About Arctic 2050

The Arctic 2050 research initiative aims to identify how institutional and innovation development can make the intensification of economic activity in the Arctic a key driver of the sustainable development of the region, including social and environmental perspectives.

The Arctic region is going through a serious transformation as it faces the disruptive challenges of climate change and shifting global political, social and economic patterns.

The harsh environmental conditions of the Arctic have long constrained economic activity in the region. The climate crisis, while having a negative impact on the region in some senses, opens up new prospects for the development in others. The Arctic has become a geopolitical hot spot where global and regional players seek to increase their influence. Demographic shifts, transformative urbanisation and sustainable indigenous communities are at core of regional social development.

Understanding the driving forces that will influence the business and political landscape of the Arctic in the coming decades is crucial for policymakers and businesses in order to come up with mutually beneficial approaches for exploiting opportunities without harming the unique Arctic natural and social ecosystem.

The Arctic is far from being an open book for everyone to read. There is a variety of critical uncertainties that might have unpredictable but significant impacts on regional development – the pace of climate change, the trajectory of economic and social development, the dynamics of geopolitics and others. Two specific dimensions of uncertainties are the most critical and could lead to a significant shift in the Arctic region.

  • Quality of institutional environment, including the effectiveness of environmental, social and demographic policies and regulations, the availability of financial incentives and the quality of governance;
  • Pace of technology and innovation development, including the level of digitalisation and connectivity, the commercialisation of technologies, and the cost of doing business.

Different combinations of those critical uncertainties provide very different scenarios of how the Arctic might look like in 2050 and what might be the implications for the sustainable development of the region from the economic, social and environmental perspectives. Each scenario has been associated with one of four distinctive historical periods to make it more self-explanatory.