Interest in the future of the Arctic is running high, motivated in large part by belief that climate change will open new possibilities (and unleash new threats). Wealth from shipping and natural resource extraction features prominently in narratives about the Arctic in the media, and governance of the region has become a major concern as new actors demand influence.
The authors use three components of current discourse about the Arctic to help reveal connections between how the region is constructed and how the right to decide its future is articulated. Voices are the actors who participate in the discursive construction of Arctic futures, with varying degrees of influence. Resources are objects upon which actors inscribe values, thus locating them in the discourse. Governance refers to the structural features through which action is regulated within spaces, restricting also the range of legitimate actors.
The authors demonstrate the usefulness of these concepts through brief case studies of coal on Spitsbergen, hydrocarbons in the Barents Sea and whaling in the North Atlantic. The authors conclude by emphasizing the value of a historical perspective to understanding contemporary debates about the future of the Arctic.