Politics of Sustainability in the Arctic: A Research Agenda

Ulrik Pram Gad, Uffe Jakobsen, Jeppe Strandsbjerg

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


    The concept of sustainability has become central in arctic politics. However, there is little agreement on what ‘sustainable’ means. For different actors (governments, indigenous people, NGOs, etc.) the concept implies different sets of opportunities and precautions. Sustainability, therefore, is a much more fundamental idea to be further elaborated depending on contexts than a definable term with a specific meaning. This paper suggests a set of theoretical questions, which can provide the first steps toward a research agenda on the politics of sustainability. The approach aims to map and analyze the role of sustainability in political and economic strategies in the Arctic. Sustainability has become a fundamental concept that orders the relationship between the environment (nature) and development (economy), however, in the process rearticulating other concepts such as identity (society). Hence, we discuss, first, how, when meeting the Arctic, sustainability changes its meaning and application from the global ecosphere to a regional environment, and, second, how sustainability is again conceptually transformed when meeting Greenlandic ambitions for postcoloniality. This discussion leads us to outline an agenda for how to study the way in which sustainability works as a political concept.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNorthern Sustainabilities : Understanding and Addressing Change in the Circumpolar World
    EditorsGail Fondahl, Gary N. Wilson
    Place of PublicationCham
    PublisherSpringer Publishing Company
    Publication date2017
    ISBN (Print)9783319461489
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319461502
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    SeriesSpringer Polar Sciences


    • Concept of sustainability
    • Political theory
    • Discourse theory
    • Postcolonial identity
    • Greenland

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