Big Picture

2024 Big Picture Sessions

The changes in the Arctic are being shaped by political, economic, and environmental factors both within and outside the region.

Shifts in geopolitics, increased military activities, NATO expansion, and the continuing push for a green transition require measured and deliberate actions. Evolving Arctic development, land and ocean management, and loss of ice will influence local communities. Conversely, Arctic initiatives driven by locals and Indigenous peoples can have global significance.

Responses will need to consider changing coexistence structures, increasing maritime activities, advanced technology, cross-border collaboration and continuous policy development. It is essential to focus on proactive responses rather than reactive measures when dealing with these issues. But are we too caught up in solving immediate problems to consider creating better long-term approaches?

Global Actions/ Arctic Reactions

The past year saw an escalating war in Europe, record-breaking Arctic temperatures and wildfires. Concerns about inflation, supply chains and global security are on the rise. Despite this we also saw an amicable Arctic Council Chairship transition and progress towards the green shift.

Shifting global cooperation mechanisms impact security, logistics, and infrastructure, creating knock-on reactions for Arctic development.  Urgent cross-border actions are needed to respond to Arctic-related concerns.

This session will focus on the current global and Arctic state of affairs, examining the influence global actions have on the region. The successful transition of the Arctic Council Chairship has shed positive light for pan-Arctic collaboration, and how to strategically plan for the Arctic’s future will be paramount moving forward.

Picture: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Arctic Security - Local Resilience

Growing geopolitical shifts, rising military presence, and NATO expansion in the Arctic are impacting the region.

Heightened military presence calls for more cross-border collaboration, on a national, regional and local level. Different sectors must adapt to new tasks, making effective governance structures essential.

A strong civil society, encompassing infrastructure, supply chains, and crisis preparedness, is essential for achieving total defence. This concept underscores that during times of emergencies, all aspects of society, be they military or civilian, are integral to collective preparedness. Are the procedures for information sharing and community engagement in place when swift decisions are required?

The geopolitical tension may hasten infrastructure development and while regional suppliers will play a pivotal role, their capacity is a concern. Do regional, local and Indigenous communities have a say in the development of total defence and how can it positively contribute to regional development?

Photo: Sivilforsvarets Kompetansesenter

Navigating Arctic Realities

Arctic shipping is evolving and on the global agenda. Alternative green fuels and updated infrastructure are needed to enhance efficiency, serving new ports and routes.

As sea ice melts, new passages become accessible, raising geopolitical interests and the possibility of accidents. Ensuring safe navigation amidst changing or uncharted corridors demands international cooperation, robust maritime regulations, and advanced technologies.

Sustainable practices and zero-emission technology are crucial. Striking a balance between economic interests and ecological preservation, whilst keeping in mind the Arctic realities, is key in this fragile region. What are the new initiatives promoting greener Arctic shipping and green shipping corridors in the Arctic?

Photo: Jamie Anderson, APPG Polar Regions Secretariat

Rethinking Arctic Development

In the Arctic, economic development is shifting from a singular profit focus to embracing multiple values, reflecting a need for co-existence amid diverse interests. For business activities to be successful we need to consider sustainable development, human rights, environmental concerns, and local benefits.

Despite recent conflicts surrounding land use related to energy development or mining, there are successful examples from local and Indigenous communities. What level of benefits for the local communities is needed for them to justify development of the Arctic natural resources?

The prioritization of opportunities with achievable outcomes is essential for the Arctic to contribute to these developments and balance conflicting interests. Can striking a balance between multiple values shift our focus from off-limit opportunities to opportunities with achievable outcomes?

Photo: Finnfjord AS

Insights into Arctic AI

The implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Arctic span across multiple domains, including security and safety of human operations, military aspects, improved monitoring and forecasting, economics, and climate research.

In the Arctic, AI will bolster safety by analysing real-time data for navigation, guiding vessels by optimizing routes and detecting hazards, or addressing emergencies and aiding in Search and Rescue operations. Economic developments, especially in the blue sector, can be accelerated by AI, whilst applying the most sustainable solutions.

Advancements in AI coupled with historical observations and Indigenous and traditional knowledge can further enable the advanced modelling of future scenarios for the Arctic. What prerequisites need to be met for Arctic stakeholders to participate in and benefit from this development?

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