Developing benefit-sharing standards in the Arctic: Toward coexistence of oil and gas companies and traditional indigenous communities

Arctic indigenous communities do not necessarily benefit from oil and gas extraction as it threatens their traditional livelihoods of hunting, fishing and reindeer herding. Most transnational corporations (TNCs) in the Arctic oil and gas sector have declared their commitment to benefit-sharing standards that protect indigenous rights to land and access to traditional resources, but the local implementation of these standards is highly variable.

TThis project explains processes of institutionalization of benefit-sharing standards through an analysis of the governance of oil production networks and their implications for global rules and local practices related to indigenous communities. The project uses the concept of Governance Generating Networks (GGN), consisting of oil company networks, state agencies, and civil society actors. Interactions among these actors in forums of negotiations link the transnational level (where the global standards are developed) with the local level (sites of implementation).

The project identifies four ideal types of oil governance networks: the shareholder mode, the partnership mode, the CSR mode and the paternalistic mode. The project analyses when these modes emerge, how they lead to different modes of governance, and assesses their impact on the level of compensation and economic support to local communities and indigenous people. Cases include sites of oil extraction near indigenous communities in the Russian Arctic and Alaska. The project is academically innovative in that it combines ethnography of particular territories of oil extraction with a sociological analysis of global governance networks.

Dutch policy makers will be able to use the findings of this project to advise the Arctic Council on how industry standards of the oil and gas sector can be improved to more effectively channel benefits to indigenous communities in a way that it simultaneously fosters economic development, empowers local actors and conserves traditional indigenous practices.

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