Increasingly, when the media and political leaders refer to the Arctic, they talk about melting ice, resources, and the potential for economic development. The effects of climate change on sea ice have led to new arguments for pushing the limits of what is possible to achieve in a part of the world where cold, ice, winter darkness and vast distances have previously limited industrialization.

Writing on the eve of a meeting of Arctic and Nordic environment ministers in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, SEI’s Annika E. Nilsson reflects on how conditions have changed since 20 years ago, when intensive negotiations laid the foundation for the Arctic political cooperation and peaceful development we have seen since the end of the Cold War.

The Arctic Council provides a forum where countries and indigenous peoples meet to discuss how the future is to be shaped. Without the peaceful developments of recent decades, it would hardly be possible to define the Arctic region’s hydrocarbons and minerals as realistic economic resources. At the recent Arctic Frontiers conference, the Norwegian foreign minister spoke about the Norwegian High North Strategy and how established rules-of-the-game are an important part of the policy that will open opportunities for growth and value creation. Canada will take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council after Sweden, and the Canadian representative also spoke about development for people of the North as an overarching priority including economic growth, strong and sustainable communities and healthy ecosystems.

What place, she asks, does environmental policy have in these new priorities?

Source: Alaska Dispatch, US