Colloquium by Froukje Zuidema: Balancing Interest between Economy and Environment in the Arctic

Published on
December 6, 2018

You are hereby cordially invited to the MSc thesis presentation by Froukje Zuidema entitled ‘Balancing Interest between Economy and Environment in the Arctic. Liberal environmentalism as an explanatory device’.

Supervisor: Dr Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen
Examiner: Prof. Katrien Termeer
Date: 18 December 2018
Time: 13.00 – 14.00 hours
Location: room C70, Leeuwenborch


Climate change creates both challenges and opportunities for the Arctic region. There are, on the one hand, significant negative impacts on the environment from climate change requiring environmental management and on the other hand there is the chance of new economic activities and development such as shipping, mining and oil and gas exploitation. The Arctic Council, established in 1996, is the political arena where the eight Arctic States, six Indigenous Peoples Organizations and 39 the Arctic and Non-Arctic observers discuss issues regarding the topics of climate change, environmental protection and economic development in the Arctic Region.  There is a challenge for the actors, who are active in the Arctic, to balance the trade-off between environmental protection and economic development.

This thesis looks through the lens of liberal environmentalism at the interest-based positions of the three ‘types’ of actors, namely the Member States, the Permanent Participants and the Observers, in the Arctic Council. With the theory of liberal environmentalism it seeks to explain how these actors balance between economic interest and the environmental agenda. The aim is to contribute to the debate around how norms and social structure influences actors’ interest-based positions. The significant finding is that the norm-complex, which provides the core characteristic of liberal environmentalism – as defined by Bernstein - seems to play a role for the interest-based positions of the actors in the AC regarding the trade-off between economy and environment.

Keywords: Arctic Council, Liberal Environmentalism, Norm-complex, and Social Structure