Polar Science 101: Arctic Policy
Central to Arctic policy is the Arctic Council, and eight quite similar national Arctic policies that generally uphold commitments to four policy areas – Indigenous interests, environmental protection, national security, and responsible economic development. While national level priorities and actions set the stage for the behavior of governments in the North, they do not necessarily determine government activities, largely due to diverse and competing interest groups that flourish in democracies. Most formal national policies towards the Arctic are vague enough in their language to permit multiple political interpretations. In other words, much of what is “Arctic Policy” – the actual governance by governments in Arctic and sub-Arctic locations - is determined by national legislatures, state/territorial/provincial governments, co-management regimes with Indigenous peoples, local-scale legislatures, and even the activities of major city councils (e.g., zoning, education, taxation). Sometimes these actors are at a considerable distance from the Arctic, spatially and cosmologically. This means that the day-to-day politics in any one country may alter the interpretation of what that nation’s Arctic policy means in implementation.In times of rapid social and environmental change in the Arctic, the aim of the Center for Arctic Policy Studies (CAPS) is to provide clear advice to policy leaders. Why should you write a policy brief? Because your research matters to decision makers! A policy brief is a succinct and targeted hand-out you can use in a variety of venues.
Kelsey is the program coordinator for the Center for Arctic Policy Studies (CAPS). The Center for Arctic Policy Studies (CAPS) at the University of Alaska serves the public, the Alaska State government, the Arctic Council and Working Groups, scholars, journalists, and industries seeking to understand Alaska and Arctic issues. They facilitate the sharing of expertise from research scientists, practitioners, Indigenous Knowledge holders, and educators with decision-makers in local, tribal, state, and federal governments.