Arctic Governance : Balancing Challenges and Development

25-06-2012

The Arctic region is experiencing major changes, which are occurring more rapidly than in any other region of the world, mainly as a result of global warming and climate change. Coupled with new technology, changes in the Arctic have rendered resources that were once well beyond our reach accessible. Commercial ships, for example, are now using Arctic routes each summer to shorten the length of their trips between continents; such routes that would have been impassable only a few decades ago. The fragility of the Arctic environment and of its ecosystems has led to growing concern that they may reach a tipping point, after which they would simply collapse. The rising seas caused by melting Arctic glaciers are only one example of the relation. More robust Arctic governance systems need to be developed soon, particularly as the UNFCCC discussions are not progressing as expected. For The Arctic Council, for example, should be given wider powers. Arctic governance will have to strike a balance between protection and development, and between respecting Arctic States and their inhabitants and recognising the legitimate interests of the rest of the world. Several Arctic States have issued Arctic strategy papers, and the European Commission will this month adopt its second Communication on the EU’s Arctic policy.

The Arctic region is experiencing major changes, which are occurring more rapidly than in any other region of the world, mainly as a result of global warming and climate change. Coupled with new technology, changes in the Arctic have rendered resources that were once well beyond our reach accessible. Commercial ships, for example, are now using Arctic routes each summer to shorten the length of their trips between continents; such routes that would have been impassable only a few decades ago. The fragility of the Arctic environment and of its ecosystems has led to growing concern that they may reach a tipping point, after which they would simply collapse. The rising seas caused by melting Arctic glaciers are only one example of the relation. More robust Arctic governance systems need to be developed soon, particularly as the UNFCCC discussions are not progressing as expected. For The Arctic Council, for example, should be given wider powers. Arctic governance will have to strike a balance between protection and development, and between respecting Arctic States and their inhabitants and recognising the legitimate interests of the rest of the world. Several Arctic States have issued Arctic strategy papers, and the European Commission will this month adopt its second Communication on the EU’s Arctic policy.