Dorothea Wehrmann

In the past twenty years, the Arctic Council has become the most important international forum for policy making in the Arctic. Another success ascribed to the intergovernmental forum is the inclusion of emerging issues in its work. With regard to the overall circumpolar agenda, Klaus Dodds and Mark Nuttall observed a representational shift and argued that recently issues related to business are increasingly prioritized. The purpose of this article is two-fold: It first examines in how far the agenda of the Arctic Council has shifted similarly. It further addresses the identification of “emerging issues” more generally to discuss how concerns related to business have been introduced in the Arctic Council in the first place. In this regard, the article focuses on priorities set by member states during their chairmanships as member states are widely perceived as agenda-shapers in the Arctic Council and touches on three central questions: What priorities were set under the different Arctic Council chairmanships in the past? Why were these priorities regarded as important in their respective programs? And how were these priorities reviewed in the Arctic Council? To address these questions, this article looks predominantly at official Chairmanship programs, the contextualization of issues related to business and their discussion in Ministerial meetings. In the conclusion, this article offers an assessment of whether or not the Arctic Council is moving from being a forum enforcing environmental cooperation to becoming a “business forum” and discusses the wider implications of shifting agendas in the Arctic Council

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