Moving North: Arctic Development in Times of Geopolitical Changes

Anu Fredriksson
DescriptionThe past two decades have witnessed increased attention and interest towards the Arctic, though for varying reasons. Opening up of sea lanes and estimates of the region's natural resource potential led to a discussion about a race to the Arctic. Growing awareness of climate change and its impact, visible for the inhabitants of the region in their everyday lives, has greatly contributed to global awareness. Most recently, the drastic geopolitical changes following the Russian aggression in Ukraine have not only tumulted the Arctic collaboration as we knew it, but have also greatly changed the Arctic playground.

Arctic cooperation is currently characterized by the rupture of the global security landscape. The implications of these developments have rippled through every aspect of Arctic collaboration. The sanctions create tremendous change and room for many unintended consequences, also locally in the Arctic. The form of continued regional, environmental or business collaboration is uncertain.

Simultaneously, the pan-Arctic region faces societal challenges including outmigration, calling for increased efforts to focus on building modern societies with opportunities for the younger generations. The global discussion about the Arctic is a constant balancing act between the will to preserve and the need to develop. Geopolitical tensions bring an added layer to this balancing act. How do we balance the contradicting needs and challenges as the Arctic manoeuvres from one global crisis to another, and as the ramifications of the current crisis are still partially to be unveiled? How do we ensure true local influence on decisions – whether related to business and technology or societal development?

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