The Mistra Arctic Futures project Assessing Arctic Futures has recently contributed to the book The Arctic Council: Its place in the future of Arctic governance. The book is edited by Thomas S. Axworthy, Timo Koivurova and Waliul Hasanat. Publisher is Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program.
Abstract from the article Knowing the Arctic. The Arctic Council as a Cognitive Forerunner by Nilsson, Annika E:
A core task of the Arctic Council has been to conduct scientific assessments of the state of the Arctic. Several reports, including the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, have brought attention to the Arctic from far beyond the region. Some assessments have also had substantial impact on policy development. The focus on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is one case. These examples reveal that the Arctic Council is a cognitive forerunner and assessments a tool for “soft” power.
Given the political challenges in reaching legally binding political agreements, it is likely that assessments and other activities related to cognitive power will continue to be important for the Arctic Council. This chapter analyzes circumstances that have facilitated or hindered successes in the past. It focuses on two issues that pose significant challenges for Arctic people: POPs and climate change. Based on the analysis, it discusses the organization of the Arctic Council working groups, concluding that the current organizational structure is not adequate for the challenges that are facing the Arctic today.
To continue to be a cognitive forerunner, the Arctic Council has to increase its ability to assess the interactions of different drivers of change, including social changes connected with pressures from globalization. It will also need to address politically contentious issues, which creates new challenges regarding the delicate boundary between science and policy.