Sustaining resource development, sustaining Arctic communities? The ‘social’ and the ‘sustainable’ in the Arctic energyscape:

Lead Author Hanna, Lempinen
Institution Contact Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland PO Box 122 96101 ROVANIEMI FINLAND
Theme Theme 2: Vulnerability of Arctic Societies
Session Name 2.2 Resource development and building capacity in Arctic communities
Datetime Thu, Sep 15, 2016 11:00 AM - 11:15 AM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Growth in global energy demand, dwindling reserves, warming climate and technological developments are pushing energy extraction further towards the previously inaccessible North. At least on the level of rhetorics, the Arctic region is on the brink of becoming the world’s “new energy province”, the “treasure chamber” for Arctic states and energy companies. In political and popular debates, the region is reserved the role of oil and gas storehouse which will feed the “energy-hungry world”.

Also in the Arctic energyscape, sustainability is a key argument both for and against individual energy projects as well as developing the Arctic energy province as a whole. While economic and environmental sustainability dimensions are frequently highlighted, any social aspects associated with the regional energy concern remain silenced, sidelined and simplified.

Against the backdrop of academic debates over the notions of both ‘energy’ and the social, in this presentation I argue that the ways in which both energy and (social) sustainability are conceptualized in the Arctic energyscape are fundamentally inadequate. Narrow understandings of energy as a hydrocarbon commodity exported from the region and social sustainability as socioeconomic indicators and/or safeguarding indigenous livelihoods are not sufficient in terms of grasping the regional energy concern nor for promoting a more energy equal north.
 Download to your calendar