can also utilize its long history of developing systems analytic approaches while at the same time moving forward truly interdisciplinary perspectives that effectively address today’s multivariate and complex issues across local, regional and global scales.
The AFI will work collaboratively with other Arctic institutions and organizations to bring together different scientific disciplines: natural and social sciences, economics, humanities, law, communities, and all affiliated stakeholders to support an integrated and “end to end” science to decision-making framework that builds upon IIASA’s 23 National Member Organizations, including five Arctic nations and six Observer nations of the Arctic Council.
The Arctic Futures Initiative is organized to bring together the interests of the research, policy and business communities for an integrated and collaborative approach to a sustainable future in the Arctic. These communities will be involved through representative groups such as the IIASA National Member Organizations and partners (research), the Arctic Council (policy), and the Arctic Economic Council (business). AFI will also, for example, collaborate with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC), and several research projects, one example being the Pan-Eurasian Experiment (PEEX).
Mission: To build a knowledge base that informs decision-making in the Arctic from a comprehensive, holistic perspective, covering social, economic, technological, and environmental issues while also taking into account the connections between the Arctic and the rest of the world.
Objective: To initiate a research project and framework with various components that could contribute to a holistic integrated and sustained assessment of plausible futures of the Arctic.
Key Roles: 1) Bringing socio-economic expertise to bear with technological and environmental expertise for Arctic futures assessments; and 2) Providing a framework for a sustained assessment process and the ability to bridge the gap between one-time assessment efforts within the Arctic Council.
The overriding objective of AFI is to initiate a research project that will contribute to a sustained holistic integrated assessment of plausible futures of the Arctic, while cutting across different disciplines and individual countries’ strategic interests. The initiative will apply advanced integrative and participatory methods developed by IIASA and its international collaborators for examining possible futures of the Arctic. This could include IIASA’s research expertise such as work related to socio-economic scenario development; socio-economic vulnerability assessment of sectors and populations (such as the indigenous one); and systems analysis to support decision making and Arctic adaptation efforts.
Whether for the purposes of science, policy or business, efforts focused on the Arctic are multitude but currently remain fragmented. A holistic, integrated systems approach to the Arctic is missing, as is a consistent approach to identifying and communicating the plausible Arctic futures.
Another key role for AFI lays in its ability, as part of IIASA as a long-standing international research institution, to bridge the assessments of the Arctic Council and other relevant institutions across various chairmanships. To fully realize an integrated and sustained assessment process of Arctic futures, various activities within individual chairmanship timeframes will need to fit into a broader sustained assessment framework that AFI will be an essential part of. This type of integrated methodology and sustained framework will produce more usable, timely, and relevant information, scenarios and models for stakeholders in the Arctic that can lead to better decisions to be made for a more sustainable Arctic future.
Russian Military Activities in the Arctic: Myths & Realities
Alexander Sergunin & Valery Konyshev
The outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis has spurred new accusations of Russia as being an aggressive and militarist power not only in East Europe but also in the Arctic (in addition to the charges brought earlier with regard to the planting of the titanium flag on the North Pole in 2007, resumption of naval and air patrols in the region and military modernization programs of the Russian conventional and nuclear forces deployed in the Far North). It was expected that in the wake of the crisis Moscow would dramatically increase its military activities and presence in the region as well as accelerate its military modernization programs. Some experts paid attention to the fact that Russia’s new maritime doctrine (July 2015) has identified the Arctic (along with the North Atlantic) as priority areas for the Russian navy.
However, these alarmist expectations were not fulfilled. First of all, there was no any substantial paradigmatic shift regarding the Kremlin’s vision of the military power’s role in the Arctic. As before, Moscow’s military strategies aimed at three major goals: first, to demonstrate and ascertain Russia’s sovereignty over the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation (AZRF), including the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf; second, to protect its economic interests in the High North; and third, to demonstrate that Russia retains its great power status and has world-class military capabilities. In a sense, Russian military strategies are comparable with those of other coastal states (especially the U.S. and Canadian ones).
