Geo Politics in the High North (completed)

GeoPolitics in the High North is a research program running from 2008 to 2012. The program aims at developing new knowledge about the interaction of actors in the High North. The program is conducted by the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies with partners and associates.

The Aim of the project

Through cooperation between Norwegian and international partners, this program aims to develop new knowledge about the complex interaction of actors in the High North. The Norwegian discourse on High North issues has tended to be myopic and self-centred, and there is a profound lack of understanding of how academic experts and decision-makers in other countries view these questions. Most of the challenges facing Norway in the High North transcend a narrow, national framework. Thus, the program aims to create an international arena for research and debate in the field. With an improved understanding of international perspectives on the High North, Norwegian actors will be in a better position to make well founded decisions.


The High North stands out as an area of great possibilities in the decades to come. High energy prices and technological advances have made it possible to exploit petroleum resources in areas that have hitherto been inaccessible. Due to climate change, new sea transportation routes may open up – considerably shortening the distance from Europe and North America to Asia. The demand for high-quality white fish from the Barents Sea is steadily rising on international markets, making Barents Sea fishing a multi-billion dollar industry. Two decades after the end of the Cold War, cross-border commercial and cultural exchanges between Russia and its Arctic neighbors finally seem to be experiencing a robust upswing, after a slow and spasmodic beginning.

Many actors on the international scene, both states and private interests, including emerging economies in Asia, now show a keen interest in the Arctic and the European High North. Thus, there is more to the Northern euphoria than just political rhetoric. The region has a considerable potential for economic growth in several sectors.
At the same time, there are numerous challenges. Environmental risks have moved high up on the agenda. The effects of climate change threaten the traditional livelihoods of indigenous populations. Changes in sea temperatures might lead to fish stocks changing their pattern of migration, creating new challenges for multinational fishery management. Conflicting interests create a potential for rivalry between various actors – a potential aggravated by important, unsolved jurisdictional issues. Moreover, security in a military-strategic sense is about to experience a renaissance. As with the expansion of economic activities in the region, Russia’s renewed self-assertiveness and intention of rebuilding and modernising its armed forces, including its strategically important Northern Fleet, will likely also serve to revive states’ interest and involvement in the region.


The project is financed through the Research Council of Norway


Partner institutions in Norway:

  • Institute for Defence Studies (IFS)
  • The Department of Political Science of the University of Oslo (UiO)
  • The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI)
  • The Departments of History and Political Science and the Faculty of Law of the University of Tromsø (UiTø)
  • International partners:
  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC
  • Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Berlin
  • The Institute of Universal History of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IUH), Moscow, in cooperation with Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO)

 Further information about the program (including list of publications and events) can be obtained at the projects webpages.


Tags: Nordic
Published Sep. 15, 2010 2:22 PM - Last modified Dec. 7, 2017 11:28 AM