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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Frozen assets : private sector actors in arctic governance Parente, Genevieve


The circumpolar Arctic epitomizes global change as political, social, and economic activities continually reconfigure the region. Diverse actors negotiate around a range of pressing issues such as climate change, trade, defence, and natural resource development. In this international milieu, states seek to pursue national interests as well as cooperate with non-state, supra-national, and sub-national entities that increasingly influence the governance landscape. This project examines how private sector development and state interests interplay in efforts to develop Arctic natural resources and asks what this tells us about the role of the private sector in regional governance. This project contributes to theories of new forms of state power and the political construction of space, especially in critical geopolitical literature. It connects Arctic development and geopolitical literatures through an analysis of the implications of private sector development decisions for state sovereignty. It examines evolving forms of transnational governance in the context of globalized political and socio-economic processes. The circumpolar region is an excellent laboratory for scholars to consider similar issues of sustainability in broader global contexts. This study draws its empirical analysis from two case studies: the Siberian city of Norilsk, Russia and the North Slope Borough in Alaska, USA. The cases focus on recent multi-party policy negotiations at these sites of natural resource development. They are theorized in their own right, as examples of processes in diverse regions, with linkages between them also drawn out. I use a methodological approach that emphasizes the ‘how’ of governance, and explores the practices of policy-making. This framework captures the dynamic social processes that underlie governance in the circumpolar region. This dissertation aims to understand the intertwined roles of states and private sector actors in Arctic political affairs. However, it also contributes to our understanding of the global political economy beyond the Arctic. Economic development and investment decision-making in the circumpolar region have implications for Arctic states, global natural resource markets, energy importing states, as well as for northern residents.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International