Monday, November 8, 2010
With events unfolding rapidly in the Arctic, it can be hard to know if you’re in the know when it comes to understanding circumpolar politics. For what it’s worth, here are the sources I’ve found most useful for keeping up to date in the constantly changing world of Arctic geopolitics.
Barents Observer - A great source of news on Arctic security and politics, from the perspective of Barents regional partners Russia, Norway, Finland and Sweden. These guys know everything that is happening, and do a significant amount of independent analysis as well. Highly recommended.
Nunatsiaq News - Nunatsiaq News is Nunavut’s territorial paper, and it is well done by any standard. It provides great analysis, commentary and news coverage of both domestic and circumpolar events, and provides the southern reader with an understanding of how things are perceived in the North. It’s hard to quantify the value that having such a high quality of journalism provides to the accountability and good governance of Nunavut, but it’s significant. And while I’ve never met journalist Jane George, everything she writes is smart. I’m a fan.
WWF Arctic / The Circle – More than any other NGO in the Arctic, the WWF has been a leader in generating ideas, including my pet favourite, the framework for a regional seas agreement for the Arctic. Their publications are of a very high quality, but The Circle, their newish quarterly magazine, has been a standout.
The Canadian International Council (CIC) papers – social scientists Franklyn Griffiths, Whitney Lackenbauer and Rob Huebert published a series of research papers on Arctic sovereignty and security as fellows of the CIC in 2008-09. Read their articles and you will have an excellent sense of the political issues and debates involved as Canada seeks its way in an increasingly significant circumpolar world.
The CIC’s Behind the Headlines series also ran two papers on the Arctic, one by Griffiths, Lackenbauer, and Huebert as well as Paul Okalik and Suzanne Lalonde; and another by legal expert Donald McRae. Both are worth a read for those seeking more than just a superficial understanding of sovereignty issues.
Northern Exposure: Peoples, Powers and Prospects in Canada’s North (2009) – Published by the Institute for Research in Public Policy (IRPP), this volume features a series of articles by Canada’s foremost northern experts, on issues as wide ranging as security, education, governance and development. Reading this book will give you as good of an understanding of the major issues affecting the North as anything out there, and somehow ties them all together in an interesting conclusion.
Arctic Front (2008) - Written by northern experts Ken Coates, Bill Morrison, Whitney Lackenbauer and Greg Poelzer, this book on Arctic sovereignty examines Canada’s failures in claiming and developing the North. It provides specific recommendations for future actions and assessments of current ones. Great especially for history buffs, this book won the prestigious Donner Prize in 2008.
Like any international institution the Arctic Council has its problems, but one of the areas where it has excelled is in commissioning high quality scientific reports. The best ones are the Arctic Human Development Report (2004), which profiles the political, social, cultural and economic aspects of Arctic life; the ground-breaking Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (2004), which providing excellent scientific proof of the warming trend in the Arctic, as well as the impacts this will likely have on fauna, flora and human life; and the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (2009), an extremely valuable practical tool by which to guide policy making as Arctic shipping develops.
Of course, I’d be remiss of I didn’t give the Eye on the Arctic its props. It provides coverage of cultural, societal, political and scientific news in the Arctic, and while distinctively Canadian, offers a circumpolar flavour.
Posted by Voyage Adviser at 4:04 AM