Canada’s initial engagement with the circumpolar world dates back to the early 1990s when Ottawa and other Arctic capitals jointly created the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) that eventually became the Arctic Council, established twenty years ago by the Ottawa Declaration.
The Canadian foreign policy approach in the early post-Cold War years brought significant contributions to Arctic governance, such as drawing in the new Russian Federation into a now twenty-year cycle of uninterrupted cooperation on environmental security; engaging the United States into Arctic politics through the Arctic Council; and most of all ensuring that indigenous peoples across the region were politically represented in circumpolar affairs.
It was Canada’s initial intent in the 1990s to “shape the nature and thrust of circumpolar affairs, and Canada’s central place therein.” But its ambition to lead in Arctic politics has nevertheless continued to decline over the last two decades, while paradoxically the need for regional engagement by Canada has continued to increase throughout the 2000s.
Climate change and globalization have transformed Arctic politics.
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