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Posted: February 9th, 2023
Strategic Assessment of Development of the Arctic: Assessment Conducted for the European Union.
The Arctic is a unique and rapidly changing region that holds significant strategic importance for the European Union (EU). The region is facing complex and interconnected challenges including rapid climate change, shifting maritime transport patterns, changes in the nature of Arctic fisheries, and the development of oil and gas resources. This paper provides a strategic assessment of the key drivers of change in the Arctic and their implications for the EU.
Timo Koivurova and Adam Stępień (Arcc Centre, University of Lapland) highlight the growing significance of the Arctic to the EU. The region has a growing strategic importance for the EU as it represents a major source of raw materials, energy resources and transport routes. The EU has a keen interest in ensuring that the development of the region takes place in a sustainable and responsible manner.
Mikko Strahlendorff (Finnish Meteorological Institute) addresses the issue of climate change in the Arctic. He argues that the Arctic is experiencing unprecedented levels of warming, which is having significant impacts on the region’s ecosystems, including melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, and changes in the timing and distribution of species. Climate change is also affecting Arctic communities and economies, particularly through its impacts on traditional livelihoods, such as hunting, fishing and reindeer herding.
Gunnar Sander (Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre) discusses the changing nature of Arctic maritime transport. The Arctic is becoming increasingly accessible due to the melting of sea ice and the increasing number of ships traversing the region. This is leading to the development of new shipping lanes, which have the potential to reduce shipping distances between Europe and Asia by up to 40%. However, the development of Arctic maritime transport is also posing significant challenges, such as the risk of oil spills and the impact on the environment and communities.
Sigmar Arnarsson (UiT Arctic University of Norway) examines the changing nature of Arctic fisheries. The Arctic Ocean is home to some of the world’s most productive fisheries, which are of growing importance to global food security. However, the changing climate and oceanography of the region is causing shifts in the distribution of fish stocks, which are challenging traditional fishing practices and leading to increased competition between different countries for access to these resources.
Michał Łuszczuk (Committee of Polar Research – Polish Academy of Sciences) looks at the development of oil and gas resources in Arctic waters. The Arctic is believed to hold significant reserves of oil and gas, and the development of these resources has the potential to play a major role in meeting the world’s energy needs. However, this development is also presenting significant challenges, such as the high cost of exploration and production, the risks of environmental damage and the lack of infrastructure in the region.
Kim van Dam and Annee Scheepstra (Arctic Centre, University of Groningen) examine the issue of mining in the European Arctic. The Arctic is rich in a range of minerals, including precious metals and minerals, and the development of these resources has the potential to play a major role in the region’s economy. However, this development is also posing significant environmental and social challenges, such as the impact on sensitive Arctic ecosystems and the impact on indigenous communities.
Kirsi Latola (Thule Institute of the University of Oulu, University of the Arctic Thematic Networks) discusses land-use pressures in the European Arctic. The Arctic is facing increasing pressure from land-use activities, such as resource extraction, tourism, and transportation. These activities are having significant impacts on the region’s ecosystems and
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