Arctic – In the News

Arctic News

Can a new skyline halt the decline of world’s largest Arctic city?

By Atle Staalesen, Arctic Today

September 4, 2019 – “Marred by population decline and strained economy, Murmansk hopes it can stir growth by building of new futuristic and fancy city quarters on the western shores of the Kola Bay.”

Governor of Murmansk to Putin: Our strategically important region deserves better

By Atle Staalesen, The Barents Observer

August 30, 2019 – “It is election time in Murmansk and the Kremlin is reaching out a hand to its hopeful Andrey Chibis, the acting governor who was instated by Putin in March.”

Arctic nickel — not Arctic oil — could soon power the world’s cars

By Mia Bennett, Arctic Now

November 2, 2017 – “The Arctic is often imagined as a new energy frontier because of its ample oil reserves. But what if its nickel is actually the resource that becomes the regions most sought-after commodity?”

New US sanctions to bar Americans from Arctic offshore oil projects with Russia

By Russia Today

October 31, 2017 – “The US Treasury Department has announced a new set of sanctions against Moscow, banning American companies and individuals from taking part in Russian energy projects related to deepwater, Arctic offshore or shale oil exploration and production.”

Low Oil Prices Dim GOP Bid for Budget Bonanza in Arctic for Budget Bonanza in Arctic


Arctic Circle Assembly, AMAP Report Promote Adaptation, SDGs in the Arctic

By Leila Mead, International Institute for Sustainable Development

October 19, 2017 – “While the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, causing the melting of glaciers, sea ice and snow cover, making the Arctic more accessible, and leading to increased human activities, the region is also one of the most poorly observed due to the harsh environment, remoteness and high costs involved with conducting assessments.”

Key Arctic Research Station Set to Close Because of Liberal Government’s Funding Cuts

By Judith Lavoie, DesmogCananda

September 20, 2017 – “Essential information on Arctic climate change, ozone depletion and pollution reaching the Arctic from B.C.’s recent forest fires will be lost unless the federal government comes through with funding to save Canada’s unique high Arctic research station.”

Reuters feature: Iceland reaps riches from warming oceans as fish swim north

Summer 2017 Wilson Quarterly feature: The Arctic, From Romance to Reality

Summer/Fall 2017 – From oil paintings and poetry to militarization and melting (and yes, even video games), our quest to understand the region at the top of the planet continues – and the stakes today are higher than ever.”

China, Finland pledge further cooperation in Arctic affairs, sustainable development

By Zhang Dongmiao, Xinhua News

June 27, 2017 – “Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday held talks with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila, pledging to enhance cooperation in Arctic affairs and sustainable development…” as Finland prepares to take up the Presidency of the Arctic Council from 2017-2019.

It’s Goodbye to the U.S. Arctic Council Chairmanship, but Hello to the New ‘Our Arctic Nation’ Book

By US Department of State Staff

June 23, 2017 – The Our Arctic Nation blog was created in 2016 with the goal of exploring and strengthening America’s Arctic identity by drawing attention to the  historical, economic, cultural, scientific, environmental, and other ties that exist between the United States and our globe’s northernmost region. In early 2017, the US Department of State published a limited-edition hard copy book featuring excerpts from the blog. The public book launch in June 2017 was co-hosted by Arctic PIRE’s Robert Orttung and Matthew Jull at The George Washington University. The book was also presented to Foreign Ministers, heads of delegation, Permanent Participants, and other attendees of the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Arctic nations strike down research roadblocks

By Hannah Hoag

May 12, 2017 – “Researchers working in the Arctic will face less red tape, under an agreement signed by representatives of the eight Arctic nations at a meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, on 11 May.”

2017 Arctic Council Ministerial held in Fairbanks, Alaska

By Arctic Council

Trump pushes to expand offshore drilling in the Arctic

By Erica Martinson

April 28, 2017 – “Surrounded by members of Alaska’s congressional delegation, President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order that directs the Interior Department to rethink some of President Barack Obama’s regulations and decrees that put large swaths of the Arctic Ocean off limits to oil drilling.”

Take a look inside Russia’s northernmost Arctic military base

By Thomas Nilsen

April 18, 2017 – “The 14,000 square meters military complex at the Nagurskoye base on Aleksandra Land, the northernmost of the islands of Franz Josef Land is completed and ready for use. Photos of the new military base, said to be the largest building in the entire circumpolar high Arctic, is published by the Defense Ministry.”

