Since its inception in 2017, the Polar Institute has become a premier forum for discussion and policy analysis of Arctic and Antarctic issues, and is known in Washington, DC and elsewhere as the Arctic Public Square. The Institute holistically studies the central policy issues facing these regions—with an emphasis on Arctic governance, climate change, economic development, scientific research, security, and Indigenous communities—and communicates trusted analysis to policymakers and other stakeholders.
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U.S. Extended Continental Shelf
Visit the Polar Institute's comprehensive hub dedicated to the United States Extended Continental Shelf (ECS). Explore the background and impact of the US ECS Project through a variety of ECS-related publications and content, and dive into an informative journey through the depths of maritime boundaries and resources.Learn More
Explore our Core Thematic Focuses
Science Research and Climate Change
Climate change is the principle driver of most all other changes in the Arctic. Research is critical to understanding these far-reaching environmental changes and is essential in the creation of informed policy.
Indigenous peoples, communities, and ways of life are, in many places under pressure to adapt to changes in the environmental, social, and political landscape.
Viable and sustainable economic development in the Arctic is required to realize the full potential of a region that lacks, in many part of the Arctic, basic investments in infrastructure, services, or scalable commerce with linkages from local communities to global markets.
The Polar Institute highlights the many forms of Arctic security, including human security, environmental security, health security, and military security. While addressing issues like national security, homeland security, community security, water and food security, the Institute explores the complex set of issues emerging within the Great Power Competition in the Arctic between the United States, Russia, and China. These "securities" of the Arctic will evolve as more actors enter the region and global tensions elsewhere continue to challenge the idea of a peaceful Arctic region with related governance and cooperative structures.
To maintain the cooperative nature of Arctic relations, governance structures—like the Arctic Council—must be properly supported.
The Wilson Center has partnered with the Government of Greenland to help inform, frame, and communicate future opportunities and challenges the Government will address in the coming decades.
Arctic Infrastructure Inventory
An initiative tracking Arctic infrastructure projects, with over 8,000 entries.
Polar Perspectives is a publication series addressing the many important and dynamic issues occurring in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Arctic Security Dialogues
Hosted with Arctic Domain Awareness Center, these programs address a broad spectrum of security issues to include, but not limited to national security, homeland security, and the many components of civil security.
Dr. Michael Sfraga
Once considered remote and isolated, the Arctic region is now part of the global political, social, economic, security, and geopolitical landscape—this reality requires research and policy analysis now more than ever.
His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
It has been a privilege to see how the Wilson Center is embracing the emerging Arctic and the Global Arctic as a part of the portfolio of this distinguished Institute.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
[The Polar Institute] is where we seem to be hosting these significant conversations.
Ambassador Kåre R. Aas
I want to commend the Wilson Center for what [the Polar Institute] has achieved in a short period of time.
Ambassador Bergdís Ellertsdóttir
In an increasingly complex world basing our decisions on sound science and know-how is and will be, of the essence for sustainable development. People, not least our young people, are calling for responsible decision-making and decisive actions towards sustainability, and events such as this one contribute to and thus support the work of the Arctic Council. I want to, in this context, thank the Wilson Center for their tireless efforts in this regard.
Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson
The Wilson Center’s approach on its subject matters, offering high-quality views on issues of real international importance, has seldom been as relevant as in today’s increasingly complex world. We need interdisciplinary approaches to be able to fully understand the challenges we face and to seize the opportunities that rapid changes in our region bring about.
Minister Ane Lone Bagger
I want to thank the director of the Polar Institute and the Global Risk and Resilience Program here at the Wilson Center, Dr. Mike Sfraga, for being a good friend of Greenland, who takes genuine interest into helping us raise awareness in Greenland in Washington, DC through our Greenland Dialogues partnership.
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