Transformational Change and Regime Shifts in the Circumpolar Arctic
The Arctic is changing rapidly, and there are many indications that the region is in the midst of transformational change. While some of the focus relates to impacts of climate change, rapid economic development and the potential for shifts in political and social structures in the region have also been in the limelight. This article looks at the circumpolar Arctic as a potential case of a
regime shift in a large-scale social–ecological system that includes reinforcing feedbacks. A special focus is placed on governance structures, as these play an important role in social negotiations on the relationship between societies and the environment. While climate change is often portrayed as a driver of social change in the Arctic, it does not appear that the ongoing changes in the biophysical features of the Arctic region have rocked current circumpolar governance structures out of kilter. On the contrary, the ongoing climate-related changes, in particular sea ice decline, appear to have reinforced political commitment to existing legal structures. Major past social regime shifts have mainly been related to access to resources and national identity ideology, with
political dynamics reinforced at times by military security considerations.
(Published: November 2016)
Citation: A.E. Nilsson and T. Koivurova. ‘‘Transformational Change and Regime Shifts in the Circumpolar Arctic.’’ Arctic Review on Law and Politics, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2016, pp. 179–195. http://dx.doi.org/10.17585/arctic.v7.532
Authors contributing to The Arctic Review on Law and Politics retain copyright to their articles but agree to publish them under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license. The terms of this license permit third parties to freely copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to adapt, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose – except commercial purposes – as long as appropriate credit is given, a link to the license is provided, and any changes made are indicated. The foregoing may be done in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses the third party or their use.