EU External Action Commitment to Sustainable Development in the Arctic

By EU External Action Service

February 20, 2017 – “The EU is committed to implementing the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner. Several EU activities taking place in and relating to the Arctic region should contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

The Arctic may drown in global ‘big politics’

By Av Hege Eilertsen (translated by Elisabeth Bergquist)

January 26, 2017 – This article reports on a recent conference on Arctic Frontiers held in Tromso, Norway, where several Arctic PIRE members were in attendance. The article discusses the conversations from the meeting centered aound the future of Arctic development in the context of global political shifts.

Trump and Tillerson will play right into Russia’s climate change wet dreams

By Ari Phillips

December 13, 2016 – This article describes the new political relationship between Russian and the incoming administration of President-elect Trump. The article discusses the relationship between Secretary of State appointee Rex Tillerson, Russia’s political elite, and the oil & gas industry. The author speculates as to the future success of climate change agreements in the face of this shifting political dynamic. Arctic PIRE project leader Robert Orttung is quoted in this article discussing the affects of climate change research in Russia and the effective drivers of climate change mitigation.

Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities: Resource Politics, Migration, and Climate Change

Edited by Robert W. Orttung

November 30, 2016 -This written by Robert Orttung, one of the Principle Investigator of the Arctic PIRE Project, examines urban areas in Arctic Russia, many of which are experiencing unprecedented social and ecological change. This collection outlines the key challenges that city managers will face in navigating this shifting political, economic, social, and environmental terrain. In particular, the volume examines how energy production drives a boom-bust cycle in the Arctic economy, explores how migrants from Muslim cultures are reshaping the social fabric of northern cities, and provides a detailed analysis of climate change and its impact on urban and industrial infrastructure.

Arctic PIRE Researchers Highlighted by the Russian Science Foundation the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (Russian)

November 29, 2016 – This week researchers, including members of the Arctic PIRE network, were highlighted on the pages of the Russian Science Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Science in the Russian Federation. The article, “Сlimate change and stability of urban infrastructure in russian permafrost regions: prognostic assessment based on GCM climate projections,” was published in the Geographical Review in October 2016.

Community, Governance, and Ecology in the Circumpolar North | Documentary | English Version | Russian Version

By HSE Norway-Russia Project

November 18, 2016 – This film is explores the findings of the HSE Norway-Russia Project, which grew out of a project headed by Arctic PIRE member Dr. Aileen Espiritu. The film documents the experiences of two geographically similar northern cities, which share a common model of development, Kirkenes (Norway) and Berozovo (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug – Yugra). A series of interviews were conducted with representatives of regional and local authorities, businesses and the communities to explore their views on the possibilities of developing and implementing policies for sustainable ecological development of the regions.

Video of Panel Discussion on Promoting Urban Sustainability in the Arctic

By Arctic PIRE Group

November 10, 2016 – We are happy to share the video recording of our Inaugural Meeting Public Event, a panel discussion featuring several of our distinguished researchers. Speakers in this panel addressed topics including: social sustainability in Arctic conditions, the economic role of cities, Arctic urban planning, and the political framing of sustainability in the Arctic. The introduction of the panel was unfortunately cut off by the video taker, but all of the presentations and the Q&A following the presentations are included in this engaging discussion. (~40 Minute Video)

Arctic Yearbook 2016

The Arctic Council: 20 Years of Regional Cooperation and Policy-Shaping

By Various Authors

October 29, 2016 – This years edition of the Arctic Yearbook, a preeminent publication for Arctic analysis,  focuses on analyzing the strengths and shortcomings of the Arctic Council, a high level forum for cooperation among Arctic states and other actors, 20 years after its founding. The Arctic Council is viewed by many as a glowing symbol of success for international diplomacy, with positive cooperation continuing against the context of broader geopolitical tensions. However, the Arctic Council as a body no legal clout or ability to enforce agreements, thus remaining limited to a role in shaping policy rather than making it. Nonetheless, the Arctic Council will continue to be a positive and successful forum to promote shared values and norms among Arctic state, indigenous, and non-state actors.

