2. Aim and scope of the project

The overall aim of the project has been to analyse and learn from the ways in which the future of the Arctic has been thematised and dealt with in recent years. More specifically, we wanted to:

  1. Start making an inventory of future-oriented Arctic studies. What kinds of studies have been performed, and what are the topics they are covering?
  2. Clarify the origin and purpose of the studies. What is their background? How were they initiated? What are their objectives?
  3. Scrutinise the methodological foundation of the relevant studies. Are they expert-based or involving a broader set of stakeholders? Which methods and tools have been applied? On which types of evidence and assumptions do they rely?
  4. Gain insight from the content of the various studies. What are considered to be the main trends and driving forces that are shaping the future of the Arctic? What kinds of futures do they actually depict? What are the main elements of uncertainty?

The project started with an extensive search for literature. We looked for publications that were focusing on the Arctic (either in general or major sub-regions), dealt with socio-economic and political aspects, had a view to the future, and were published during the last ten years.

By using the Web of Science, Google Scholar and other Internet sources we compiled a list of more than a hundred studies. We examined them briefly and excluded those that did not fulfil the criteria listed above. In the following we provide a survey of some 50 books, reports and articles, which have been reviewed by means of a template that was developed at an early stage of the project.

The selected literature is in no way the complete stock of future-oriented Arctic studies. We have omitted a number of interesting scientific publications that were deemed to be either too specialised or paying too little attention to future developments. We also acknowledge the significance of our own geographical location and the language barriers. The survey is limited to studies written in Norwegian, English and German, and notably Norwegian studies are covered well. Hence, there certainly is a bias in the selected literature. Hopefully, more publications will be added later on with better contacts in other countries.