Global Agenda Council on the Arctic 2012-2013
The increasing complexities of the Arctic Ocean region are matched by equally growing global interests. This large area of sea, islands and icebergs is relatively uninhabited except for indigenous populations; Greenland alone could cover the area from Norway to the Sahara, yet has a population of only 56,648 people. This region, which experienced a heightened level of interest during the Cold War, is now receiving more serious global attention. The environment and ecosystems in the Arctic are both remarkable and vulnerable; however, it is the inanimate components that attract the world’s leaders.
The area’s resource-rich environs are becoming more accessible due to climatic changes, and the worldwide demand for Arctic resources is steadily increasing. As the global community interacts with this fragile area, it is vital that precision, understanding and cooperation be employed.
Global dialogues are concerned with environmental sustainability, mineral extraction, oil and gas development and advancing new trade routes, among others. With ice-free summers predicted in the near future, more efficient trade routes through the high north are becoming possible. Rising demand for hydrocarbons and minerals are pushing suppliers towards new extraction locations, as they become commercially viable.
The key priorities facing the Arctic region revolve around its sustainable development. International collaboration is clearly needed, not only on the behalf of governments but of the business and the scientific communities as well. The time for action is now.
- Arctic sea ice has plunged to the lowest level since satellite records began in the 1970s, to less than 3.5 million square kilometres (The Guardian).
- The Arctic is reckoned to hold around 15% of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30% of those of natural gas (The Economist).
- Growing interest in four key sectors, mineral resources (oil, gas and mining), fisheries, logistics (including shipping) and Arctic tourism, could generate investment reaching US$ 100 billion or more in the Arctic region over the next decade, mostly in the minerals sector (Lloyd’s).
“Like the 'Wild East’, that was Siberia, or the ‘Wild West’ of the USA, the Arctic is the one wild frontier before the last – if the last one is Antarctica – and it deserves properly organized development.”
Artem Volynets, Chief Executive Officer, EN+Group
"What’s happening in the Arctic is affected by what’s going on outside the Arctic, in the rest of the world. So any negative developments that might take place in the Arctic are not necessarily linked to what’s happening in the Arctic, but may be caused by [developments] in other parts of the world."
Vladimir Golitsyn, Judge and President, Seabed Disputes Chamber, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
"[We need to] create an understanding of the need for balanced development – integration of economic and environmental development – and avoid excesses on both sides."
Felix Tschudi, Chairman of the Board and Owner, Tschudi Shipping Company
Arctic Opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North
Chill Out: Why Cooperation is Balancing Conflict Among Major Powers in the New Arctic
The Barents Observer
US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
US Arctic Research Commission
Centre for High North Logistics
Formal Senior Arctic Officials Meeting, Arctic Council
14-15 November 2012
First International Scientific and Practical Conference "Electronic Memory of the Arctic – cultural communication of the circumpolar world"
13-14 December 2012
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
Third International Symposium on Arctic Research
14-17 January 2013
World Snow Forum
17-20 January 2013
Novosibirsk, Russian Federation
Arctic Frontiers: Geopolitics and Marine Production in a Changing Arctic
20-25 January 2013
Arctic Summit, The Economist
12 March 2013
Formal Senior Arctic Officials Meeting
19-21 March 2013
The Council may focus on a point that cuts across multiple issues, such as “Arctic Governance”. This will include other voices beyond the traditional Arctic players, like China, South Korea, Japan, European states and mainland America. Just as important is the private sector, since the inter-connections of the industries’ operations makes their collaboration essential. Because of globalization, the high northern region now interacts with southern areas that have the industrial products and the demand necessary for developing Arctic resources.
Investment resources for infrastructure projects are in tremendous need. A greater understanding of the requirements of shipping development and of mechanisms to promote joint infrastructure investment, as well as coordinated port development are also needed. The Council could foster cross-border cooperation between Arctic states regarding infrastructure needs, thus helping to solve many logistical and transportation issues. The Council also aims to highlight the fact that joint solutions are needed to address the enormous regional challenges.
Often during meetings on Arctic issues, proposals for a complete ban on all regional activities are voiced, yet business developments are under way. Therefore, the Council could promote a balanced integration of economic and environmental development, and ensure new developments are conducted in an organized fashion that preserves the environment while advancing industrial interests.
Goals and Milestones: As a new Council to the Network, its Members will hold two conference calls prior to the Dubai Summit in November. Until this point, the Council will be exploring various ideas and possibilities for work.
Council Manager: Ethan Huntington, Senior Associate, Global Agenda Councils, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Martin Nägele, Director, Deputy Head of the Network of Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org