Russia’s Arctic Obsession

By Kathrin Hille (Financial Times)

October 21, 2016 – This special feature and film in the Financial Times demonstrates the importance of our project and of Arctic development on the whole. “As global warming melts Arctic ice, Moscow hopes to resurrect the historic Northern Sea Route between Europe and Asia. But the challenges — and the costs — are immense. For a special FT feature and film, Kathrin Hille reports from one of the world’s most inhospitable places.”

Conversations about Environmental Change in Southeast Alaska

By Jim Powell

In “Conversations about Environmenal Change in S.E. Alaska: residents of Yakutat, Angoon and four communities on Prince of Wales share the changes they are experiencing, how they are adapting and how they think their communities will be in the future. A research project on perceptions of enviromental change done in collaboration between the US Forest Service, University of Alaska Fairbanks and other organizations involving over ninety local residents.

 Oleg Anisimov Interview (Russian) for Yakytian TV

October 2016 – In this TV interview for Yakytian TV, our colleague Oleg Anisimov, addresses several Arctic issues. Around minute 5, he discusses Urban Sustainability and the Arctic PIRE project in detail.

From the Mediterranean to the Far North: A Refugees Corridor at the Russian-Norwegian Border

By Sophie Hohmann and Marlene Laruelle

September 2016 – This short piece, featured on the Arctic Institute website, addresses the recently formed refugee corridor between Russia and Norway.

 Nature Geoscience Journal: Permafrost Contribution to Deglacial CO2 Rise

By Various Authors

September 2016 – This issue of the Nature Geoscience Journal includes several articles on the melting of permafrost and the effects this will have both on short-term and long-term climate trends.

Arctic sustainability research: toward a new agenda

By Andrey N. Petrov, et al.

August 31, 2016 – This paper reports some of the key findings of a white paper prepared by an international and interdisciplinary team as part of the ICARP-III process. The International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP) has now transpired three times, most recently in April 2015 with ICARP III. This paper presents a progress report on Arctic sustainability research, identifies related knowledge gaps and provides recommendations for prioritizing research for the next decade. This paper was written with support from the International Arctic Science Committee Social and Human Sciences Working Group, the International Arctic Social Sciences Association and the Arctic-FROST research coordination network.

Why an Alaskan village voted to leave ancestral home behind

By Nicole Orttung

August 18, 2016 – Residents of Shishmaref, Alaska, might finally pack and move, though this is their third vote to relocate as rising sea waters continue to erode the village’s shores.

My Beautiful, Deadly City

By Victoria Fiore

August 9, 2016 – The arctic mining city of Norilsk is one of the most polluted in the world — but many residents are still proud to call it home. This New York Times Opinion Document explores the unique nature of this city and its inhabitants. Victoria Fiore, a London-based documentary filmmaker, is currently developing this Op-Doc into a feature film.

New Mobilities and Social Changes in Russia’s Arctic Regions

Edited by Marlene Laruelle

August 5, 2016 – This series of pieces addresses issues of migration, multiculturalism, and other socio-economic effects of increased mobility  in the Russian Arctic

We need time to identify how to take advantage of the warming climate – Interview with Oleg Anisimov

By Cyril Kudrin

August 2, 2016 – An interview with our colleague Oleg Anisimov about the potential economic benefits of global warming and how the inhabitants of the Russian north will need to adapt to new conditions.

Arctic Abstractive Industry

By Arthur Mason

July 29, 2016 – The Arctic is a region that is being dramatically altered through climate change, even as extractive industries and the nations that rely on them frame the Arctic as an alternatively valuable or risky frontier. Follow the link above for a series of essays that provide an ethnographic unmasking of some of the normative projects that today’s rush for the Arctic entails. They highlight the increasing speed of change in the Arctic; the complex relationship between Arctic inhabitants and their land/seascape; and the possibility of a post-discursive turn in which managing Arctic risk relies on the shaping of aesthetic experience. Our use of the word abstractive both evokes and departs from extractive. It gestures toward the stakes of rendering embodied knowledge explicit and redistributing calculative capacities from humans to technical systems, thereby instantiating the conditions for control over a valuable and vulnerable North.