Still, some impact of the Ukrainian crisis could be seen in the increasing number and scale of the Russian military exercises in the Arctic. For example, in March 2015 Putin ordered to inspect the Northern Fleet for combat readiness. Some 38,000 soldiers, 3,360 vehicles, 41 naval vessels, 15 submarines and 110 aircrafts were involved in the inspection. In August more than 1,000 soldiers, 14 aircraft and 34 special military units took part in drills on the Taymyr Peninsula (northern Siberia).
However, it should be noted that the March combat readiness inspection was a response to NATO’s preceding drill in Norway which involved 5,000 troops, the largest military exercise on the NATO northern flank since 1967. As for the August exercise, according to the Northern Fleet Commander Admiral Vladimir Korolev, this exercise was purely defensive as it was done more than 3,000 km away from the Norwegian border and directed to protect economic security of the AZRF (to prevent poaching, smuggling, illegal migration as well as to conduct search and rescue operations) rather than to plan any offensive moves.
So far, Russia has responded to NATO’s moves with more rhetoric than action in the Arctic, notes Andreas Østhagen, an Arctic policy expert with the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies. In contrast with the Baltic Sea region where the NATO-Russian tensions have obviously increased over the last year, “The situation in the High North is close to normal compared to the activity of the last years,” the head of the Norwegian Joint Command Headquarters, Lt. Gen. Morten Haga Lunde believes. “This is in spite of the tense situation that has evolved between Russia and NATO.”
According to official numbers from the Norwegian Joint Command Headquarters, there had been 43 scrambles and 69 identifications in international air space outside the coast of Norway in 2014. In 2013 there were 41 scrambles and 58 identifications, and in 2012 there were 41 scrambles and 71 identifications. The numbers are considerably lower than during the 1980s, when there could be as many as 500 to 600 identifications per year.
There was no dramatic increase in Russia’s naval and air patrolling of the North Atlantic and Arctic in 2014-2015. Moreover, after two catastrophes with the Tu-95 strategic bombers (Summer 2015) their flights were suspended for a while.
Russia’s military modernization programs in the Far North were implemented according to schedule. However, some Western military analysts tried to represent the deployment of the Pantsir S-1 short-range air defense system on the Kola Peninsula, plans to replace S-300 longrange air defense system by a more advanced S-400 ‘Growler’ system, tactical training for fighter jet pilots in Arctic conditions, sea trials of nuclear submarines (most of which are designed for the deployment to the Pacific Fleet), plans to establish 16 deep-water ports, 10 search and rescue stations, 10 air defense radar stations, and 13 airfields along its Arctic periphery as an evidence of Russia’s growing military ambitions in the High North.
These experts tend to ignore that fact that the Soviet-time military machine has significantly degenerated in the 1990s and early 2000s and the Russian conventional and nuclear forces badly need modernization to effectively meet new challenges and threats.
To reorganize in a more efficient way the Russian land forces in the Western part of the AZRF there were plans to transform the motorized infantry and marine brigades located near Pechenga (Murmansk region) to the Arctic special force unit, with soldiers trained in a special program and equipped with modern personal equipment for military operations in the Arctic. The Arctic brigade should be operational by 2016. There were also plans to create another Arctic brigade somewhere in the Arkhangelsk region. All conventional forces in the AZRF should form an Arctic Group of Forces (AGF) to be led by the joint Arctic command (to be established in 2017).
However, the Ukrainian crisis has made adjustments to Russia’s military planning. While two Pechenga-based brigades were left in place, the Arctic brigade was surprisingly created ahead of schedule (in January 2015) and deployed in Alakurtti which is close to the Finnish-Russian border. Another surprise was that given an ‘increased NATO military threat’ in the North, President Putin has decided to accelerate the creation of a new strategic command ‘North’ which was established in December 2014 (three years ahead of the schedule). It was also announced that the second Arctic brigade will be formed in 2016 and will be stationed in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district (east of the Ural Mountains in the Arctic Circle).
