The Arctic region is unique with its extreme climate and sensitive nature. At the same time it is rich in natural resources such as flora, fauna, energy and mineral deposits. The melting sea ice is also providing new opportunities for transport and logistics. If the Arctic is to be developed in a sustainable manner, it must attract responsible companies that will play a key role in the economic development of the region and beyond. Sustainable economic growth would stimulate job creation, increase the use of environmental efficient technologies and provide innovative solutions for social affairs, culture and tourism in the region. The Arctic region is the home to approximately 4 million people. A sustainable economic growth is important both for the environment and livelihood of Arctic residents. Cooperation and dialogue among the Arctic states, industry and civil society organizations are at the heart of this process, and if done properly, it could pave the way for a unique approach in conducting sustainable business in the Arctic. Responsible business practice implies respect for human rights, labour- and environmental standards (including climate and biodiversity) and anti-corruption.This is mainly a consequence of on-going climate change.

In the Arctic there is not just one but many legal frameworks. Eight countries are members of the Arctic Council, i.e. with territory above the Arctic Circle. This means that there are eight national legislations governing every stateís territory. When it comes to the sea, it is the rules in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), regulating the territorial waters, the exclusive economic zones and the Article 76 on the rights to the continental shelf. Shipping is mainly regulated by International Maritime Organizationís (IMO) Polar Code.

This requires a shipping company to follow different national legislations for harbors, IMOís rules for shipping in polar waters and respecting UNCLOS rules for territorial waters. Sometimes national legislation can differ in the same sector so business operators must adapt their operations depending on their location.

Companies can also self-impose stricter standards than the formal rules and regulations enforces. This is something that the Arctic Council expects Arctic operators to do, to take a proactive approach in protecting this fragile environment.


Container ship Arctic Express gliding from the terminal through Kola Bay to Barents Sea.
(Photo: Flickr.com / euno)