North Pacific Arctic Conference “Voices of the Future” Series


Each year since 2011, Arctic experts, policymakers, private sector representatives, and Indigenous Peoples and other community leaders from a variety of countries have met annually at the East-West Center in Honolulu for wide-ranging discussions on Arctic issues, with a particular focus on the North Pacific region. Presentations from each year’s North Pacific Arctic Conference are published in a book-length volume as part of the Arctic in World Affairs series.

Over the past four years, external funding has facilitated a strong focus on the inclusion of the next generation of Arctic leaders and an NPAC Fellowship Initiative. At the conclusion of the October 2020 conference, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fellows were invited to write forward-looking, policy oriented articles for a special web series: NPAC Voices of the Future. Here are the six contributions received:


The Arctic Security Paradox, and What to Do About It
By Andreas Østhagen
Senior Research Fellow, Fridtjof Nansen Institute and High North Center

Exercise off the coast of Reykjavik in 2017. Photo: Arctic Coast Guard Forum.In recent years, great-power politics have emerged on the Arctic regional relations agenda. Now finding ways to raise security concerns and alleviate pressures—perhaps even develop codes of conduct—has become more urgent. Read more.


The Warming Arctic Requires Precautionary Management
By Yunjin Kim
Former Researcher, Korea Legislation Research Institute

Humpback whales off northern Greenland. Photo: Monica Bertolazzi/Getty ImageOnce the Arctic’s intricate natural systems pass certain tipping points from projected warming, the damage may be irreparable. In such circumstances, the success of marine cooperation in the Arctic Ocean calls for precautionary action at an international level. Read more.


Engaging Arctic Indigenous Communities Meaningfully in Decision-making Affecting Their Food Security
By Kevin Fraley
Fisheries Ecologist, Arctic Beringia Program, Wildlife Conservation Society

Iñupiaq hunters in Alaska bringing home caribou. Photo: Staffan Widstrand/Getty Images.With recent social trends supporting increased Indigenous rights, encouraging the involvement and power of Indigenous Arctic stakeholders will promote social responsibility and decrease the likelihood of resource degradation. Read more.


The Spirit of the International Polar Year in Arctic International Cooperation
By Yao Tang
Assistant Professor, Polar Research Institute of China

MOSAiC expedition researchers move instruments over sea ice. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Lianna Nixon (CC-BY 4.0)Modern polar scientific expeditions originated with the first International Polar Year in 1882–1883 and have developed further during each of the three subsequent ones. Today, also, we should be deepening international cooperation in the Arctic through science. Read more.


The Warming Arctic: How Thawing Permafrost Challenges Environmental Governance
By Daria Shapovalova
Co-director, Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law

Ice under permafrost soil. Photo: SeppFriedhuber/Getty ImagesThe release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost is predicted to be similar in magnitude to that caused by land-use change. While more ambitious policies will be crucial for long-term climate progress, Arctic communities already affected by thawing ground need urgent action. Read more.


The Delimitation of the Extended Continental Shelves in the Central Arctic Ocean
By Ekaterina Antsygina
PhD Candidate, Queen’s University, Canada

Overlapping entitlements of Canada, Denmark, and Russia. Map by Daniela Iribe Gonzalez, MASC 18dig@queensu.caThe Arctic coastal states are in the process of delineating their Extended Continental Shelf, which involves unilateral establishment of the shelf’s outer limits. The process will probably take decades, but when all is said and done Russia, Canada, and Denmark will likely divide the seabed in the heart of the Arctic through negotiations. Read more.