Interests are awakening globally to take advantage of extensive energy, shipping, fishing, and tourism opportunities associated with diminishing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Arctic Options is a 3-year research project will develop and demonstrate an international, interdisciplinary and inclusive process to enhance the practice of governance for sustainability in Arctic coastal-marine systems, balancing: (a) national interests and common interests; (b) environmental protection, social equity and economic prosperity; and (c) needs of present and future generations. To achieve this holistic project goal, we will examine the natural and living environment; built environment; natural resource development; and governance. The process will include: interdisciplinary data aggregation; geospatial integration of the data to reveal plausible developmental scenarios; annual workshops to generate infrastructure and policy options; and applications of the findings to current issues of Arctic governance.
The sustainability process will be elucidated through case-studies focusing on current ‘hot spots’ in the Arctic Ocean - The Bering Strait (United States and Russian interests), the High Seas (beyond coastal state jurisdiction), and West Greenland (single state interests). We will engage policy makers in the process from bodies like the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, which has a transboundary remit in the Arctic Ocean. This project has established links to the SEARCH (Study of Environmental Change: www.arcus.org/search) and ACCESS (Arctic Climate Change, Economy and Society: www.access-eu.org) projects that are supported extensively within the United States and Europe, respectively. The holistic process we develop to generate and share options for Arctic coastal-marine sustainability will be memorialized by publications and through a video series involving lessons of ‘science diplomacy’ to further stimulate education by and for the benefit of all stakeholders (i.e., representatives of government agencies, academia, industry, non-governmental organizations and civil society).
University of California press release
Arctic Options: Holistic Integration for Arctic Coastal Marine Sustainability is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation Arctic Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (ArcSEES) Program to NCEAS and UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.
More information about this project.