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Social impacts of climate change and resource development in the Arctic: Implications for Arctic governance

Gisele M. Arruda (Oxford Brookes University and Anvivo.org, Oxford, UK)
Sebastian Krutkowski (True Volunteer.org, UK)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the socio-political implications of climate change as the melting ice ignites new debates over territorial sovereignty of Arctic coastal states. Previously ice-jammed waterways are now open, and a number of recent geological surveys have identified new potential sites with vast energy resources. Competition over resources causes states to question each other’s jurisdiction over specific parts of the Arctic. What used to be internal waters of one particular state can now be referred to as international waters by other actors interested in the benefits of resource extraction. Arctic indigenous groups, especially the Inuit, and Sami are directly affected by the current governance patterns that are fragmented across too many different bodies dealing with maritime navigation, tourism, fisheries and administration.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a comparative study based on literature review combined with regional reports related to climatic and social impacts analysed jointly with live elements provided by international conferences discussions, workshops and direct conversations in “petit comités” style held in Norway, Greenland and Canada in the period of October 2014 until the first quarter of July 2015, with the representatives of Sami and Inuit communities.

Findings

The paper demonstrates that Arctic governance is currently fragmented and the largest inter-governmental organisation in the region, the Arctic Council, has only advisory powers, and although its norm-making method helps with the design, it is not effective to implement Arctic-wide policies for responsible management of energy resources.

Research limitations/implications

The research considered methodological aspects like the difficulty in measuring the elements researched mainly when dealing with the diverse nature of responses from the indigenous populations to environmental impacts and the varied nature of effects in different studied areas.

Practical implications

As the Arctic is set to become the main global resource base and a major trade corridor, it is crucial to identify the dangers that poor institutional design can cause in relation to the control of extractive industries, sustainable development and the well-being of the region’s indigenous population.

Social implications

In addition to governance reform, social arrangements should follow to ensure the indigenous populations can also participate in the process to adapt and mitigate the impact of climate change on their traditional livelihood strategies.

Originality/value

The paper provides an overview on governance reform and social arrangements to ensure that indigenous populations can also participate in the process to adapt and mitigate the impact of climate change on their traditional livelihood strategies. As the Arctic is set to become the main global resource base and a major trade corridor, the paper identified the risks of poor institutional design in relation to the control of extractive industries, sustainable development and the well-being of the region’s indigenous population.

Keywords

Citation

Arruda, G.M. and Krutkowski, S. (2017), "Social impacts of climate change and resource development in the Arctic: Implications for Arctic governance", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 277-288. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEC-08-2015-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited