4. Background and purpose of the selected studies

Why have the studies been undertaken? Who have initiated them and for what purpose? The literature we have surveyed has different origins. All in all, the studies can be divided into four:

Firstly, there are a number of reviews or formal assessments undertaken with a mandate from a political body. These include five assessments commissioned by the Arctic Council ministers (Arctic Council 2004a, 2004b, 2007, 2009, 2010) and various reports from national governments or their agencies (for instance, Faggruppa 2005; Øseth 2010, Lian 2010). The European Commission and Nordic Council of Ministers also have ordered reports about the future of the Arctic (Ecologic Institute 2010; Rasmussen 2011). The main aim of these studies is to raise public awareness and to provide a knowledge base for policy decisions.

Secondly, several reports are commissioned by private companies and business associations, sometimes with joint public financing. The studies of future petroleum development are mostly financed by the oil industry (Brunstad et al. 2004; Fekete Associates & Vector Research 2005; Barlindhaug 2005, 2006; ECON 2006; Arbo et al. 2007; Northern Economics 2009). Other studies with similar origin cover Arctic marine shipping, the future of a region, and the visions and prospects associated with an Arctic city hosting the Winter Olympic Games (Brunstad 2007; Olsen & Iversen 2009; Blakkisrud 2008). When such studies are made publicly available, the main aim is usually to justify strategic business initiatives, influence key policy-makers and mobilise public support. That is, they are made to influence the strategies of others than those who commissioned them.

Thirdly, quite a few of the studies are independent initiatives from the author himself (yes, there are no women among them). One author raising an Arctic agenda, reporting from the scientific literature, travelling in the region and making interviews, could be characterised as a genre in itself (travelogues). Anderson (2009), Seidler (2009), Hannemann (2010), Fairhall (2010), Emmerson (2010) and partly Smith (2010) belong to this category. These studies have been written either to inform the general public, to stimulate debate or to disperse the results from scientific and technical studies.

Even though we have few studies in our survey that could be characterised as typically scientific or mainly research oriented, this is a fourth category that should be mentioned. Some of the studies try to break new ground, and some stand out more clearly as academic contributions. Among these, we would include Mejlænder-Larsen & Espeland (2009), DNV (2010) and to some extent IISS (2008).

A common denominator of most of the studies is that they have been launched to prepare for some kind of response to the future developments that are explored. They are written for different audiences, but as they have been made public, the results may reach beyond the intended target group.