Polar | Wilson Center


The Wilson Center Breaks Ice on Revitalized Polar Initiative

Leading Arctic Expert Tapped to Head Up New Department

WASHINGTON —  The Woodrow Wilson Center announced today that Dr. Michael Sfraga will be the new director of the center’s revitalized Polar Initiative.

Can the U.S. and Russia Avoid an Arctic Arms Race?

The Arctic is currently experiencing major systemic changes as a result of climate change, which could produce greater international cooperation—or competition, and possibly conflict—among the states concerned. Both the United States and Russia have strong interests in keeping the Arctic an area of peaceful cooperation and the institutions and mechanisms exist to support that outcome. The key question is whether current geopolitical tensions will permit that to happen.

Advancing Arctic Economic Development

A recent day-long event, the  Arctic Economic Development Forum, was hosted at the Wilson Center with participants exploring a range of issues related to increasing activity in the polar region. We spoke to one of the key players, Arctic Economic Council Chair, Tara Sweeney, to learn more about efforts to advance regional development. That’s the focus of this edition of  Wilson Center NOW.


Arctic Economic Development Forum


The Wilson Center's Polar Initiative and Institute of the North are co-hosting this forum, which will address the potential for Arctic economic development, the barriers in regional development facing the Arctic, and the paths toward greater economic prosperity in the far north.

IMO Polar Code Roundtable

On Monday, February 29, 2016, the Wilson Center’s Polar Initiative hosted a private, off-the-record roundtable to discuss the forthcoming implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s Polar Code, which goes into force January 1, 2017. Participants included a wide variety of stakeholders and interested parties, representing the shipping industry and maritime services, environmental organizations, and Arctic nations and communities. Welcomed by Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, executive director of the U.S.

Making Nunavut a Full Partner in Canadian Confederation

While Canada’s HDI has long been one of the highest in the world, Nunavut ranks alongside Occupied Palestine and Paraguay with respect to health and educational outcomes. With their stunning recent election victory over the Conservatives, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal government may now have the chance to change that. Prime Minister Trudeau has already sent a strong signal by appointing Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He should now direct his government to take the necessary steps to make Nunavut a full partner in Canadian Confederation.

David Biette Talks to CCTV on How Climate Change Impacts the Arctic

The remoteness of the Arctic region can be costly and stunt economic opportunities, a new path north from Canada is currently being built to aid trade, but not everyone agrees that it’s a road to progress. David Biette talks with CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar about how climate change is impacting the Arctic in this latest installment of CCTV America's series: On Thin Ice.

The Polar Initiative

The Wilson Center’s newest initiative is focusing on the changing environments at the Earth’s poles. From melting ice to energy production and the daily lives of residents, the Arctic and Antarctic will be receiving increased attention and the Wilson Center’s Polar Initiative will be ahead of the curve on many of those emerging topics. We spoke with the David Biette, director of the new initiative, and that discussion provides the focus for this edition of  Wilson Center NOW.

Shell Halts Arctic Drilling

Wilson Center Polar initiative Director David Biette describes the implications of Shell Oil’s decision to halt Arctic drilling. Is this a victory for environmentalists or does it have more to do with the price of oil?