Jacqueline Götze

Over the past decades, the Arctic has gone through a period of transformation. These changes particularly impact the everyday life of its Indigenous inhabitants due to their location in high-risk environments, vulnerability and dependency on environmental conditions. Although these communities are used to adapt to changing circumstances, the governance in times of transformative changes differs because of the complexity of change. Furthermore, the Arctic is affected by (post-) colonial and global dynamics through international agreements addressing Indigenous rights, sustainable development and climate change framed as international norms. However, global arrangements have to be rooted in regional contexts, which puts political institutions at these levels in a central position. Sustainable development studies consider inclusive institutions as key for achieving global commons. In order to overcome gaps in our understanding of policy approaches regarding sustainable development in the Arctic, this paper addresses the key role of Indigenous institutions. Against this backdrop, the paper proposes a framework on the nexus of Indigenous peoples and sustainable development by focusing on the governance of transnational political Indigenous institutions. Following sustainable development studies, this framework adds to the field of inclusive governance the relevance of political identity and Indigenous knowledges as complementing factors for the analysis of Arctic Indigenous institutions. The developed framework is exemplarily applied to two institutions, the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Saami Council, to allow initial insights into its applicability. The framework could further act as a theoretical basis for in-depth analyses and support the derivation of testable hypotheses on the (inter)relation of transformative changes and the governance of Indigenous institutions.

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