News - September 2012

What's next for the Arctic?

10 September 2012

Some of the world’s foremost Arctic experts have been brought together by the University of Hull to discuss the future of the polar region’s vast resources.

As more becomes known about the Arctic’s wealth of oil, gas and minerals the race to exploit the region has increased in speed over recent years. At the same time, this summer has seen the fragile sea ice in the Arctic region shrink to its smallest size since records began.

ArcticAgainst this backdrop, the University of Hull’s conference, “The Future of the High North and the Challenges for Maritime Governance”, explored the complex issues around the preservation and exploitation of this fragile environment.

Organised by the University’s Department of Politics and International Studies, the conference attracted expert speakers from the United States, Norway and Finland to speak alongside UK specialists about the competing interests in the region.

Pen Hadow, the Arctic explorer and environmental adviser, told delegates about the stark reality of the region’s melting sea-ice and urged them to consider the global impact of further sea-ice melts, during his keynote presentation. Also during the conference, leading experts including Ben Ayliffe of Greenpeace, Vladimir Semenov of the International Maritime Organisation, Rear Admiral Nick Lambert of the UK Hydrographic Office and representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Ministry of Defence took the opportunity to engage in debate about the governance challenges in the Arctic.

Further sessions during the conference focused on energy and resource exploitation in the region including a presentation on the important issue of fisheries in the Arctic by University of Hull expert Dr Magnus Johnson. Dr Johnson argued for an Arctic governance model that takes account of the needs of indigenous people in the region, rather than focusing purely on the conservation ideal.

Also speaking from the University of Hull was Dr Elizabeth Monaghan and Stewart Arnold, who examined the effectiveness of the EU in the Arctic Region.

Conference organiser, Dr Matthew Ford, explained: “The University of Hull has a great reputation for its expertise in the maritime domain so we are very well placed to draw together the legal, environmental and political issues in this conference.

“It is clear that the environment and energy supply are crucial concerns in the 21st century. Given the wealth of resources, the Arctic will become increasingly important as the world’s great economic powers vie with each other for access to the region.  This conference addressed many of the challenges posed by this and other changes occurring in the region.”

A collection of essays arising from the papers and discussions will be published following the conference.  This will inform energy industry analysts and policy makers as well as to environmentalists and research scholars.

View highlights of the event below.

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