The Russian Arctic by 2050: Developing Integrated Scenarios




Scenarios of future development pathways in the Arctic created by groups of experts and stakeholders are an effective way to identify and illustrate possible alternatives and options for this region based on anticipated environmental and socioeconomic changes. Although scenarios that assess development trajectories for the Arctic are becoming increasingly popular, there is a relative lack of regional perspective in foresight exercises devoted to the Russian Arctic. This article presents and discusses development scenarios for the Russian Arctic until 2050 that were built by a diverse group of academics, local officials, Indigenous leaders, and business representatives at a scenario workshop in Naryan-Mar, Russia. The scenarios focus on Russia’s Arctic zone and incorporate future visioning of economic development, international cooperation with the West and China, shipping, human and social capital, and Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods in the context of climate change. We apply a novel circular-axial technique to synthesize and combine the 12 initially created thematic scenarios into four final cross-cutting integrated scenarios that describe alternative futures for the Russian Arctic by 2050: Harmonious Arctic, Self-Reliant Arctic, Resource-Dependent Arctic, and Forgotten Arctic.