For Canada and the United States, the Beaufort basin offers unique opportunities for Alaska and Canada’s Arctic territories, says a research paper from Canada's Centre for International Government Innovation (CIGI).
The Arctic is facing remarkable climatic and oceanic change that is triggering unprecedented opportunities and challenges for Arctic nations, as well as for countries that do not have Arctic territory but are eager to engage and invest in the region.
- The Northwest Territories’ (NWT’s) privileged resource endowment and geographic position on the Beaufort basin provide exceptional opportunities for the territory over the longer term in maritime resource development and destination and transpolar shipping as the Arctic ice cap melts.
- The NWT has registered impressive achievements in responsible resource and community development, but the lack of adequate transport corridors and infrastructure arising from complex permitting regulations and governance is preventing the territory from fully realizing its economic potential.
- The recent NWT Devolution Agreement is an important step that will enhance the NWT’s economic self-reliance. But for some years, accelerated NWT maritime development will need intensified national Arctic planning and investment in transport and infrastructure, especially in offshore and coastal areas.
- The NWT’s shared Beaufort basin with Nunavut, Yukon and Alaska offers excellent regional opportunities in developing safe Arctic marine corridors and ports, joint energy projects and bilateral pan-Arctic cooperation as the Canadian and US governments become more engaged in Beaufort regional development.
- New mechanisms, such as a Beaufort business council, as proposed by the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER), to advance multi-stakeholder cooperation in the region should be put in place. Pragmatic Arctic cooperation with Russia, the Arctic maritime superpower, should be preserved to the extent possible under increasingly grim geopolitical circumstances.
The CIGI policy brief argues that cooperation with the United States on Arctic economic development should be a top priority in Canada’s bilateral relations, and concludes with a "blueprint for action" for steps the Government of Canada should take for long-term Canadian Arctic maritime development.
CIGI Policy Brief No. 40 by John Higginbotham and Marina Grosu is available as a .PDF download at: www.cigionline.org/sites/default/files/cigi_pb_40.pdf
Source: The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)