15 January 2018

ISAR-5 Fifth International Symposium on Arctic Research, Tokyo, Japan

The fifth ISAR has been planned at the recommendation of the science steering committee of ISAR-4, which was held in Toyama, Japan in April 2015. The fifth ISAR will be devoted to discussions on environmental changes in the Arctic and their regional and global implications, to seek additional international scientific collaboration in this area by gathering, synthesizing and sharing information related to these changes occurring in the Arctic. Special emphasis will be placed on the fields of the social sciences and humanities, which were not included in the previous ISARs.



Dr. Lassi Heininen, Professor at University of Lapland and Senior Research Scholar (associate) at IIASA, gave a session presentation at the 5th International Symposium on Arctic Research, ISAR-5 in (15-18) January 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.

The title of his presentation was “The Global Arctic as a New Geopolitical Context – potential influences of Arctic actors beyond the (Arctic) region”.

Prof. Heininen began with the notion that at the beginning of 21st century the Arctic as a geographical region is placed within the context of globalization and global geopolitics.

Due to globalization, what happens at the global level in terms of climate change, technology, industrial development, as well as social, cultural and political change, is not only affecting the Arctic rather, it is transforming it, on the one hand.

On the other hand, what takes place today in the Arctic, notably in terms of ice-melting, resource exploitation, transport, as well as knowledge-creation, stability-building, para- and science diplomacy affects the planet and accelerates the above global trends. At the same time, we have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of actors interested in the Arctic, and a great diversification has taken place in the background of actors involved. Thus, not only the Arctic region is being transformed by global impacts, since also the globalized Arctic and its actors have influences beyond the region (in world politics and the global economy).

This means that we have two interrelated systems and research foci, the Earth System and the ‘globalized’ Arctic. At the heart of forerunners’ research projects, such as the GlobalArctic and the IIASA’s Arctic Futures Initiative, lies a framework and a methodology for research about the globalized Arctic in the age of the Anthropocene: The global Arctic is interpreted here as a new geopolitical context, and used as a research method.

This is a fresh point of view to bring into the post-Cold War Arctic geopolitics, with rather traditional debate between two narratives and perceptions: Whether the Arctic is a “zone of peace” based on the institutionalized cooperation or, there are disputes, growing tension and conflicts between states?

[Or, a brief abstract: The presentation first, discussed the globalized Arctic as a new geopolitical context; second, examined and discusses about the role of immaterial values (e.g., stability, shared knowledge, dialogue, interplay between science and politics) in world politics, as well as the growing importance of the Arctic; and final, imagine how the global and stable Arctic could be interpreted as an asset to (re)shape international politics of turbulent times and world politics with ‘uncommon instabilities’.]

The conference was organize by Japan Consortium for Arctic Research (JCAR) much supported by National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR). Prof. Heininen also moderated the breakout session “Environmental, Economic, Societal and Geopolitical Dynamics in the Arctic, their Global Derivers and Implications” with five presentations by early career scientists from Asia and Europe.

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Last edited: 05 December 2018


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