The Future of Polar Governance: Knowledge, Laws, Regimes, and Resources

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British Antarctic Survey

Madingley Road

Cambridge

CB3 0ET

United Kingdom

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Keynote Speakers:

Professor Klaus Dodds (Royal Holloway University of London)

Professor Graham Huggan (University of Leeds)

Dr Roger Norum (University of Leeds)

Jane Rumble (Head of Polar Regions Department, Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

The British Antarctic Survey, working with the University of Leeds and Royal Holloway, University of London, will be hosting a workshop on the future of polar governance. The timing of the conference is not coincidental – sixty years ago, the International Geophysical Year (1957-58) initiated the promise of global scientific and political co-operation in the polar regions and their connection to planet Earth. The International Polar Year (2007-8) followed up on that promissory note. The promise of mineral resources in the Arctic also unleashed global speculation about a so-called ‘Scramble for the Arctic’ with fears that conflict, not co-operation, would prevail.

In our workshop, we wish to consider what and where might the future of polar governance lie? International organizations and forums such as the Arctic Council and Antarctic Treaty System are highly significant actors but they do not enjoy a monopoly on polar governance. Newer actors such as China, the European Parliament, the Arctic Circle, commercial operators and high value celebrities and philanthropists are also part of the equation along with indigenous, first nations and aboriginal peoples living in the Arctic for millennia. Historically, colonial and Cold War-era encounters and interventions have had a decisive impact on contemporary polar governance.

Science, resources, and geopolitics often worked together and sometimes against one another: as scientific networks and knowledge exchange came into contact with the national security and economic priorities of governments and the interests and wishes of communities. More recently, fears have been expressed about the role that ‘great powers’ such as Russia and China might play in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and the implications therein for consensus-based governance, resource management and international co-operation. It is also timely to explore the role of private actors in polar environmental governance given a rapidly changing climate, the vulnerability of polar ecosystems, the decline in Arctic summer sea ice, and increased economic activity in polar regions in areas such as tourism and resource development including biological prospecting. Indigenous peoples in the Arctic continue, meanwhile, to press for their cultural, legal and resource rights to be acknowledged and respected by all parties.

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British Antarctic Survey

Madingley Road

Cambridge

CB3 0ET

United Kingdom

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