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Arctic Yearbook 2012
agreements that are being negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council deal with issues other
than addressing the causes of environmental change in the Arctic. Rather, they focus on paving the
way for economic development in the region, in particular with regards to the marine Arctic. The
2011 search and rescue agreement is one example. Another is the ongoing negotiation over
cooperation in the event of oil spills. Though such cooperation is relevant for protecting the local
environment, it is more likely to legitimize further oil exploitation than reduce the emphasis on
extracting and using fossil fuels.
The increased focus on conflicting national interest does not necessarily equal increased risk for
military confrontation. Rather, the Arctic states appear willing to adhere to international law, such as
the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that defines national rights to
resources in the Arctic Ocean; Norway and Russia recently signed a border delimitation agreement
with reference to UNCLOS. Nevertheless, these actions still emphasize national rather than
circumpolar interests.
Global Markets and Resource Scarcity
The drive to secure resources is hardly limited to the Arctic. The world is experiencing an
unprecedented increase in demand for natural resources. According to Andrew-Speeds et al. (2012),
this demand is likely to accelerate in the next 10–20 years, bringing with it an increased risk of
scarcity and volatile markets. In their report about the nexus between access to land, energy, food,
water and minerals, the authors highlight that actions relating to one resource will increasingly affect
other resources, and the interdependences between issue areas are much more complex than when
resource scarcity was discussed in the 1970s. Moreover, they are also linked both to an
unprecedented rate of global ecological changes (see Steffen et al., 2002 for review) and the
emergence of new global players with political and economic weight. Many of these new players
come to environmental negotiations with different perspectives and priorities than the old
industrialized world (Hallding et al., 2011).
As early as 2000, Chaturvedi predicted that neo-liberal, market-access oriented globalization as a
general trend would also affect the Arctic. In contrast to older state-centric geopolitics, the shared
ideology of market economics binds actors together in ways that go beyond territoriality. It is in this
context that “the long-standing image and reality of the Arctic as a supplier of natural resources is
currently being reinforced” (Chaturvedi, 2000: 451). With globalization, links between environmental