GeoPolitics in the High North
GeoPolitics in the High North is a research programme running from 2008 to 2012. The programme aims at developing new knowledge about the interaction of actors in the High North. Conducted by the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies with partners and associates, the programme is financed through the Research Council of Norway.
Why the High North?
High energy prices and technological advances have made it possible to exploit petroleum resources in areas that used to be inaccessible. Due to climate change, new sea transportation routes may open up – shortening the distance from Europe and North America to Asia. The demand for white fish from the Barents Sea is steadily rising on international markets, making Barents Sea fishing a billion dollar industry.
Two decades after the end of the Cold War, commercial and cultural exchanges between Russia and its Arctic neighbours seem to be experiencing an upswing. Many actors on the international scene, both states and private interests, including emerging economies in Asia, now show a keen interest in the Arctic and the European High North. Thus, there is more to the Northern euphoria than just political rhetoric.
Environmental risks have moved high up on the agenda. The effects of climate change threaten the livelihoods of indigenous populations. Changes in sea temperatures might lead to changes in fish stocks' migration pattern. Conflicting interests create a potential for rivalry between various actors – a potential aggravated by important, unsolved jurisdictional issues. Moreover, security in a military-strategic sense is experiencing a renaissance. As with the expansion of economic activities in the region, Russia’s renewed self-assertiveness and intention of rebuilding and modernising its armed forces, including its strategically important Northern Fleet, will also serve to revive states’ interest and involvement in the region.
So the region has a considerable potential for economic growth in several sectors. But at the same time, there are numerous challenges. Through cooperation between Norwegian and international partners, this programme will create an international arena for research and debate on challenges in the High North.
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