Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 15

15 Arctic Yearbook 2015 Governance of the Arctic (as structure and agency) is multi-faceted, interconnected and evolving. Above all, it is complex. Exceptionalities of Arctic governance If all politics are local, then it should be no surprise that governance in the Arctic seems to have taken on some unique characteristics, reflective of the culture of the inhabitants, the particularities of the geography, and the time in which many governance and arrangements came into being. There is a pervasive sense of governance in the Arctic being different – even exceptional. How does this manifest itself in practice? First off, Arctic governance seems to be less hierarchical and more decentralized than conventional governance, from the local all the way to the regional level. There is a high premium placed, and increasingly an expectation of, consultation and engagement, a reaction to centuries of control and authority of distant southern capitals over local decision-making. Similarly northern governance often aims for consensus, something that is important when networks are small and close-knit, and the stakes are historically high given the extreme conditions. But the congeniality of consensus is often diminished by the concomitant slowness it imposes on decisionmaking in the 21st century, where rapid business and political changes often call for a more decisive approach. This inclusive approach to decision-making has produced a flattened hierarchy where an unusually diverse collection of stakeholders, not just indigenous and state governments, have had agency in decision-making processes. This includes the private sector, from the presence, though declining, of single industry company towns across the Circumpolar North where the line between work and community life is blurred; to the growing number of Impact and Benefit Agreements and their ilk, which once again is seeing the private sector accept responsibility for traditional state obligations such as training, employment creation, health promotion and infrastructure development. The military has also had an inordinate level of governance and governing involvement in the Arctic, not