Arctic Governance Policy
The eight Arctic governments include Canada, Denmark (which includes Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, The Russian Federation, and United States of America. The Arctic Council is the key international forum in which Arctic governments address Arctic policy. While there have been discussions among Arctic governments about international policy, as of yet there is no specific treaty, other than the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) governing management of the arctic territory beyond the 200-mile coastal limits.
Arctic warming will impact the region’s wildlife and its 4 million inhabitants. The melting of the ice cover will stress the Arctic marine environment, but will also provide opportunity for economic development in a region rich in natural resources. With a rising global demand in oil, gas and other natural resources, there will be tremendous economic pressure on the Arctic nations to expand oil development in the Arctic Ocean.
As Arctic sea ice melts, there is the strong possibility of expanded shipping. It is also possible that new opportunities for fishing may be found in formerly ice-covered waters. The extent to which Arctic nations are able to strengthen existing cooperative arrangements to manage this transformation will determine how sustainable this expanded economic development will be and whether the Arctic’s wildlife and habitats can be conserved for future generations.The international conservation organization, World Wildlife Fund, has recently published a report on arctic governance policy covering the issues mentioned above:
A New Sea: The Need for a Regional Agreement on Management and Conservation of the Arctic Marine Environment by Brooks Yeager and Dr. Robert Huebert.
Download the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment's Key Finding on reduced sea ice, marine transport and access to resources (PDF)