Another interesting structural change is an ongoing reorganization of the Russian Coast Guard (part of the Federal Security Service (FSS), successor of the KGB). Now the Coast Guard has a wide focus in the Arctic: in addition to the traditional protection of biological resources in the Arctic Ocean, oil and gas installations and shipping along the Northern Sea Route are among the agency’s new top priorities. For this purpose, the FSS has established two new border guard commands: one in Murmansk for the western AZRF regions, and one in Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky for the eastern Arctic regions.
There are plans to equip the Coast Guard in the AZRF with the brand new vessels of project 22100. The Okean-class ice-going patrol ship, the Polyarnaya Zvezda (Polar Star), is currently undergoing sea trials in the Baltic Sea. Vessels of this class can break up to 31.4 inch-thick ice. They have an endurance of 60 days and a range of 12,000 nautical miles at 20 knots. They are equipped with a Ka27 helicopter and can be supplied with Gorizont UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).
The attention which Russia pays now to the Coast Guard is in line with what other coastal states do (especially Norway and Denmark).
To conclude, serious international experts do not see any particular alarming trends in Russia’s military behavior in the Arctic in the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis. According to the former Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard and current U.S. State Department Special Representative to the Arctic, Admiral Robert J. Papp: “Everything we have seen them doing so far [i.e. Russia], is lawful, considered and deliberative. So we’ll just continue monitoring it and not overreact to it.” Papp noted that all countries have a responsibility to be able to provide search and rescue capabilities and navigation assistance in the area and Russia seems to be investing in that.
NATO & the Arctic
Maarten de Sitter
In the light of its already full plate of responsibilities it was not surprising that the Alliance did not react collectively to the territorial Arctic claims Russia deposited in August 2015. Faced i.a. with Putin’s ongoing illegal action on the Alliance’s eastern flank, the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan and threats to its southern member Turkey, finding a consensus in any way vis-à-vis High North issues is clearly not on NATO’s forefront.
This taciturnity however sends a bad signal, both to Vladimir Putin as well as to the Arctic nations, as it could be interpreted as a lack of interest. Bad PR, so to speak.
Alliance silence on the matter unfortunately reflects a more engrained problem. Notwithstanding persistent efforts in the last decade, for instance by Norway, to get and keep the issue of High North security on the radar in Brussels, a collective decision to address the changing strategic situation remains elusive. Even Putin does not now trigger a NATO High North position. Individual nations have taken measures – e.g. the creation of a Danish Arctic Command – but a collective response is absent.
Leaving the legal merits of the ambitious Russian territorial claim to the experts, politically the announcement clearly fits in the aggressive expansionism that is Putin’s hallmark. A collective Allied reaction to Moscow’s attempted Polar territory grab requires the initiative by one or by a group of nations in the North Atlantic Council to discuss the matter followed by consensus on text and possible measures. No move in NATO HQ in that direction can as yet be discerned.
This lack of collective positioning on the High North, against a background of Russian sabre rattling, but also in the face of a growing understanding of the overall impact climate change has on the regional strategic situation in the High North, is not surprising. There is no NATO High North Security Strategy. The dearth of attention for the region was already evident at the launch of the NATO Strategic Concept in 2010, in which there is not a word about the Arctic. An absence of consensus between the editors of the Concept – i.e. member states – prevented the issue being incorporated in this guiding document.
NATO can of course not be blamed that in 2015 the Strategic Concept also in general terms looks outdated, especially considering Putin’s continuing belligerent antics. But one expected that NATO declarations since Moscow’s illegitimate acts started would not only focus on beefing up Baltic and eastern Alliance members’ security but would also send a clear message regarding Russian polar posturing and preparation. Even so, an icy silence prevails.
