The Arctic This Week Take Five: Week of 24 October, 2022 – The Arctic Institute

As reported by Eye on the Arctic on October 24, the Faroe Islands launched a new Arctic strategy at the Arctic Circle Assembly 2022 in Reykjavík, Iceland earlier this month. The strategy focuses on eight keystone policy areas, including security, the importance of international cooperation, the environment, and sustainable economic development. The Faroese Arctic Policy also defines climate change as the greatest contemporary challenge, and one that can only be solved via coordinated international action. (Eye on the Arctic)
Take 1: Almost 10 years have passed since the publication of the Faroe Islands’ previous Arctic strategy, notable for being developed separately from the broader Arctic strategy of Denmark under whose external sovereignty this self-governing nation remains. In the 2013 strategy, the Arctic security and stability component was mainly related to the potential drawbacks of using the Northern Sea Route. However, if before, NATO was mentioned only in the context of joint search and rescue exercises, nowadays, the nature of collaboration with the Alliance has changed. The Faroes intend to participate in decision-making processes relevant to military policy measures in the High North within NATO. And their vision for maintaining the Arctic security environment does not include a dialogue with Russia, since Moscow is challenging the Arctic’s status quo. Moreover, it is becoming evident that the Faroese Home Rule Government has begun to reconsider the Islands’ position in Arctic governance separately from its metropole. It is likely that the nation has become increasingly aware of its significant role in a possible escalation in the region, with the strategy an example of how the changing political landscape is elevating small states that were previously undervalued in the context of circumpolar security. (Foreign Policy, ResearchGate
As reported by CBC News on October 21, Joint Task Force North (JFTN), which oversees all Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations in the Canadian Arctic, has informed that Canada’s three northern regions are not suffering from the military personnel shortages the rest of the nation is currently experiencing. According to Major Bonnie Wilken of JFTN public affairs, northern operations will be going ahead as planned, with Operation Nanook-Nunalivut scheduled to take place in March of this year. (CBC News
Take 2: The current military narrative dictates that Canada must boost the defense capacities of its northernmost frontiers, despite not actually encountering any conventional military threats to its northern territories. According to this thinking, otherwise there is a risk that Russia will direct its strategic capabilities toward the Canadian North. Therefore, accelerated movements to improve the overall military performance of the northern regions are frequently justified by Moscow’s hostile actions and the military buildup on its Arctic territories. These actions also include the participation of Indigenous peoples. The CAF are already striving to strengthen links with Indigenous communities through regular conversations with their representatives and through Operation Nanook, a set of joint military drills in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Despite all security-related successes, however, there is no doubt that military projects are radically transforming the Canadian Arctic’s human and physical environment. Its landscape and inhabitants are now being viewed through a military prism as a series of shifting strategic viewpoints, something which poses serious threats to Indigenous people’s capacity to preserve their identity and the settings they live in. (Canadian Dimension, CBC News
As reported by High North News on October 26, the Arctic expedition GoNorth departed from Svalbard with the Norwegian icebreaker RV Kronprins Haakon after several years of preparation. The scientific collective of 35 people will be working to collect data and gain knowledge on Norway’s Arctic waters and continental shelf. The program will explore the areas north of Svalbard, including the Nansen Basin in 2022 and the Gakkel Ridge in 2023. It will also include study of the areas between Svalbard and Greenland’s northern coast and the passages to the Canadian Ellesmere Island in 2024. (High North News)
