A Guide to Best Practice
Introduction: Arctic transformation and its consequences for environmental impact assessment
The Arctic is undergoing social and environmental transformation due mainly to the mega-drivers of economic globalization and climate change that are changing the world everywhere but especially strongly in the Arctic. Up until now, the region has been changed mostly by progressing globalization (which can be defined as ‘. . . the process of increasing economic, political and socio-cultural connections’ (Keskitalo and Southcott 2014)) in all its forms – economic, political, cultural and social – but mostly by economic globalization. The opening of world trade, especially after the end of the Cold War, together with the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and various regional free trade agreements, have all made the Arctic increasingly accessible to business. In addition, bilateral investment treaties (BITs) have afforded protection for investments in the Arctic states and in their northern regions, for example multinational companies conducting mineral exploitation in various parts of the Arctic. As was concluded in the Executive Summary of the Strategic Assessment of Development of the Arctic, a study focused on the European side of the Arctic, ‘Arctic environmental and socioeconomic changes are driven primarily by climate change and the global economy, with demand for resources remaining a key driver of economic developments’ (Stępień et al. 2014, p. xiii).