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Detail Summary
Date 16 December 2013
Time 17:00 - 18:30

The melting of the ice of the Arctic due to global warming has offered new economic opportunities for (coastal) states and businesses. Areas that until recently were covered in ice are now opening up, creating new navigational routes between Asia and Europe, enabling the exploitation of oil and gas resources that had been previously located in inaccessible areas. The Netherlands as well as Dutch companies are among those who want to capitalise on these new opportunities. The Netherlands’ policy framework concerning the Netherlands and the polar regions (Beleidskader Nederland en de Poolgebieden 2011-2015) addresses the importance of the Arctic area for the Dutch industry. Shell has already conducted some exploratory drillings in the Arctic area.

This increase in economic activities raises a fundamental question: who is responsible for the management, use and protection of the Arctic area? The new economic activities can pose significant risks to the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic. The international legal regime may not be fully adjusted for regulating the surge in economic activities. The Dutch policy framework (Beleidskader) describes the Arctic administrative system as a geographic and legal patchwork. In this situation, the question arises who decides what risks are acceptable and those which are not. Who has the obligation to ensure that the rules on nature protection are adequate and enforced in the event of a breach? The five coastal states (the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark/Greenland) that exercise authority over most of the oil and gas resources play an important role. However, many other states have become involved in the discussion, amongst others China, Japan, South-Korea and indeed the Netherlands. In addition, non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature are increasingly interfering with the Arctic area, which leads to conflicts with the coastal states involved as well as multinationals.

In this complex situation, where different considerations are in tension with one another, the question is what is the role and responsibility of the Netherlands and Dutch companies? How will the Netherlands strike a balance between the economic interests and gains involved, and protecting the ecosystem of the Arctic? And what is the responsibility of Dutch companies such as Van Oord, Boskalis and Shell in this respect?

In this SHARES debate, three speakers will discuss the role and responsibility of the Netherlands concerning the management of the Arctic area.

Please note that this SHARES Debate will take place in Dutch.

SHARES Debates are organized by SHARES in cooperation with SPUI25, an academic centre of the University of Amsterdam, which develops connections between academics, students, alumni, and a larger public outside the university.

SPUI25 holds regular lectures, debates and interviews aiming at reflecting on current events and engaging with a heterogenous audience.

Registration is mandatory through SPUI25.