Assessing Arctic Futures

Voices, Resources and Governance

Sverker Sörlin and Nina Wormbs, the Division of History of Science and Technology, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

The debate about the future of the Arctic is currently heated, but not for the first time. Descriptions of the future of the Arctic – often enthusiastic but at times foreboding – were formulated during the entire 20th Century. The questions raised in this project explore the people behind these descriptions, how the descriptions were formulated, against a background of contemporary political, economic, scientific and ideological contexts, and how they were heard.

We are interested in the multitude of voices in the continuous production of Arctic futures. Who’s interest had the most influence during different historical periods, and what can different people mean by “positive” development in the Arctic? What were the processes by which certain voices were heard and others not? And what can we learn from that in looking at the production of Arctic futures today? By trying to apply methods from for example technology assessment we hope to develop tools with which proposed Arctic futures can be assessed before hand and thereby offering the decision makers a more comprehensive understanding of the consequences of paths to be taken.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the European University at St. Petersburg and the Stockholm Environment Institute.