Phase 3 (2011-2014)
The Emerging Arctic Security Environment
Project Leader(s)Huebert, Rob
Climate change is fundamentally reshaping the Arctic region. Boundary disputes, newly viable transportation routes, access to resources, and governance issues have generated significant questions about Arctic security and circumpolar geopolitics in the twenty-first century. Anticipating future prospects for competition, conflict and cooperation in the region requires a systematic examination of the new forces at play, both internationally and domestically. Our project examines the fundamental questions: what is Arctic security? What should policy makers anticipate that the circumpolar world will look like in the future, given the various forces that are now transforming this region? These questions will be posed at the international and national levels to discern what senior government officials, indigenous groups, corporate interests, scientists, academics, and Northern residents perceive to be the most significant security and safety challenges in the Arctic, and to determine what unilateral, bilateral and multilateral mechanisms should be in place to address them. This project will make two primary contributions: one policy focused and the other academic. First it will add to the public policy debate about the evolving Arctic security environment. Our research team will critically assess the interplay between traditional, state-based military security and environmental, health, and societal security concerns. Our development of future scenarios – based upon a robust knowledge of past decision-making processes and practices, Northerner’s experiences and priorities, and scientific modelling about climate change in the region – will facilitate responsible policy development. In linking international and domestic security practices to human impacts, we will generate more integrated tools to anticipate the consequences of security action/inaction on Northern ecosystems and peoples. This will improve Canada’s capacity to deal with external challenges in a way that is sensitive to, and better integrates, Northerners’ concerns and priorities. Second this project will advance the academic debates about how best to understand the relationship between environmental, political, and socio-economic processes that are changing ideas about Arctic security. Community consultations will ground our analyses of how the changing geopolitics of the Arctic will impact Northerners’ culture, well-being, and economies. We will refine existing frameworks and models to incorporate the complexity of these new forces, better explain the actions that are now being taken, and generate appropriate lessons for future relationship-building.