Gerald Zojer & Laura Olsén

The Calotte Academy is an annual traveling symposium which was first organized in the early 1990s. The Academy inherited its name from the North Calotte region (Cap of the North), which comprises the northern parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, as well as the very northwest of the Russian Federation. This region has left its footprint not only in the name of this academic happening, but traveling within this region is one of the core characteristics of the Calotte Academy. The aim of this multidisciplinary event is to bring together senior researchers, PhD candidates, as well as various local stakeholders, in order to have a broad and open dialogue on an annually changing theme.

This year’s Calotte Academy ran under the overarching topic: “Resilience related to Sustainable Development in Globalization”. In order to achieve a meaningful and thorough dialogue between all the participants, the Calotte Academy is designed in a way to provide more time for joint discussions than for the presentation of each individuals’ work. Spending time together while traveling through the North Calotte region furthermore provides space for additional and informal debates, and also offers a possibility to experience this region and to visit some of the interesting locations and sights along the way. Moreover, traveling within the region also allows to get in touch with the local inhabitants and some of the various stakeholders that are involved in the development of this area. Altogether, this traveling symposium is not just a place for young and experienced researchers to present their work and results, but much more it offers a venue for active and lively discussions, for getting to know the region, and for meeting and brainstorming with people that share overlapping interests.

Emily Tsui

At the 2015 General Assembly of the Northern Forum (NF or Forum) in Yakutia, Craig Fleener, on behalf of Governor Bill Walker, declared Alaska’s intention to rejoin the Forum. Four years before at the Gangwon General Assembly, Alaska withdrew from the NF, despite having been one of the principal architects of the organization in 1991. What were the motivations behind Alaska’s initial commitment, withdrawal, and now move to rejoin?

As the Northern Forum celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and is undertaking a renewal of its activities, understanding why one of its key members has had a fickle relationship with the organization sheds light on why the NF has not risen in prominence in comparison with other Arctic governing bodies, such as for example, the Arctic Council. Over the years, the NF has seen its membership rise to a height of 25 subnational governments from 10 countries between 2001 and 2003, and fall to a low of 7 governments across 5 countries between 2013 and 2014.1 This decline is especially problematic given recent findings by the 2015 Gordon Foundation public opinion survey, which found that the plurality of Northern respondents in Canada and the United States indicated they feel that governments closer to them best represents them, whether at the territorial/state level or municipal/local level (EKOS, 2015: 20). Since the NF’s goal is to facilitate relations between subnational governments, what does its decline in membership say about the need for inter-subnational co-operation in the Arctic region?

Andreas Kuersten


As climate change opens the Arctic to human activity and the region steadily captures more international attention, a rich tapestry of Arctic international governance mechanisms has formed and propagated. From the sub-regional to the pan-Arctic, numerous forums now exist where Arctic and non-Arctic states and other entities interact to address the issues facing the roof of the world, but “[t]he Arctic Council has emerged as perhaps the most important of these” (Nord, 2016: 4).

In recent years, however, another regional body has appeared on the scene: the Arctic Five. Many opine that this loose union of the five Arctic littoral states, that excludes other Arctic states and native organizations, is usurping the Arctic Council’s central position in northern governance. The Arctic Five, through its compression of regional decision making, is also charged with undermining the spirit of cooperation that the Council has helped unfurl across Arctic international relations.

The aforementioned view is widespread, and certainly possesses a degree of truth. But the relationship that has developed and that could develop between the Arctic Five and Arctic Council is more nuanced than popularly put forth. As such, this Briefing Note aims to elaborate on how these two regional associations actually and potentially interact, both negatively and positively. While actions by the Arctic Five can detract from the work and regional position of the Arctic Council, the former is not the harbinger of the latter’s demise. Furthermore, these two groups can even complement one another to positively address Arctic issues.

