Pål Wilter Skedsmo, FNI Research Director of Marine and Polar Issues

Russia views developing its Arctic zone as a cornerstone of its own economic future

Resource management at sea and delimitation are issues that lead to both conflict and cooperation between countries. In a new RCN-funded project, FNI with research partners in Australia, China, England, Korea and Romania will compare ocean resource management in the Arctic, in the Black Sea and in the East China Sea. The aim is to see the linkages between international politics, resource management and the law of the sea: What creates conflict, how can conflict be avoided by applying the law of the sea framework, and how is the law of the sea changing as certain countries gain more and more power?

States’ adaptation to climate change differs greatly, and a better understanding of the reasons behind the choice of climate knowledge in decisions regarding Arctic developments can provide insight into the sustainability of economic and industrial strategies. Russia views developing its Arctic zone as a cornerstone of its own economic future, mainly through resource extraction and associated maritime transport. Yet, little is known about Russian perceptions and interpretations of climate change in the Arctic, and corporate responses in terms of policy and adaptive measures for industrial projects. Together with Russian researchers, FNI will delve into these issues to gain a better understanding of Russian climate perceptions, and the consequences of the strategies chosen for economic development in the Russian Arctic.

Norwegian Arctic politics and the potential of great power rivalry

The Arctic has for a long time been characterized by international cooperation, but it is also a possible arena for great power rivalry with the US, China and Russia as the three major players. How should a small state like Norway act, and what are the positions of other European states on issues relevant to Norwegian Arctic politics? This will be explored in a new one-year project funded by the Ministry of Defence, while Russian geopolitics in the Russian Arctic and Black sea will be investigated the next three years together with Romanian partners, funded by the EEA grants.

China’s Arctic strategy

Chinese activity in the Arctic is increasingly characterized by considerations of economic benefit weighed against potential security risks. The analysis of China's political ambitions in the Arctic has to be rooted in a broader understanding of Chinese foreign and security politics. With funding from the Ministry of Defence, FNI is glad to be able to recruit a new PhD candidate to delve into these issues, as well as being a partner with Nord University in a RCN-funded project that will explore China’s influence on regional governance in the Arctic.
Through this string of new projects – small and large – FNI are enabled to let our experienced researchers continue expanding and developing their well-established research portfolios as well as recruiting new researchers for the future to come. They will all delve into issues of massive importance for Norway. FNI is looking forward to delivering cutting-edge and policy relevant research communicated to the wider public as well as policy-makers.