Mistra Arctic Sustainable Development - New Governance

There is an unprecedented level interest in the Arctic, partly a result of climate change and sea ice retreat that may allow for increased shipping traffic as well as expanded oil and gas exploration. While most attention is focused on the High Arctic, other areas of the Arctic are also affected by increasing economic activities, including the northernmost parts of Europe. These developments have stimulated state-level political engagements as well as political activity among Arctic residents.

The mission for the Mistra-funded programme Arctic Sustainable Development – New Governance, which runs from April 2014 to 2017, is to provide a framework for nuanced understanding of the conditions for development in the European Arctic by focusing on the historical construction of resources, the emergence and effectiveness of governance structures, and the local and regional impacts of global trends. The programme focuses on the construction of the European Arctic through three research questions that address the links between processes at international, national, regional and local levels in key resource use activities:

 • How have particular resource-based activities been established and legitimized, and which actors have played key roles in these processes?
 • How are these patterns continued in current governance processes, and what are the possibilities for changing these?
 • What are the effects on sub-regional and local levels, and how can governance for sustainable development be supported?

SEI is focusing primarily on a work package on the changing global context of the European Arctic. Its aim is to analyse the broader, global context of governance and sustainable development in the European Arctic, with particular attention to interactions between environmental change, resource demand, the global economy, and geopolitical changes.

The work will synthesize the international literature on global drivers of change and use scenarios to provide a set of narratives of global change projections that can be used as background for analysing the potential future role of governance. This will be relevant for the specific context of the European Arctic but also at a more general level for understanding the potential and limitations of Arctic governance in a world of rapid environmental and political change.

Arctic Sustainable Development – New Governance is led by Umeå University and also includes collaboration with KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Learn more about SEI’s work on the Arctic »