Towards a Holistic Cross-Border Environmental Governance in the European Arctic

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Purpose—It is the purpose of this paper to show that holistic, interdisciplinary researchhas a key role to play in the study of cross-border environmental governance. This will beshown by using the example of the northernmost regions of continental Europe, in particularthe border regions between Norway and Finland and between Sweden and Finland, respectively.This text is meant to inspire a debate on the modalities of future research related toArctic governance and to suggest that Arctic governance research requires a broader researchphilosophy that transcends the dominant views from the perspectives of law and political sciences.This paper argues that effective governance research needs to be inclusive, emphasizethe needs of local communities, and be interdisciplinary by including not only political andlegal sciences but also know-how in fields such as such as anthropology, geography, history,administrative science, regional studies, etc., in order to provide benefits for local communities.Hence, academic literature from different areas of social sciences will be utilized.Design, Methodology, Approach—The authors introduce the reader to existingresearch on different aspects of cross-border environmental governance in the EuropeanHigh North and show the feasibility and potential impact of interdisciplinary research oncross-border schemes for environmental governance andbiodiversity protection. Findings—This paper is not so much meant as a recapitulation or summary of researchbut rather contains a call for action by establishing the outlines for a new approach in internationaland interdisciplinary research into cross-border environmental governance, witha particular view to the protection of biodiversity in the Arctic. It is shown that such anapproach can be developed based on already existing research.Practical implications—Across the circumpolar Arctic, residents are highly dependenton a healthy natural environment. This protection is at the heart of international cooperativeefforts to govern the region. Using the example of cross-border environmental governancein the European High North (EHN), it will be shown that it is essential to considerthe needs and interests of local communities beyond political constraints, such as nationalborders. Such interdisciplinary research has the potential to contribute to strengthening theposition of local stakeholders in the area in question. This includes rural, indigenous, andunderrepresented communities. In addition, such interdisciplinary research can strengthenthe capacities of relatively small cross-border institutions, such as border river commissions,by generating and sharing scientific knowledge; the generation of which would have beenbeyond the economic, technical, or other means of such institutions often providing publicservices that are disproportionately important in relation to their size or funding.Originality, value—The paper builds on existing research through the combination ofdifferent disciplines, such as international law, political sciences, anthropology, regionalstudies, urban studies, marine environmental governance, and social sciences. Further, thepaper outlines a vision for an additional layer of research that can be built on top of theexisting scientific basis. What is more, it will provide a holistic view of multidimensionalgovernance structures in border areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-46
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Territorial and Maritime Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2022
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • anthropology
  • Arctic
  • environment
  • governance
  • indigenous rights
  • law
  • place-based regional development
  • research philosophy

Field of science

  • Law


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