Northern Policy & Development
Current research projects (2019-2023)
Arctic Shipping and Transportation in a Rapidly Changing Arctic
The rapid increase in Arctic shipping and transportation, propelled by climate change and the prospect of heightened global maritime trade through polar corridors, poses significant threats to a region with fragile and limited biodiversity and where Inuit livelihoods rely on continued access to a pristine maritime environment. Ship traffic in Arctic Canada has more than tripled since 1990 and additional growth in cargo, trade, tourism, fisheries, and ship-based research activities are expected (Pizzolato et al. 2016; Eguíluz et al. 2016; Dawson et al. 2018). Investment in the Arctic will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade (Mikkola & Käpylä 2013; AMAP 2017) as global nations take advantage of economic opportunities. China has declared their intent to develop the ‘Polar Silk Road’ (People’s Republic of China 2018) and have invested in icebreaking capabilities (Lackenbauer et al. 2018), the United States introduced the “SEAL” Act (Shipping and Environmental Arctic Leadership) (US Senate 2019), and Russia announced it will resume fighter patrols over the North Pole for the first time in over 30 years (Weber 2019). In response, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada has stated that “… gaps and emerging risks, that if left unaddressed, will only grow as marine traffic increases in the Arctic” (OAGC 2014 p.24). This project will examine and evaluate the risks, opportunities, and potential management, policy, and governance options for a rapidly changing Arctic shipping sector in light of climate change. Focus will be on the Northwest Passage and in areas of high ecological or cultural significance. A combination of remote sensing, GIS, and projection modelling will be utilized in combination with policy round tables, community workshops, and other qualitative approaches. The work will be completed in partnership with relevant government agencies, Arctic communities, and ship operators.