Sarah Abdelrahim & Joel Clement

As the Arctic experiences increasingly rapid change, it is more important than ever to promote and support actions that enhance the resilience of the region. In May 2017, resilience was reaffirmed as a priority of the Arctic Council, and the Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF) was adopted in the 2017 Fairbanks Ministerial Declaration by the eight Arctic Council States and six Permanent Participants.

The ARAF defines resilience as the ability of a system to bounce back and thrive during and after disturbances and shocks. It emphasizes the importance of considering linked social-ecological systems when developing strategies for resilience in the Arctic, where social and ecological systems are tightly linked. In addition to presenting a set of priorities for building resilience in the Arctic, the ARAF initiates a set of actions to enhance regional coordination and improve shared learning and the exchange of best practices (Arctic Resilience Action Framework, 2017).

Ekaterina Shlapeko

The Arctic region is an area of growing strategic importance, especially in terms of increasing access to natural resources and new transport routes. Nevertheless, the extreme Arctic climate makes the region a challenging place to live and sets lots of tasks in creating an attractive and comfortable environment for the people. There are supporters and opponents of Arctic exploration, thus the Arctic has become a space of collision and intersection of interests for a number of global actors (states, TNCs, NGOs). Many Arctic people are concentrated in the border areas with large disparities, considered as peripheral and lagging behind others. However, the European experience of cross border cooperation (CBC) has proven itself as an effective tool for supporting stability and prosperity of border territories. It is believed that CBC has the potential to transform a border into a possibility for development. Since the 1980s, the EU has been providing border regions with the financial means (INTERREG) to boost co-work in finding solutions to common challenges and to achieve a more balanced and harmonious EU territory.

Most of the Arctic zone of the USSR was closed to foreigners and it was the central authorities who took care of the Northern territories’ development and supply. The situation changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the establishment of the Arctic Council and introduction of Technical Assistance for the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Michael Delaunay

The internet has already changed the lives of billions of people all over the planet and still continues to do so. But in order to fully benefit from what the internet can offer, a broadband connection is essential. In the Arctic this is not yet the case. A large portion of the Arctic region suffers from a bad connection. There exists a significant digital gap between the northern and the southern region of the Arctic countries.

For the majority of the inhabitants of the Arctic regions, internet is very expensive, but not only that; it offers a low bandwidth and a low data cap. This is particularly the case in Nunavut where Inuit rely on only one way to connect: via satellite. Other regions can be connected via micro wave or terrestrial fiber optic cables, but not all of them.

Even if the satellite and microwave connect the northerners to the rest of the World, these technologies are likely to suffer due to the harsh environment (ice, snow storms, electromagnetic storms) that can disrupt, and even cut off completely, the only way to communicate for some of the Indigenous communities.

Anastasia Ufimtseva & Tahnee Prior


A decline in conventional hydrocarbon resources and increasing energy scarcity, along with geopolitical changes, shape today’s global energy governance; at times, pressuring corporations to seek resources in precarious regions like the Arctic. The Arctic is the presumed home of a vast amount of fossil fuels (Carmack et al., 2012). Ongoing research shows that rapid biophysical change continues to open the region to new extractive opportunities and risks. While drilling off the coast of Alaska is halted for the foreseeable future – due to low global oil prices, disappointing exploration outcomes, and vocal public opposition – the development of hydrocarbon resources off the coast of Norway and Russia continues. Russian corporations are particularly active in the Arctic with large hydrocarbon projects like Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) acting as testing grounds for both Russian institutions and corporations.

New extractive opportunities in the Arctic are open to actors both in- and outside the region; with the role of foreign investors increasing in the Russian Arctic. China, for instance, is gradually turning to the Arctic to support Beijing’s political ambitions and to sustain its economic model, dependent on foreign natural resources (Sun, 2014: 40). Concurrently, ongoing economic and political pressures on Russian oil and gas projects have shifted energy cooperation eastward. Sino-Russian collaboration in the exploration of Arctic hydrocarbon resources, started expanding in 2013; when the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) bought a 20 percent stake in the Yamal LNG project.

Morgane Fert-Malka & Alexandra Kekkonen

The policy of the European Union (EU) is analyzed in accordance with its general goals as stated in the Global Strategy, the Joint Communication of April 2016 and other documents defining the EU’s approach towards the Arctic. Four intertwined areas in which the EU can have a greater impact have been identified: (1) International relations and geopolitics, (2) Economic and social policies, (3) Legal footprint and legislative processes, and (4) Scientific and business diplomacy. For each area, an analysis of the current situation and the potential scenario has been undertaken, taking into account the pitfalls and obstacles. As a result of this analysis, recommendations towards a more effective and efficient impact of the EU in the Arctic are proposed.

The Arctic is a region undergoing critical changes, with a variety of actors involved in designing the emerging structures of formal and informal governance there. Climate change in the Arctic will have an environmental, economic and diplomatic impact on the world at large. As the world order is under mutation and the Arctic is emerging as a crucial theatre for international relations, the European Union (EU) could play a key role in Arctic governance.1

Malgorzata (Gosia) Smieszek

For a long time, science has been one of the major platforms for collaboration in the Arctic – both during the Cold War and increasingly after its end. Organizations like the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and initiatives such as the International Polar Year 2007/2008 have been essential in bringing together scientists working on the Arctic from all over the world, enabling them coordination of international polar research activity on a large scale. That cooperation consequently contributed to the advancement in scientific understandings of the effects of climate change and transformations occurring in the region.

Recognizing the importance of cooperation in scientific research across the circumpolar Arctic to its own work, the Arctic Council (AC) decided at the Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna in 2013 to establish a Task Force to work towards an arrangement on improved scientific research cooperation among the eight Arctic States (the Scientific Cooperation Task Force, or SCTF). While the Arctic states initially considered adopting a Memorandum of Understanding, it soon became clear that to effectively address issues such as access to research areas and movement of people and equipment across borders, a legally binding agreement might be needed. The negotiations of such a text were successfully completed in July 2016 and in May 2017 at the tenth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska foreign affairs ministers of the eight Arctic states signed the “Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation.” This briefing note reflects on the process leading to and the provisions of the Agreement as well as on the implications it might have for the cooperative international research in the Arctic. Moreover, as the third legally binding instrument negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council, the Agreement is worth consideration from the broader perspective of Arctic governance and its meaning to the Council itself.

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