Postgraduate Profiles

Polina Zhbanova

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Thesis: Governance of marine resources in the Arctic: current state and predictive changes

This research will contribute towards facilitating ecosystem-based management in the Arctic through focusing on planning and governance. Following a comprehensive gap analysis of relevant studies in this region, the research will explore stakeholders’ perceptions, experiences and expectations of marine resource management in the Arctic and focus on case studies of marine protected areas governance to investigate their effectiveness in the Arctic context, depending on regime and enforcement. This will enable conclusions to be drawn as to the optimal design and implementation of marine resource management programs and activities in this region.

The goal of this proposed research is therefore to: Identify optimal conditions and practices for sustainable marine resource utilisation in the Arctic through analysis of existing institutions, policies and processes.

Why my research is important

Economic and political trends of the last years suggest that the Arctic Ocean is becoming a priority region from environmental, economic and geopolitical perspectives. Climate change, increases in the duration of ice-free periods and a decrease in ice-covered area has enabled the potential exploitation of abundant natural resources of the region, both mineral and biological. This establishes additional pressure on polar ecosystems already heavily impacted by climate change. Following the recognition of the need to adopt effective conservation measures, countries of the region (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) established the Arctic Council in 1996, with a mandate to “promote cooperation, coordination and interaction… on common Arctic issues; in particular, issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic”. A series of initiatives on the protection of the Arctic seas emerged under aegis of this organisation, as well as in national governments, local communities, and NGOs. A new Arctic Marine Strategic Plan (2015-2025) and a Framework for an Arctic Marine Protected Areas network are being developed at circumpolar level. This research is well in line with the existing initiatives aimed to adopt an ecosystem-based management approach which is currently at very different stages of development in the Arctic countries.

Funding

Sep 2014

Sep 2017