Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 235

235 Arctic Yearbook 2015 which carried 508 passengers and crew (George 2012). The transit naturally raises questions about the availability and capacity of response services in the region, particularly those capable of responding to large-scale incidents. Outside of the Nordic area and some areas proximate to Russian ports, there is little infrastructure in the Arctic to support large-scale emergency response. As a result, any response will likely be delayed by the time required to transfer assets: by ship, air (fixed or rotary-wing aircraft), or surface transport. In addition, the scarcity of infrastructure will complicate this process. There are few ports in which to dock and unload ships; few airfields at which fixed wing aircraft can take off and land; few roads; few facilities that can serve as centralized coordination points for crews and equipment; few hospitals; and few hotels or other mass housing facilities. Without infrastructure, the challenge of large-scale emergency response is magnified. The Arctic Council’s 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) noted concisely that, “growth in Arctic marine tourism is outpacing infrastructure investment, development and support throughout the region” (AMSA: 172). Additionally, further complications arise from the nature of the Arctic region itself: intense cold, extreme weather, and rapid shifts in conditions add risk and delay. Paradoxically, the extreme conditions that hamper response efforts increase risk of mortality through exposure, increasing the urgency of response. In short, emergency response in the Arctic is both extremely important, given the harsh environment, and also extremely challenging, due to distance, conditions, and lack of infrastructure. As ship and air traffic increases, governments are confronted with a policy problem: how to increase emergency response capacity in order to satisfy public need. At first glance, this might seem like a fairly straightforward policy problem: identify the problem (lack of adequate emergency response capacity); identify various options (different locations for infrastructure, funding mechanisms, implementing agencies); select the best option; and implement. All students of public policy will recognize this model. However, upon closer scrutiny the question of improving emergency response capacity across the expanses of the North American (including Greenland) and Siberian Arctic regions is far more complex and difficult than a typical policy problem. This paper will argue that the challenge in fact comprises a “wicked” policy problem, and will apply lessons from the theoretical literature on wicked problems to explore more fully the challenge of emergency response in the Arctic region. Wicked problems: theory and literature The challenge of managing the increase in human activity in the Arctic can be understood as a “wicked” policy problem. Wicked policy problems pose special challenges (Rittel & Webber 1973; Roberts 2000; Bueren, Klijn, & Koppenjan 2003). A wicked problem seems to be endless, and endlessly difficult to define: “it is experienced as ambiguous, fluid, complex, political, and frustrating as hell. In short, it is wicked.” (Roberts 2000: 2). Wicked problems proliferate across the policy spectrum, since by nature they challenge many public policy structures. Wicked problems are “crosscutting”, and therefore difficult to address through “narrow, vertical” arrangements found in Pincus