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Arctic Governance in an Era of Transformative Change: Critical Questions, Governance Principles, Ways Forward

Report of the Arctic Governance Project, 14 April 2010

Executive summary

The Arctic is experiencing a profound transformation driven by the forces of climate change and globalization and resulting in tighter economic and geopolitical links between the region and the rest of the world. This cascade of developments makes it timely to assess the adequacy of existing Arctic governance systems and to consider adjusting these systems or creating new ones to meet emerging needs for Arctic governance. Success in this endeavor requires the identification of critical questions regarding needs for governance, the formulation of normative guidelines or principles pertaining to governance, and the development of a perspective that emphasizes stewardship as an overarching goal. Foreseeable needs for governance in the Arctic center on building trust, enhancing regulatory frameworks, introducing holistic approaches, promoting adaptation, securing the Arctic as a zone of peace, achieving regional sustainability, strengthening policy mechanisms, and amplifying Arctic voices in global settings. Good governance will be best served, at least for now, by honoring, implementing, and enhancing the provisions of existing treaties and other governance arrangements. There are numerous opportunities to improve Arctic governance systems by strengthening the Arctic Council, establishing regulatory mechanisms to address sectoral issues through appropriate international bodies, institutionalizing the science/policy interface, and building trust through dialogue among key Arctic constituencies.