Commentary: Sustainable Utilization Of The Arctic's Natural Resources

  • Norman A. Chance
Keywords: Economic policy, Environmental policy, Environmental protection, Human ecology, Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Natural resources, Social policy, Sustainable economic development, Arctic regions


... The most common rationale underlying present-day approaches to sustainable development is the perceived need to balance economic growth with protection of the environment. Its appeal for industrial enterprise is obvious: capital accumulation requires continual growth. For governments, sustainable economic growth is equally attractive. In addition to providing an obvious bulwark for the maintenance of national power, it also reduces the pressure to reallocate national income to combat social deprivation. As expressed by the economist Herman Daly: "It offers the prospect of more for all with sacrifice for none." Given these and similar attractions, it is hardly surprising that balanced sustainable development has been actively endorsed by international organizations, including those in Canada, the United States, Scandinavia, and Russia; and regional, national, and multinational energy corporations. On the other hand, critics of the balanced view of sustainable development sharply challenge the idea that this process must always be equated with economic growth. ... Another more culturally oriented approach to the sustainable utilization of the Arctic's natural resources can be found in the efforts of northern indigenous organizations such as the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. ... This latter emphasis on the spiritual, social, and cultural interjects a new human ecological perspective to environmental issues often lacking in other approaches associated with sustainability. Underlying each of these approaches to sustainable natural resource development in the Arctic are questions of political power, global economy, and social equity.