Environmental Governance of the Arctic: Law, Effect, Now Implementation


This Article addresses how the international community governs the Arctic and whether that community, or parts of it, should be governing it differently. Its core is analysis of programs specifically created to protect and manage that regional sea. More broadly, this Article presents the great range of policy and regulatory activity that focuses on the environmental quality of the region. The aim is not only to describe and evaluate existing governance structures but also to indicate how governance can be improved. One approach emphasized, rather than or in addition to working on more international initiatives, is to focus on implementation of the myriad, almost paralyzing, existing international legal obligations. Implementation is addressed in the organizational studies context. Implementation in the legal sense of executing international law into domestic systems is the starting point for our focus on implementation. The research is based on a multidisciplinary literature analysis; field visits; and policymaker, scientific, and legal expert interviews. I argue that more fully applying knowledge from implementation studies can improve Arctic environmental governance, irrespective of decisions made about additional legal obligations.

“[H]e who controls the Arctic controls the world.”

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