“The most important thing for people to know about the governance of the Arctic is that we have a chance now
to act to maintain the integrity of the system or to lose it. To lose it means that we will dismember the vital
systems that make the Arctic work. It's not just a cost to the people who live there. It's a cost to all people
- Sylvia Earle1
Governance is “the processes of interaction and decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem that
lead to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institutions.”2 In short, it’s the effort to
make good decisions for society.
From my perspective, the news is good. Arctic governance is gaining strength, both within the US and
internationally. Despite stressful changes tied to global geopolitical pressures and dramatic climate
change, cooperation continues to be the theme in dialog, actions, and outcomes in the Arctic. The
world’s ability to set aside sharp policy differences experienced at lower latitudes, in order to work
together at the higher ones is, perhaps, a testament to the special value the world places on the Arctic.
Fran Ulmer is Special Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State on Arctic Science and Policy and Chair of the U.S. Arctic