Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

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PCRC Fourth International Symposium “International Law for Sustainability in Arctic Resource Development”

Kobe University Polar Cooperation Research Centre (PCRC) held its fourth international symposium “International Law for Sustainability in Arctic Resource Development” on 17-18 December 2018. PCRC was established in order to promote research on Arctic international legal and policy issues in October 2015. PCRC held its kick-off symposium overviewing the present status of the Arctic legal order-making in December 2015, the second symposium focusing on legal order-making in the Arctic Ocean in July 2016, and the third focused on the role of non-arctic states / actors in the Arctic legal order-making.

The fourth symposium discussed the issues relating to mineral resource development in the Arctic, with a special focus on the future of mineral resource governance in the Arctic, addressing its economic, social and environmental dimensions in a balanced and integrated manner, as called for by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For its fourth symposium, various stakeholders including the academia in the field of natural and social science, indigenous communities and the business sectors invited by PCRC from Japan and abroad made presentations and participated actively in the discussion. A total of 65 participants attended the symposium

On the first day of the symposium, in the session on natural resource developments in Greenland, presentations were made by Professor Rachael Lorna Johnstone from the University of Akureyri (Iceland) and the University of Greenland, Ms. Tukummingiaq Nykjær Olsen from Inuit Circumpolar Council Greenland, Professor Shin Sugiyama from the Institute of Low Temperature Science at Hokkaido University, and Assistant Professor Minori Takahashi from Hokkaido University. Discussants hold discussions from various perspectives such as legal, indigenous, natural science and politics. The second day focused on achieving sustainability from a business and economic dimension in the Arctic. Presentations were made by Mr. Bruce Harland, co-chair of the Responsible Resource Development working group at the Arctic Economic Council and Vice President of Crowley Maritime Corporation, Mr. Daisuke Harada, project director and economist of the Russia Project Group at Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), Mr. Kong Soon Lim at Messrs Dorairaj, Low & Teh and others. Active discussions among the speakers and the floor continued during the session. The PCRC symposia are renowned for its long and substantive discussion and allowing active discussions among speakers, discussants and the floor in order to deepen our understanding on the issues.

PCRC has published the outcome of the symposia in a book, such as Towards an International Legal Order for the Arctic (in Japanese, 2018), based on the second symposium, from Toshindo, and Emerging Legal Orders in the Arctic: The Role of Non-Arctic Actors (2019), based on the third symposium, from Routledge. PCRC is now planning to publish a special issue of Cambridge’s Polar Record, an online quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering all aspects of polar issues, based on the academic research presented during the fourth symposium.

For the report with pictures, see PCRC website.

Masanori Goto (Hokkadio University, a member of theme 7)