What Happens in the Arctic Does Not Stay in the Arctic

By Mark Brzezinski

July 21, 2016 – Our highly respected colleague Mark Brzezinzki, former US Ambassador to Sweden and Arctic Expert, gives a 26 minute talk on the global-effects of Arctic issues. The informative and interesting talk was given at the MCON 2016 conference hosted at the National Geographic Society.

The international conference “Russia`s Arctic Sustainable Development and Challenges”, Murmansk, Russia, June 2016

By Vitaly Akimov

July 5, 2016 – This piece describes the events and proceedings of a June 2016 conference on Sustainable Development in the Russian Arctic. The highly successful event was organized through our Arctic Research Coordination Network grant.

Energy as Power: Gazprom, Gas Infrastructure, and Geo-Governmentality in Putin’s Russia

By Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen

Summer 2016 – This study unfolds the normalizing narrative that is constructed via the Gazifikatsiia Rossii promotional video released by Gazprom. The analysis reveals that the practiced geo-governmentality of gazifikatsiia derives its power from geographical imaginaries of Russia. This bipartite energopower and geo-governmentality receives its essence from the positive and negative materialities of hydrocarbons, the ability to do both “good” and “bad”, which unfolds the way the non-human is embedded in the construction of the social. This construction lumps together the material-nationalistic energy imagination, such as Russia as an energy Superpower, with universal goals such as economic growth and modernization, but also with values such as conservative gender roles. The rationalities and practices of gazifikatsiia geogovernmentality function in and combine several scales: the subject is tied to territories and the nation via gas, the subject is made responsible for the biosecurity of the population, and the global is harnessed in legitimizing the reliance on gas.

Social license to operate’: a relevant term in Northern European mining

By Timo Koivurova, Arild Buanes, Larissa Riabova, Vladimir Didyk, Thomas Ejdemo, Gregory Poelzer, Päivi Taavo & Pamela Lesser

October 29, 2015 – The concept of social license to operate (SLO) is increasingly being used throughout the world to describe a specific aspect of company–community relations in resource-extractive projects, in particular how different actors interact to resolve, or not, the social and economic impacts on local communities and other stakeholders. This article will tease out the main elements of the SLO concept and examine the degree to which both actors (mining companies and communities), verbally and in action, respond toward one another. Based on previous empirical studies of scholars in the field, we have applied an analytical framework of SLO to empirically test whether or not it can provide greater insight into the motivations both behind a community’s acceptance of or opposition to a company’s project, as well as the extent to which a company is willing to appease the public in order to gain their acceptance. The framework combines a set of normative criteria the company must meet as a precondition to gaining SLO, with different levels of community acceptance indicating the degree to which a community bestows SLO on the company. Eight case studies from the European north (two mining projects in each of the countries Norway, Finland, Russia, and Sweden) have been selected to test the SLO analytical framework in order to ultimately determine whether a company’s specific SLO practices (i.e. active public engagement, sponsoring community projects, etc.) generate different levels of community acceptance. Although there are other contributing factors that affect company–community relations in the context of mining projects, most notably the legal and regulatory frameworks for resource-extractive projects, the goal of this article is to focus on the social and ethical dimensions of the company–community relationship.

Social License to Operate for Mining Companies in the Russian Arctic: Two Cases in the Murmansk Region

By Larissa Riabova & Vladimir Didyk

2014 – This paper presents research notes discussing the theme of social licensing of the mining companies in one of the mining regions in the Russian Arctic. The paper is the outcome of the authors’ participation in the research project “Sustainable Mining, local communities and environmental regulation in Kolarctic area” (SUMILCERE).

Neoliberal governance, sustainable development and local communities in the Barents Region


There are currently high hopes in the Barents Region for economic growth, higher employment and improved well-being, encouraged by developments in the energy industry, tourism and mining. The article discusses these prospects from the perspective of local communities in five locations in the region, which spans the northernmost counties of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Northwest Russia. The communities studied are remote, relatively small, multicultural, and dependent on natural resources. The salient dynamic illuminated in the research is how ideas of sustainability and neoliberal governance meet in community development. While the two governmentalities often conflict, they sometimes also complement one another, posing a paradox that raises concerns over the social aspect of sustainable development in particular. The article is based on international, multidisciplinary research drawing on interviews as well as 42 BARENTS STUDIES: Peoples, Economies and Politics VOL. 1 | ISSUE 1 | 2014 statistical and documentary analysis.