The Future of Arctic Cooperation in a Changing Strategic Environment: A Report by RAND | Wilson Center
6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

The Future of Arctic Cooperation in a Changing Strategic Environment: A Report by RAND

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

In recent years, the Arctic has been increasingly described as a region of intensifying geostrategic competition. Though cooperation in the Arctic region remains strong, questions have emerged about how resilient it would be to major changes, some of which the region is already experiencing, and whether the current patterns of cooperation between nations would continue.

As the region's ice cover gets thinner and smaller in area due to rising temperatures, a number of factors could change the level of cooperation among countries interested in the Arctic region. These include resource-rich areas becoming accessible, increase in the usage of maritime sea routes by both commercial and military traffic, and the increase of new opportunities and elevated risks to coastal communities in the far north.

New RAND analysis presents the results of a table-top exercise that examined factors that could potentially upset Arctic cooperation in the 2020 decade, focusing on overlapping extended continental shelf claims, increased maritime activity, and maritime incidents. This exercise confirmed the solidity of Arctic cooperation, but also identified potential "wild cards" that could make negotiated solutions more difficult to reach.



  • Michael Sfraga

    Director, Global Risk and Resilience Program and Director, Polar Institute


  • Sherri Goodman

    Senior Fellow
    Former U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security)


  • Ambassador David Balton

    Senior Fellow
    Ambassador for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S. Department of State, retired
  • Stephanie Pezard

    Political Scientist, RAND Corporation
  • Abbie Tingstad

    Physical Scientist, RAND Corporation
  • James (Jim) Townsend

    Global Fellow
    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Council, Center for a New American Security; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO