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Arctic Yearbook 2012
State of the Arctic Strategies and Policies – A Summary
the factors motivating the U.S. strategy (White House, 2009: 2). It aims to safeguard the
country’s interests in the region, such as energy development, and “to balance access to, and
development of, energy and other natural resources with the protection of the Arctic
environment (White House, 2009: 7-8).
Correspondingly, transportation, mostly meaning shipping and transport on sea routes, is
among the priorities or objectives of the strategies of Finland, Iceland, Russia and the US:
Finland’s interests are more in winter shipping and ship-building. The island-state of Iceland
has a particularly strong emphasis on shipping and northern sea routes, such as trans-arctic
routes, and also on aviation. Russia is here the master of Arctic transportation due to the
experiences from the use of the NSR. The US state policy prefers “to facilitate safe, secure,
and reliable navigation” as well as to protect maritime commerce and the environment.
Similarities: All the Arctic states are aware and explicitly discuss, even emphasize, the Arctic’s
economic potential due to its rich natural resources and/or strategic location for the whole
Generally this refers to exploitation of natural resources, both renewable resources and non-
renewable ones, particularly fossil energy resources. Indeed, based on the Arctic strategies,
the offshore petroleum industry seems to be the main economic activity and business
opportunity in the Arctic region of the early-21
In addition and related to vast or considerable economic potential more immaterial values
are explicitly discussed in the strategies – for example Canada (on healthy communities), the
Kingdom of Denmark (on Arctic peoples’ cultures), Finland (on expertise, know-how),
Iceland (on sustainable development of resources), Norway (on competitiveness,
knowledge), Russia (on social and economic development) and Sweden (on sustainable
Differences: The Kingdom of Denmark’s and Norway’s strategies emphasize “new”
economic activities and industries in the Arctic, mostly meaning offshore fossil fuels and
minerals. At the same time they emphasize the use of renewable (marine) resources. By
contrast Iceland’s report emphasizes the fishing industry, practiced in a sustainable way, as
well as shipping and aviation. Finland’s strategy emphasizes transport and ship-building.