JJUS00021U Arctic climate change law and governance

Volume 2022/2023

The main objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the law and governance applicable in the Arctic in the face of climate change. Students will learn about the legal challenges presented in a warming Arctic and a broad set of legal and regulatory instruments that can be used to manage this highly dynamic environment, while being aware of different rights and interests at play.  


The course is divided into five parts:

1. Introduction and foundations: law-making, instruments, processes, actors (2 sessions)

2. Natural resources in the Arctic (3 sessions)

3. Activities in the Arctic (3 sessions)

4. Arctic resilience (3 sessions)

5. Concluding session (1 session)

First, the course gives an overview of the main trends and developments in the Arctic in the Anthropocene and the legal foundations (principles, regimes, actors) that apply in the region. After setting the scene, the course centers on the regulation of natural resources in the Arctic, with a focus on both land- and sea-based resources. The students will acquire comprehensive knowledge on Arctic resource management in light of climate change, including tensions between land use, biodiversity protection and human rights. Third, the course delves into activities in the Arctic (tourism, shipping and mining) that contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases, are affected by global warming, and that present a tension between the use and protection of Arctic resources. For example, the desire to protect this unique region vs the need for obtaining minerals for the green transition.  After that, the course focuses on the concept of socio-ecological resilience and the interface with law in the Arctic. A concluding session will summarize the main takeaways of the course.



1. Course introduction, climate change and the Arctic

2. Arctic (climate) governance and relevant legal regimes at play

3. Ocean Resources I (Fishing)

4. Ocean Resources II (Seabed)

5. Land Resources

6. Shipping in the Arctic

7. Arctic tourism

8. Mining in the Arctic

9. Arctic resilience I: Introduction to socio-ecological  (systems) resilience

10. Arctic resilience II: Governing Arctic systems in the face of climate change

11. Arctic resilience III: Combining Law and Resilience

12. Conclusion, Q&A and exam preparation


Learning Outcome
  • Knowledge of legal developments in Arctic governance in the face of climate change, including law-making processes (actors, instruments, principles)
  • Knowledge of the complexity of framing climate change as a legal problem
  • Knowledge of conflicts of interests in the Arctic and the ways in which they are (or fail to be) addressed under the current regulatory framework
  • Skills to identify and discuss the potential and limitations of international law in addressing climate change
  • Skills to respond to arguments and position themselves within the existing international law literature on Arctic regulation
  • Competence to conceptualize the basic scientific dimensions of the impacts of activities and climate change in the Arctic
  • Competence to critically analyse the potential of legal regimes to address climate change related effects in the Arctic
  • Competence to critically reflect on possible future legal developments needed to balance the various interest at stake in a dynamic area
  • Competence to identify the potential and limitations of the current regulatory framework in handling both short-and long-term impacts of climate change and industrial activity in the Arctic
  • temperature goals

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the topic at hand, the literature assigned in this course features up-to-date peer reviewed articles, rather than a single textbook. This ensures that students are also exposed to a variety of perspectives on the topics under discussion. We will ensure that the total number of pages assigned do not exceed 400 pages. A selection of sources are outlined below.


  • Arctic Council. Arctic resilience report. Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre (2016) Executive summary and glossary of terms (p. ix- xvi)
  • Bastmeijer, Kees. "Protecting polar wilderness: Just a western philosophical idea or a useful concept for regulating human activities in the polar regions?." (2009) The Yearbook of Polar Law Online 1.1, 73
  • Bodansky D., Brunnée J. and Rajamani L. International Climate Change Law (2017) OUP
  • Bohman Brita. Conclusion – Effective Legal Design for Resilience Governance. In Bohman, Brita. Legal Design for Social-Ecological Resilience (2021) (Chapter 9)
  • Boylan, B. M. Increased maritime traffic in the Arctic: Implications for governance of Arctic Sea routes (2021) Marine Policy 131
  • Boyle, A., & Chinkin, C. The making of international law (2007) OUP Oxford.
  • Chircop, Aldo, et al. Governance of Arctic shipping: rethinking risk, human impacts and regulation (2020) Springer Nature
  • David Palma, Alix Varnajot, Kari Dalen, Ilker K. Basaran, Charles Brunette, Marta Bystrowska, Anastasia D. Korablina, Robynne C. Nowicki & Thomas A. Ronge. Cruising the marginal ice zone: climate change and Arctic tourism (2019) Polar Geography 42.4, 215
  • Ebbesson, Jonas, and Ellen Hey. Introduction: where in law is social-ecological resilience? (2013) Ecology and Society 18.3.
  • Eva Kaján. Arctic Tourism and Sustainable Adaptation: Community Perspectives to Vulnerability and Climate Change (2014) Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism 14.1, 60
  • Hildebrand, Lawrence P., Lawson W. Brigham, and Tafsir M. Johansson, eds. Sustainable shipping in a changing Arctic (2018) Springer International Publishing
  • Stein, D. Protecting the Arctic Environment from Northwest Passage Shipping in the Era of Climate Change (2019) Tul Envtl LJ 32, 239
Students must be able to read and write in English. There is no need for other previous knowledge.
This course will be taught through a series of interactive lectures, incorporating group work and in-class exercises. As such, students are expected to read the assigned readings and participate actively in class.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 178,25
  • Seminar
  • 28
  • Total
  • 206,25
Continuous feedback during the course
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Type of assessment details
Individual written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

July 26, 2023


August 23, 2023