As the world economy continues to expand, demand for energy and other natural resources is increasing. Reserves of some resources are becoming more difficult to replace. Natural resource industries are increasingly interested in new sources of supply in non-traditional yet politically stable regions such as the Arctic. This is not necessarily good news for Arctic communities. Past experience has showed that many Arctic communities have benefited little from resource exploitation. Indeed, a large number of northern communities have experienced enormous social, economic, and environmental challenges over the past half century and these challenges can be closely linked to impacts of past resource exploitation. Communities are disrupted to serve the interests of a type of resource development where few jobs go to local peoples and the arrival and departure of migrant workers creates great social problems. Resource dependence is seen as one of the most important challenges facing the region.
Yet there is some hope that this can change. There is some indication that the worst aspects of the resource dependence can be countered through the introduction of new policies and models of development that increase local control of development and ensure a higher share of resource rents and other benefits are passed on to northern communities. In certain areas of the Arctic new land claims agreements, impact-benefit agreements, and co-management boards offer the potential for the development of natural resources in a manner that increases the benefits of these developments for local communities and helps ensure that development is done in an environmental sound manner. New relationships between governments, communities, and industry are increasing the possibility that more benefits from resource development can be passed on to communities – including in the areas of human capital and increased capacity.
In February 2014 Naalakkersuisut, the Government of Greenland published Greenland’s Oil and Mineral Strategy 2014 – 2018. The ‘Summary’ of the strategy states that:
The Government of Greenland’s goal with the mineral resources sector is clear. It wants to promote prosperity and welfare by creating new income and employment opportunities in the area of mineral resources activities. More specifically, the Government of Greenland’s long-term goal is to further the chances of making a commercially viable oil find – and that there are always five to ten active mines in Greenland in the long term. Mining activities of this scale will provide tax revenues of more than DKK 30bn over the next 15 years. The potential of an oil find may be much larger. Based on the current assumptions, the establishment of two oil fields – a 500m barrel field from 2020 and a 2bn barrel field from 2025 – would generate more than DKK 435bn to the Mineral Resources Fund until 2060 (Naalakkersuisoq, 2014: 8).
Dana B. Eidsness
With direct container service to North Atlantic destinations through the Port of Portland and bulk capacity through its ports in Eastport and Searsport, Maine is in a position to capitalize on emerging shipping lanes in the Arctic Sea, which could see the state become a hub of international trade in the Northeast U.S. The Maine Port Authority is preparing for this, putting port and rail improvements in place to facilitate increased throughput.
Located in the Northeast, USA and bordering the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec with 5633 km of Atlantic coastline, Maine is well-positioned as a hub for North Atlantic shipping and supply chain activity - with comparable (ocean) shipping fees to domestic and European destinations. With the opening of the Northwest Passage, Maine will be able to offer effective shipping solutions to Canada, Europe and Asia through its ports.
Lawson W. Brigham
Most professionals in the polar and maritime communities are well aware that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is developing a mandatory or binding Polar Code for ships operating in polar waters. Others outside the marine world may have heard of this significant international effort although much of the work is quite technical and remains under negotiation by the maritime states. This comment steps back from the Polar Code’s technical details and presents the broad themes and issues that are being addressed in this historic effort.
The Polar Code at its core addresses marine safety and environmental challenges for ships operating in remote, sometimes extreme, conditions where marine infrastructure is limited or non-existent. It is important to also note that the Code is directly related to the future protection of Arctic people, especially Arctic coastal communities and their traditional lifestyles. The IMO is seeking a uniform, nondiscriminatory set of rules and regulations for polar ships, which in the maritime industry will hopefully result in a level playing field for all marine operators. Importantly, the Code is a set of amendments to existing IMO safety and environmental protection instruments - the current maritime conventions are being amended to adapt and enhance ship systems for operations in both Arctic and Antarctic waters. Boundaries have been delineated in the Arctic (north of 60 degrees North in the Bering Sea with adjustments further north in the North Atlantic) and Antarctic (south of 60 degrees South) where the mandatory Polar Code will be applicable. A set of ship types have evolved in the negotiations where certain operating conditions require more extensive ship requirements. The new Code will likely require that commercial carriers and passenger ships more than 500 tons be certificated (all will be required to obtain a Polar Ship Certificate from the flag state) and also carry a Polar Operations Operating Manual that is unique to a given ship.
In March 2014, Fednav became the first shipping company to employ drones, or Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV), for ice reconnaissance on a commercial voyage. The Umiak I, one of Fednav’s three powerful icebreaking bulk carriers, used a variety of video-equipped drones to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters of the Labrador Coast.
The goal was to provide the captain and officers with detailed real-time visual information on the local ice conditions.
Fednav Limited is a Montreal-based international shipping company. Its principal activities include the transport of bulk and general cargo worldwide. Since the Company’s very early days, the Arctic has played a vital role in Fednav’s success. Fednav in turn, has played a pivotal role in the development of innovative transportation solutions for the harsh Arctic conditions. As such, the company is widely recognized in Canada and internationally as a pioneer in Polar shipping.
On 23 August 2013, the Office of the Finnish Prime Minister published an updated Strategy for the Arctic Region, which included express statements of support for placing the Arctic Council on a treaty footing (14, 44). Four months later, the Prime Minister publicly linked this objective with Finland’s proposal to hold a summit of Council leaders and with Finland's upcoming chairmanship of the Council in 2017 (Nilsen 2013). The goal of this commentary is to contextualise and evaluate this fresh development in Arctic affairs.