The Emerging Arctic Security Environment



24 Mar, 2023
10:00 am
The Emerging Arctic Security Environment

Project Leaders: Whitney Lackenbauer, Rob Huebert, and Suzanne Lalonde


This project, initiated in 2010, aims to better understand the developing Arctic security trends in the circumpolar region by critically analyzing the foreign, defence and security policies of Arctic states, and what ramifications these actions may have for the possibilities/probabilities of conflict and cooperation in the region.


Climate change, undefined or disputed boundaries, access to resources and newly viable transportation routes, and governance issues are generating significant questions about Arctic security and circumpolar geopolitics in the twenty-first century.  Anticipating future prospects for competition, conflict and cooperation in the region requires a systematic examination of the new forces at play, both internationally and domestically. 


What will the circumpolar world look like in the future, given the various forces transforming this region?  Our project seeks to discern what senior government officials, indigenous groups, corporate interests, scientists, academics, and Northern residents perceive to be the most significant security and safety challenges in the Arctic -- and to determine what unilateral, bilateral and multilateral mechanisms should be in place to address them. 


This project makes two primary contributions: one policy-focused and the other academic.


  • First, it adds to the public policy debate about the evolving Arctic security environment. Our research team critically assesses the interplay between traditional, state-based military security and environmental, health, and societal security concerns.  In linking international and domestic security practices to human impacts, we are producing more integrated frameworks and tools to anticipate the consequences of security action/inaction on Northern ecosystems and peoples. This should help to enhance Canada's capacity to deal with opportunities and challenges in a way that is sensitive to, and better integrates, Northerners' concerns and priorities.
  • Second, this project advances academic debates about the relationship between environmental, diplomatic, political, and socio-economic processes and ideas about Arctic security. Community consultations, participation in the Arctic Security Working Group, as well as partnerships with federal departments and agencies ground our analyses of how the changing geopolitics of the Arctic are influencing government policy and affecting Northerners' culture, well-being, and economies. As a team, and in collaboration with our partners, we are refining existing frameworks and models to incorporate the complexity of these new forces, to better explain the actions that are now being taken, and to generate appropriate lessons for future relationship-building.


This project has been funded by grants from ArcticNet, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and St. Jerome’s University.


For access to a brochure with more information on this project click below from 2010-15.