Page 194 - yearbook pdf

This is a SEO version of yearbook pdf. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
Arctic Yearbook 2012
The Arctic Environment – From Low to High Politics
the Euro-Barents regional cooperation) highlighted sustainable development, the 1991 Rovaniemi
Declaration that created the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) focused mainly on
protecting the Arctic environment. In contrast to the broader sustainable development agenda of the
Barents cooperation, the actual activities in the AEPS heavily emphasized the environment, with a
particular focus on pollution (organic pollutants, heavy metals, acidifying substances, and
radioactivity), and conservation of Arctic flora and fauna (Young, 1998). The environmental focus
had its origin in Finnish concerns about transboundary pollution from Russian smelters, general
concerns about the consequences of radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl accident in 1986,
North American concerns about environmental consequences of oil and gas production, and new
findings about high levels of organic contaminants in Arctic people. Another sign of the
environmental focus in the AEPS was that most countries were represented by their ministries of the
environment. The social and economic aspects of sustainable development did not have an
organizational home in any specific working group of the AEPS. A task force on sustainable
development and utilization was created in 1993. It dealt mainly with sustainable use of living
resources by indigenous people and brought in some of the social dimensions of sustainable
development, but towards the end of this period it became dormant (Archer & Scrivener, 2000: 613).
A Move Towards Cooperation and Focus on Environmental Dimensions
In relation to the security dimension, the region-building period was a move away from a focus on
military security and conflicting interests, and towards cooperation. Indeed, in a review of geopolitics
in the Arctic in 2000, Chaturvedi wrote about how international politics in the Arctic had started to
respond to new geopolitics compared to the Cold War era, and that there were “good reasons to
expect a paradigm shift in Arctic geopolitics from high politics, ‘national security’ related discourse to
low politics, environmental conservation and indigenous people related discourses” (Chaturvedi,
2000: 449). This shift was also visible in US national policy, where a focus on military security was
replaced in 1994 by an emphasis on the environment and sustainable development, which paved the
way for political negotiations to establish the Arctic Council (Archer & Scrivener, 2000: 614).
The environment played a special role in the Arctic’s shift away from being a region ruled by high
politics, because it was an area that could be framed in relation to common interests, which made
cooperation between the East and West more feasible than for issues more closely linked to national
security interests. Scientific cooperation also helped Arctic states to focus on common interests. The
scale was circumpolar; eight Arctic states were the founders of the AEPS, and AMAP’s first