Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 11

11 Arctic Yearbook 2014 the natural resources within it – a precondition for promoting best practices for sustainable development – have led to new investments in science and engineering, as well as new innovations in legal and political arrangements. The Arctic is a region where the needs and opportunities far outweigh the h uman capacity to address them. But for which needs, which opportunities, and by which processes, will capacity be built? Conceptualizing Human Capital The term ‘human capital’ is not a new one in the Arctic, and refers to the skills and competencies, especially those derived from education and other learning, of those who live and work in the region. Current attempts to improve human capacity often seek to address the real and perceived deficits of the region: the unemployment, low educational attainment, and poor health outcomes both in cities and small settlements; and the inability of large resource extraction projects to fill their workforce needs without resorting to imported or temporary labour. Others focus on maintaining and passing along traditional knowledge, from Nunavik’s indigenous language training in primary schools to the Sami Education Institute’s crafts and design program. Does a choice need to be made between an education that prepares Northerners for employment in the 21st century and one which passes on culture? Or can the globalized Arctic become a model for a third way, where modernity does not demand homogeneity? There is legitimate concern that indigenous communities are being prepared to participate in the Arctic boom, but will be ill-prepared to cope with the bust. What will happen to these settlements and environments when the ‘bonanza’ of mass-scale exploitation is over? This is already the case in many non-indigenous northern regions across Russia, Canada and Scandinavia, set adrift following the rapid expansion and settlement of northern resource towns in the mid-20th century, which inevitably peaked and declined. Different strategies are needed to address human capacity in the aging, rural areas of the North compared to those in young, indigenous communities, but these are run-of-the-mill regional development problems and garner much less attention from policymakers. And no one is asking what will happen if the boom never comes at all. There is also legitimate concern that due to the recent and regional crises, in which Arctic states are involved, the current era of high political stability, based on a keen international cooperation and much supported by non-state actors, may be lost. In this environment the human-built stability and peacefulness of the Arctic is an achievement and can, even should, be interpreted as a joint valuable asset by the eight Arctic states and a reserve for the future, the moment when it is, again, needed to calm down and to press reset (see Heininen, Future Security of the Global Arctic, Palgrave Pivot: forthcoming). The situation might come sooner than later, when the international community, as well as the entire world order, is facing more serious and irrational warfare or brute violence, such as the threat by ISIS and the exploding middle East, real world-wide epidemic challenges and threats like Ebola, and the impacts of climate change and the Anthropocene. In this situation the Arctic region with its human capital could act as a test ground and a workshop to examine and test new and innovative ways of governance, decision-making and human security. This goes beyond state Introduction