Clive Tesar, Head of Communications for the Arctic Programme, attended the ‘2030 North’ conference in Ottawa, Canada. The challenge of the conference was to try to imagine what life in Canada’s North will be like in 2030, and to devise a plan to deal with that new reality.
By Clive Tesar
A central question about policy for the future of the Arctic is “Who will be invited (or will invite themselves) to be involved in setting arctic wide policies?”
It’s a question that has come up several times over the second day of the ‘2030 North’ conference.
There are several different legal considerations – for instance there is talk of the ‘Arctic 5’, the five states that have coastline in the Arctic (Canada, US, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland). Other suggestions say the Arctic Council countries (the Arctic 5 plus Iceland, Sweden, and Finland) should be the ones to make the rules for the Arctic.
But as Rob Huebert, of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary pointed out “Countries we were not thinking about are becoming major players.” As Huebert notes, the South Koreans are now world leaders on developing ice-capable vessels. South Korean shipyards are currently building tankers supposed to be capable of carrying liquefied natural gas though icy waters. Huebert pointed out that China currently has the world’s largest Arctic research vessel.
What was only briefly mentioned in the whole discussion was the place of Indigenous peoples in discussions about the Arctic’s future. Earlier this year, the Inuit Circumpolar Council released its Declaration on Sovereignty (pdf file, right click to download). Part of this declaration reads, “The conduct of international relations in the Arctic and the resolution of international disputes in the Arctic are not the sole preserve of Arctic states or other states; they are also within the purview of the Arctic’s indigenous peoples.”
While the discussion has the most obvious bearing on future development of arctic renewable and non-renewable resource, there is also a strong connection to climate change issues. The whole discussion of Arctic resource development would likely not be reaching such a fevered pitch, if was not for the fact that shrinking ice cover is expected to make Arctic resources more accessible. In other words, a governance regime that will protect the interests of northerners is a key plank in their ability to adapt to a changing Arctic.
This week, Clive Tesar, Head of Communications for the Arctic Programme, is at the ‘2030 North’ conference in Ottawa, Canada. The challenge of the conference is to try to imagine what life in Canada’s North will be like in 2030, and to devise a plan to deal with that new reality.