Polar | Wilson Center


America Must Act on the North and South Poles

The two poles of our planet — the Arctic and Antarctica — demand greater attention right now. For decades, the United States has played a leadership role in both regions, a responsibility that it must continue to fulfill as a warming climate and other drivers of change are creating new challenges and opportunities. Regrettably, the Trump administration has not devoted the resources or high-level attention necessary to maintaining American leadership position on these critical matters.

Fleeing Change: Relocating the Village of Newtok, Alaska

The Village of Newtok, a Yupik Eskimo community of 450 residents, faces certain destruction from a slow-moving climate disaster. Coastal and river erosion of the Ninglick River embankment and degradation of the region's underlying permafrost have already destroyed critical infrastructure in the village, including the only barge landing, a solid waste site, and soon a freshwater source. Newtok may no longer be a viable community by 2020 and has been working to relocate to Mertarvik, a site nine miles upriver.

The Only Congressman Living Inside the Arctic Circle


Don Young (R-Alaska) proudly bears the distinction of being the sole member of the U.S. Congress to live within the Arctic Circle. On the sidelines of the Wilson Center-Arctic Circle Forum, he described a regional Arctic identity that sometimes usurps national identity; growing economic competition in the far north; and what it might take for the United States to truly consider itself an Arctic nation.

China in the Arctic

The polar regions are an important zone for China’s emergence as a global power. China has long-term strategic interests in the Arctic and economic interests are part of the reason why China is drawn to be active there, though not the sole factor. There has been a lot of international debate and media coverage of China’s economic interests in the Arctic; however, relative to the government’s strategic agenda, China’s major companies have been slow to take up the opportunities available to them in the polar regions and are still relatively weak in polar equipment and expertise.

Day 2: Wilson Center-Arctic Circle Forum

The Global Arctic: Opportunities and Challenges

Building on the June 21 sessions focused on the U.S. and Russia in the Arctic, this set of panels explored two areas of critical importance to the Arctic states and the global community. Experts shared perspectives on key priorities for economic development in the Arctic and on the challenges and needs for cooperation to ensure international support in Arctic waters.

A Pyrrhic Victory in Antarctica?

This article was originally published in The Diplomat.

PODCAST: Providing for the Periphery

Rich in natural resources, poor in nearly every human development indicator. The description applies to many of the most-conflict ridden states in the world, but also to a region often forgotten in global development circles: the Arctic North.