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Arctic governance and the question of ´fit´ in an era of globally transformative change

a critical geopolitics of regional international cooperation


Regional international governance has emerged as a significant topic in literature and practice. It is particularly relevant in the Arctic region, which is changing rapidly in ways that fundamentally affect ecosystems and societies, at the same time as access to new resources and shipping routes has raised political stakes. This project addresses the question: What are the potential and limitations of Arctic international regional governance to contribute to stakeholders´ differently positioned goals and priorities? In a context where drivers of change are often global yet powers to intervene lie mainly at the national and subnational levels, it analyzes the role of Arctic regional governance through a critical geopolitics lens. We will use content analysis of policy statements and media coverage as well as interviews to analyze how various actors frame challenges in relation to governance fit - the appropriate scale and scope of governance in relation to the problem to be solved - and how different framings travel in a mediatized world. The development of Arctic governance, with the Arctic Council as a central feature, has been part of the construction of the Arctic as a region. Global environmental change, globalization, and geopolitical shifts now challenge this framing, with a need to understand how stakeholders leverage alternatives that favor their particular interests.

Funding agency: Formas

Duration: 2015-2018

In a video still image a Russian flag is planted by the Mir-1 mini submarine on the seafloor under the Arctic ice sheet in August 2007. Several northern countries, including Denmark, Canada, United States, Norway, and Russia have competing claims over which country has rights to the mineral and carbon resources under the ocean floor. (Photo: Association of Russian Polar Explorers)