HUMAN CAPITAL IN THE NORTH
Lassi Heininen, Heather Exner-Pirot & Joël Plouffe
The year 2014 has been an uneasy one for the Arctic region in many ways. A ‘race’ for access and
control over the North Pole (between Canada and Russia), though played by the UNCLOS rules,
and the crisis, and warfare, in Ukraine has wrought tension between Russia and its Arctic
neighbours, casting a shadow over Arctic affairs if not outright jeopardizing them. The Canadian
Chairmanship of the Arctic Council has attracted attention, but not always the good kind, for its
focus on economic development, as well as the (first ever) boycotting of Arctic Council meetings.
Following several years of converging interests, cleavages have been exposed between West and
East; between those advocating for development versus those for protection; and on whether, and
how, to consolidate or expand regional cooperation.
Where unanimity exists is on the issue of enhancing human capital in the Arctic, and throughout the
North, at both the local and regional levels. But there again the questions remain: capacity for
whom, and for what? While this is not an issue particular to 2014 - the Arctic Human Development
Report’s first edition, published in 2004, documented this a decade ago - it has definitely been a
continued area of collaboration between state and non-governmental actors across the Arctic. At
the local level, efforts to improve access to education and training have been accompanied by efforts
to promote indigenous language use and transmit traditional knowledge, as well as to promote
health and well-being. Regionally, the need for better understanding of the Arctic environment and
Lassi Heininen is Editor, and Heather Exner-Pirot and Joël Plouffe are Managing Editors of the
Arctic Yearbook 2014.