TN Breakout Sessions at Arctic Circle Assembly 2021

The TN on Geopolitics and Security will organise the following sessions during the 2021 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik:


New Trends of Arctic Governance and Geopolitics

Thursday 14 October at 18:30 - 19:30

Convener: Prof. Lassi Heininen (University of Lapland, Finland)


Session Description:

The focus of the session is on the recent IIASA analysis of Arctic policies & strategies recognizes the following overall new and/or emerging trends of the future of Arctic governance and geopolitics, which are linked with a few existing narratives: First, there is a paradox, or contrast between environmental protection and climate change mitigation vis-à-vis an increase in (new) economic activities for Arctic development. This is closely linked with the narrative of increasing use of/potential race for resources and of the global climate ethics debate. Second, there is a new kind of interrelationship between the state domination based on geopolitical stability and sovereignty, and internationalization/globalization based on international treaties and UN declarations regarding Indigenous rights. This is linked to the narratives of State-controlled development projects, self-determination and high stability. Third, there is focus on science as its role is increasing due to the pressure of the rapidly advanced climate change, and the above-mentioned paradox. This deals with the narrative of the global climate ethics debate in terms of depending on science to solve ‘wicked’ anthropogenic problems, though at the same time there is hesitation to implement the narrative of a paradigm shift. Finally, the close interrelationship between the Arctic and Space (e.g., ITC and digital services & security, meteorology as a new priority) is emerging due to globalization and the rapidly advancing climate change (in the Arctic and globally). This trend shows another global approach for the Arctic, and closely deals with the global Arctic narrative. The aim of the session is first, to evaluate and discuss how valid these overall trends are, and what is missing; and second how do they reflect, and how, to existing perceptions and narratives on the Arctic and Arctic development.   


Speakers and their Topics:

  • An introduction to the multifaceted dynamics of the Arctic
    Matthias Finger, Professor, EPFL
  • Gender Empowerment and Governance in the Arctic
    Andrey N Petrov, Professor, University of Northern Iowa & Marya Rozanova, Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University
  • Nordic Governance
    Gunnar Rekvig, Associate Professor—Northern Studies, UiT the Arctic University of Norway
  • Maritime Boundary Agreements and Disputes in the Arctic Ocean
    Andreas Östhagen, Senior Research Fellow, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway
  • Development of Transport Systems as a Tool to Meet Future Connectivity Demands and Support Vitality in the Barents Region
    Jussi Huotari, Project leader, County Council of Kainuu




Arctic Yearbook 2021 - Defining and Mapping the Arctic: Sovereignties, Policies and Perceptions

Friday 15 October at 09:15 - 10:10

Conveners: Lassi Heininen, Heather Exner-Pirot and Justin Barnes, editors of Arctic Yearbook



This session will be a part of the 10-year celebration for Arctic Yearbook, and the launch of the 2021 Yearbook, "Redefining and Mapping the Arctic: Sovereignties, Policies and Perceptions". The session will on the one hand, explore narratives about the Arctic including environmental definitions of the Arctic, the various understandings of Arctic sovereignty and how it is practiced by different actors, definitions and delineations of the Arctic from international legal perspectives, and articulations of local, traditional, and Indigenous sovereignty. On the other hand, it will discuss about a role and importance of Arctic Yearbook as a platform to study the Arctic and its development, environmental issues and global solutions from different points of view and disciplines.

This panel's speakers will consist of authors (of scholarly articles) of the 2021 Yearbook: Tracy Michaud (University of Southern Maine), Andreas Östhagen (Fridtjof Nansen Institute), Robert Wheelersburg (Elizabethtown College); members of the AY Editorial Board; and Editor Lassi Heininen, Assistant editor Justin Barnes




Human and Comprehensive Security in the Arctic

Saturday 16 October at 10:15 - 11:15

Convener: Prof. Lassi Heininen (University of Lapland)



In the 2020s, one of the overall new trends of Arctic governance and geopolitics is about a paradox of future development whenever a balance is sought between climate change mitigation vis-à-vis an increase in (new) economic activities (see, Arctic Policies and Strategies – Analysis, Synthesis, and Trends, 2020). This trend, together with pollution & climate change, is putting the people(s) and societies, even states, of the Arctic into a danger. The reality today is that environmental challenges, as well as a paradoox with the related political inability, are putting the people(s) and societies of the Arctic region into a danger. Following from this, there is a need to broaden the scope from the unilateral, competitive, national military approach to more comprehensive human security. This session higlights that this demands to tackle againts real (non-military) security threats & risks, and requires to put environmental protection, biodiversity and human health as first priorities. The session discusses and analyzes 'human' / ‘societal' security, as well as 'comprehensive security' - based on the mutually-beneficial geopolitical stability - as a fruitful basis for governance and policy-shaping / -making.


Speakers and their topics:

  • Expanding Arctic Human Security - Narratives of Emotion and Extractivism
    Sohvi Kangasluoma, PhD candidate, University of Helsinki
  • Lessons from Domain Awareness for Managing Arctic Borderlands
    Heather N. Nicol, Director, School for the Study of Canada, Trent University
  • It’s (about) Societal Security – not Great Power Rivalry!
    Heininen Lassi, Professor (emeritus), University of Lapland


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