On the 22nd of September, Moscow hosted an international conference to discuss the division of Arctic territory. With the region so rich in natural resources, scientists and politicians were interested to see firstly, which countries were staking a claim, as well as ensuring a co-operative nature between them during these discussions.
According to experts, it is thought that the Arctic Ocean contains one quarter of the world’s untapped oil and gas reserves. The five countries sharing the region; Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US, all want a stake in the Arctic’s energy potential. This comes at a time when the urgency to settle the issue increases as temperatures rise in the region causing the ice caps to melt.
Dr Lawrence C. Smith, ecology professor with UCLA, commented on the legal technicalities the countries could face when making a claim for the territory. Smith explained that “the procedure is complicated by the fact that each of the five nations has its own environmental laws, but within them the protection of nature continues to be a matter of great importance”.
In 2007, a Russian expedition 4,000 metres to the bottom of the North Pole set a precedent for laying claims on the region. The explorers placed a titanium Russian flag on the Arctic seabed and started what is now a race for the Arctic.
Artur Chilingarov, President Dmitry Medvedev’s commissioner for international co-operation in the Arctic and the Antarctic explained, “It’s called ‘The Arctic – territory of dialogue’. All the disputes could be resolved through dialogue. And the best basis for more productive dialogue is scientific research”.