Polar Regions

Policy Innovation Memorandum

A Strategy to Advance the Arctic Economy

Author: Captain Melissa Bert, USCG

Unlike its Arctic neighbors, the United States is failing to take full advantage of the tremendous economic potential of the Arctic region. Captain Melissa Bert argues for U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention; international polar shipping standards; and an aircraft, icebreaker, and shore-based infrastructure acquisition program funded by Arctic oil and gas lease proceeds.

See more in Arctic; Oil; United States

Primary Sources

GAO Report 14-299: Maritime Infrastructure

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released report 14-299 to congressional requesters in March 2014. The report discusses "(1) current commercial maritime activity in the U.S. Arctic and anticipated activity in the next 10 years, (2) actions taken by government entities in support of planning and developing U.S. Arctic maritime infrastructure, and (3) federal interagency efforts to identify and prioritize Arctic maritime-infrastructure investments."

See more in Arctic; United States; Oceans; Infrastructure

Primary Sources

Joint Statement on the Establishment of Marine Protected Areas

On October 16, 2013, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, France, New Zealand, the United States and The Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Union released a joint statement on establishing marine protected areas in Southern Ocean, in the Ross Sea Region and in East Antarctica, for scientific research and ocean conservation.

See more in Antarctica; Oceans

Primary Sources

U.S. Coast Guard: Arctic Strategy

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp released this maritime governance document on May 21, 2013, which will "guide our efforts in the region over the next 10 years" based on "three key objectives: improving awareness, modernizing governance, and broadening partnerships."

See more in Arctic; Defense Strategy; Oceans

Primary Sources

Declaration of the Establishment of the Arctic Council, 1996

With this agreement (also known as the Ottawa Declaration) the Arctic Council was established on September 19, 1996, by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. The Arctic Council is a forum to promote collaboration among the Arctic States, Arctic Indigenous communities, and other Arctic inhabitants on issues such as sustainable development and environmental protection.

See more in Arctic; Environmental Policy; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity

Primary Sources

Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy

This strategy, also known as the Finnish Initiative, was signed on June 14, 1991 by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the USSR, and the United States, five years before the founding of the Arctic Council. The strategy aims to monitor, protect, promote sustainable development in the Arctic region and recognize the rights of indigenous peoples in relation to environmental issues.

See more in Europe; Arctic; Environmental Policy

Primary Sources

General Secretary Gorbachev’s Speech in Murmansk, October 1987

General Secretary of the Community Party in the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev spoke in Murmansk on October 1, 1967, at the ceremonial meeting on the occasion of the presentation of the order of Lenin (the Soviet Union's highest honor for service to the State) and the gold star to the city of Murmansk. This speech is often credited as the basis for intergovernmental cooperation in the Arctic.

See more in Russian Federation; Arctic; History and Theory of International Relations

Teaching Module

Teaching Notes: The Emerging Arctic

The northern reaches of the planet are melting at a pace few nations can afford to ignore, yielding potentially lucrative returns in energy, minerals, and shipping. But debate is mounting over whether the Arctic can be developed sustainably and peaceably. Teaching notes by Lawson Brigham, Distinguished Professor of Geography and Arctic Policy, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

See more in Arctic; Trade