The timely visit of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg to NATO Founding Member Iceland in April 2015 raised hopes of High North Security experts of some tough language from Brussels. Disappointingly, nothing of substance was announced to manifest that in the northern region too, NATO is strengthening its guard to defend Alliance interests. A guard that is called for also because, as new maritime options develop, a range of opportunities appears for Russia to spoil – if not do worse to – Western interests.
Three potential measures of increased vigilance present themselves.
ONE: the current NATO air surveillance mission should become permanent, i.e. NATO nations should continue to mount a taskforce of aircraft for air policing and other tasks at Keflavik on a rotational scheme, but henceforth without gaps of months of absence as currently is the practice.
TWO: NATO should consider upgrading its liaison office in Iceland, maybe in an adapted variation on the model of the NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) recently installed in the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria as part of the Readiness Action Plan that is NATO’s military response to Moscow’s aggression. A small NFIU HQ with emphasis on support for NATO’s regional air and maritime activities.
THREE: the budding initiative to create a regional Search and Rescue (SAR) Centre should now be materialised. This is not a NATO activity, but clearly one to be supported by all nations and organisations with Arctic activities. NATO can provide expertise. The requirement to be able to assist over long distance in case of incidents in or over Arctic waters is massively evident. The beauty of this proposal is that it could include an invitation to Russia, as member of the Arctic Council, to join, and hence have SAR become an instrument of détente.
Finally, all three measures should tbe supported by Alliance common funding as Iceland alone cannot be shouldered with the financial burden.
As winter approaches, one continues to hope NATO will get its polar act together soon.
Does the Sun also Rise in the Arctic? Three Pillars of Japan's Arctic Policy
Japan or Nihon in Japanese means a country from which the Sun rises. In general, the word Sun is often used as a metaphor for Japan. This commentary explains Japan's Arctic engagement by focusing on its three pillars, and also considers its policy prospects.
Japan's Arctic engagement has centered on three pillars, namely the pillars of diplomacy, science and business, although these pillars are self-sustained by ministries concerned rahter than coordinated among them. The oldest pillar is the diplomatic one, since it dates back to Japan's signing of the Svalbard Treaty in 1920. However, this pillar had been dormant until recent years. In July 2009, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) officially submitted its offer to be a permanent Observer to the Arctic Council. In March 2013, MoFA appointed an ambassador in charge of Arctic affairs. As a result of various diplomatic efforts, Japan was admitted to Observer status of the Arctic Council in May 2013.
The most substantial engagement was conducted in the pillar of science. Both the National Institute of Polar Research and Marine Science and Technology Center (now called the Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) have been the main organs which conducted observational research in the Arctic since the beginning of the 1990s. More recently, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology inaugurated the five-year GRENE Arctic Climate Change Research Project 2011-2015, which was succeeded by the Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project 2015-2019 (ArCS).
The less emphsized but embracing huge potential is the pillar of business. The pilot case was the Kalaallit Nunaat Marine Seismic (KANUMAS) project 1990-1962. More recently, the Japanese government showed interest in the utilization of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) performed feasibility research on shipping and logistics through the NSR for the private sector including shipping companies, trading companies, and electric power companies. MLIT organizes a Public-Private Partnership Council for the Northern Sea Route.
When the government adopted the second version of the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy in April 2013, the Arctic-related measures among others were for the first time installed at the Cabinet level. Although most such measures were not brand-new, what was unprecedented was that it instituted two primordial linkages among the three pillars: to utilize the pillar of science for the pillar of business, and to make efficient use of the pillar of diplomacy for the pillar of science.
In an attempt to pursue a more developed and comprehensive Arctic policy promoting full-fledged interests for Japanese stakeholders such as governmental agencies, academic communities and industries, the Japanese government is now drafting an Arctic policy document including facilitation of observational research, promotion of international cooperation, utilization of the NSR, and securing safety navigation and national interests. Japan's new Arctic policy document is scheduled to be announced at some point whithin this year.
To conclude, Japan will show its flag in teh Arctic more clearly, and thus we watch a true sunrise at hand.
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