Adam Stepien & Andreas Raspotnik

In April 2016, the European Commission and the European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy published their new Joint Communication on “An integrated European Union Policy for the Arctic”.1 In the following June, the Foreign Affairs Council (the Council of the European Union’s configuration that brings together the member states’ foreign ministers), in turn, issued its Conclusions on the Arctic policy,2 endorsing the Commission’s priorities and reiterating the EU’s strong regional interest.

The authors of this briefing note published analyses of both documents.3 For the Arctic Yearbook 2016, we try to take a step further and consider possible future pathways for the Union’s Arctic affairs, including the likely implications of the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the EU (so-called Brexit).

Erik Kruse

The Arctic is an area receiving a large amount of global attention due to the increasing evidence of climate change all across the region, acting as a harbinger for action to be taken on this global issue. Scotland is inseparably linked to the dynamics of the region, but is concomitant with the politics of the UK, which has been found not to offer of yet, a comprehensive policy approach to the Arctic. Ultimately issues of governance and security are likely to increase in the High North, as will economic opportunities. As a result, there is imminent demand for more comprehensive governance and security in the region, especially as resource extraction continues.

Scotland as part of the UK is a near-Arctic country and will undoubtedly be drawn into future discussions on the concerns facing the region. Many subnational and regional governments have their own Arctic policies. The possibility for Scotland to develop its own Arctic policy is fairly limited, however, in large part due to the constitutional context it currently finds itself in. Although the vote for Britain to leave the European Union, increasing powers through devolution, demand from Arctic states and international institutions for more comprehensive governance, and increasing economic opportunities suggest that a Scottish Arctic policy stating its intent and outlining its specific areas of concern and abilities from the UK is a strong possibility.

Leilei Zou

The Arctic is receiving world-wide attention for its unique and strategic geopolitical position, distinct climate change impact, and abundant natural resources. Most Arctic waters fall under the jurisdiction of Arctic states, as do most Arctic fisheries management. There are uneven fisheries developments across Arctic waters, with productive fishing grounds in the adjacent seas of the Arctic Ocean, but no fishing yet at the Central Arctic Ocean (hereinafter referred to as “CAO”) due to its multi-year ice cap. However, recent years have witnessed a persistence in the Arctic ice loss, and the CAO reached its lowest level of sea ice extent, at 60%, in the summer of 2012, raising the prospect of being a productive fish habitat as a result of climate changes (Balton, 2010; Rayfuse, 2009; Loeng et al., 2005).

With similar geographical advantages and political and economic interests, the five Arctic Ocean Coastal States (Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway, and Denmark in respect of Greenland, hereinafter referred to as “A5”) have developed into a kind of Arctic alliance, asserting their stewardship in Arctic Ocean management via the Illulissat Declaration, a statement released at their meeting in 2008 where they provided their first formal declaration to the international community on joint Arctic Ocean stewardship. With more and more significant impact of climate change in the Arctic, the prospect of CAO fisheries is attracting international attention. Fisheries have been the most important theme for A5 meetings since 2010, and impressively, in February 2014 the A5 made a proposal for the implementation of interim measures to prevent unregulated fishing and released it as a statement to the international community, a further move to demonstrate their stewardship in CAO fisheries management, which caused a worldwide stir. In July 2015, the A5 finalized a declaration for the internal agreement on interim measures amongst themselves. Although there is no inclusion of the more obvious words “moratorium” or “ban”, the chosen “interim measures to deter unregulated fishing”1, as the A5 have described it, have been widely interpreted as a “fishing moratorium or ban” by the media (Levgim, 2015; Myers, 2015; The New York Times, 2015). Five other important distant water fishing states and entities (hereinafter referred to as “the other 5”), namely China, the European Union, Iceland, Japan, and Korea, were invited to attend a “5+5” (the expanded delegation with A5 and the other 5 newly comers) meeting on high seas fisheries in CAO in December 2015 in Washington D.C. Up until now, the “5+5” has had two meetings whereby the A5 have tried to promote their proposal for interim measures amongst the other 5 as well.

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