Environmental Impact Assessment in the Arctic

Environmental Impact Assessment in the Arctic

A Guide to Best Practice

Timo Koivurova, Pamela Lesser, Sonja Bickford, Paula Kankaanpää and Marina Nenasheva

Significant growth in economic activity in the Arctic has added weight to the argument that projects must be developed responsibly and sustainably. Addressing growing concerns regarding the exploitation of the Arctic’s natural resources, this timely book presents and evaluates examples of best practice in Arctic environmental impact assessment.

Chapter 2: EIA in the Arctic

Timo Koivurova, Pamela Lesser, Sonja Bickford, Paula Kankaanpää and Marina Nenasheva

Subjects: environment, corporate social responsibility, energy policy and regulation, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law


Before addressing EIA systems in the north, it is important to provide the context in which development activities occur. Conditions in the Arctic are unique in many respects. While the Arctic is still undeveloped, the economic growth that is taking place is occurring rapidly, which impacts the environment and communities in various ways. In addition, the region as a whole is sparsely populated; ecosystems are quite fragile; there is less biodiversity; recovery rates for vegetation are very long; traditional livelihoods still feature prominently and require large amounts of land (e.g. for reindeer herding); and indigenous peoples are playing an increasingly significant role in the approval of development projects. One of the less frequently mentioned defining characteristics is that the Arctic is perhaps the last remaining large geographic region where a very special human–nature relationship still exists, and there remains an opportunity to keep this relationship intact. Like many relatively pristine areas that are newly experiencing a surge in economic activities, an inherent tension exists among the people in the Arctic in that they want to preserve nature but also benefit monetarily from development activities.

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