Arctic policies as poor instruments to promote sustainable development, policy coherence, and more integrated regulations in the North

Lead Author Adam, Stepien
Institution Contact Arctic Centre, University of Lapland PL122. 96101 Rovaniemi Finland
Theme Theme 2: Vulnerability of Arctic Societies
Session Name 2.1 The role of law and institutions in Arctic transformation process
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 02:00 PM - 02:20 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Contemporary legal and governance systems are often criticized for being fragmented and departmentalized. That is a challenges as the pursuit of sustainable development calls for policy integration, co-ordination and enhanced coherence of states’ actions. Scholars and analysts encourage policy-makers to apply a holistic approach to governance, to cut across sectors, and to take account of multidimensional interconnections within social-environmental systems. In the context of Arctic regions, one instrument to achieve greater coherence are Arctic policies adopted by Arctic and non-Arctic states as well as by the European Union. These policies in most cases originated from the need to produce an Arctic foreign policy stance. Nonetheless, they ultimately serve as coherence-enhancing practices, aiming at making state activities within (or directed towards) the Arctic to be more integrated, synergetic or consistent. The paper examines whether the process of making of Arctic policies can “bring together” various strands of actors’ presence in the region and contribute to the sustainable development of the Arctic. In particular, the policy documents and activities of Canada, the EU, and Finland are considered. The conclusions are discouraging. The notion of sustainable development in Arctic policies is used rather to obscure the contradictions than to support a clearer course of action. Too many aspects and sectors are included in Arctic policies for them to be focused and operationalizable. They are usually more about labeling various issues as “Arctic” than introducing tangible coordination or integration. Arctic policies are generally marginal within policy-systems, which makes them collections of existing actions with very limited influence on sectoral policy-making. Eventually, the pursuit of coherence is an intensely political act of choosing how sustainable development is understood, which priorities and interest groups are dominant and around which issues coherence is being built.
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