Take 3: GoNorth is a practical consequence of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf‘s (CLCS) 2009 approval of Norway’s request to expand its northern seabed. But what interests lie behind this expedition, besides collecting scientific data? To shed some light on other motives, it is crucial to comprehend the status of one of the studied areas – the Nansen Basin and the Gakkel Ridge. The Ridge forms the Basin’s northern boundary, while a section of Russia’s continental slope containing Franz Josef Land, and Norway’s, containing Svalbard, form the Basin’s southern border. Since the Arctic coastal states continue to update their claims to extend shelf jurisdiction with the CLCS, the issue of Arctic Ocean management is gaining momentum. Russia has already expressed claims to new areas, framed in two submissions to the UN in March 2021. With one of these Russian proposals seeking to include the Gakkel Ridge- along with its untapped resources- into the continental shelf, the opportunity to be the first in exploiting the mineral reserves within the Nansen Basin might serve as one motive for Norway. But in the new tense reality of the Arctic, military perspectives must also be considered alongside any economic dimensions. (Les Éditions Themis, ScienceDirect)
As reported by The Barents Observer on October 26, the cod quotas in the Barents and Norwegian Seas will be reduced by 20% in 2023, according to a decision made by the Norwegian-Russian Joint Fishery Commission. The bilateral fisheries management body also decided on the overall permitted haddock and capelin catch. However, during the Commission discussions, Russia stressed that if Norway places more restrictions on Russian-owned trawlers accessing ports in northern Norway, it may completely withdraw from the agreement. (The Barents Observer)
Take 4: Global warming has reduced the ice cover in the Arctic by 40% over the past 20 years. As the sea ice shrinks, potential fishing grounds in the Arctic seas are expanding. In this regard, conflicts over the distribution of fishing quotas may intensify, as some fish species will migrate from the waters under the jurisdiction of one country to the waters of another. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to uphold current agreements and adhere to the legal standards set forth in them. The importance of such partnerships resides, first and foremost, in the readiness of major players in Arctic policy to accept the ground principles of Arctic governance. The more agreements and regulations, the less space for disputes and conflicts, and more crucially, the urgency of further Arctic militarization becomes less substantial. Norway and Russia have been able to manage resources in northern waters in a sustainable and non-confrontational manner through bilateral agreements, aided by the establishment of the Joint Fisheries Commission back in 1976. This collaboration, however, may now be in jeopardy amid Arctic tensions and Russia’s aggressive military activities in Ukraine. But still, the intention for peaceful, economic cooperation should be welcomed, especially in the current climate. (Arctic Review on Law and Politics, Regjeringen)
As reported by High North News on October 27, the Center for Cyber Security, which is part of the Danish Defense Intelligence Service, and Greenland’s Agency for Digitisation, signed an agreement on joint efforts to strengthen Greenland’s cyber defense. The new agreement is supposed to improve Greenland’s capacity to defend itself against the upsurge of cyber threats that country has recently experienced. (High North News)
Take 5: Greenland has seen a series of cyberattacks over the past few years, with the country’s health system and the government agencies among the affected entities. Amid such events, Greenland has finally made a decision to concentrate its efforts on improving the efficiency of national cyber defense systems. The decision was made not only to prevent cyber threats from paralyzing the operations of government agencies and private businesses, but also to safeguard the nation from the illicit hacking activities of foreign countries. We should keep in mind that Greenland remains a full NATO member and part of the Joint Arctic Command, which is responsible for the island’s military defense. Thus, the creation of highly qualified competencies within cyber and information security is a prerequisite. Moreover, while other Arctic regions are relatively well covered by satellite and radar systems, Greenland’s monitoring infrastructure has deteriorated since the early 1990s. At the same time, it is easy for foreign researchers to enter Greenland’s waters, and there are fears that this access has at times been used for non-scientific purposes, such as tapping undersea fiber cables or studying the seabed to ease access for adversaries’ submarines. Therefore, Greenland’s overall defense and security capacities should be enhanced to address possible perils. (Reuters, Sermitsiaq)
The Arctic Institute is a 501(c)3 tax exempt nonprofit organisation with a network of researchers across the world.
The Arctic Institute’s research and capacity building projects help make the Arctic a more secure, just, and sustainable place.
Get a weekly rundown of the Arctic’s top stories by subscribing
to the Institute’s newsletter:
The Arctic This Week.
© The Arctic Institute, . All rights reserved. Privacy Policy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *