Camden Conference - Geopolitics of the Arctic: A Region in Peril
Monday, March 29 at 2:00 pm
Speaking in Maine takes us to the 2021 Camden Conference to explore the Arctic, one of the world’s least-known regions. The Arctic already is undergoing dramatic, irreversible changes traceable to global warming, and as these changes impact the pace of climate change, they forewarn of the challenges ahead for human, animal and plant habitats in this and other regions.
We examined how this transformation of the Arctic is creating a new arena for global power and competition. With the retreating ice mass will come new opportunities to pursue exploration and extraction of vast resources. Will there be unregulated competition, or cooperation among governments and industries? What kinds of security challenges will come with ice-free borders? The territories of eight nations extend into the Arctic, but others —especially China— will assert rights of access and passage. Open waters will make shipping between Pacific and Atlantic ports much cheaper. What could all this mean for Maine with its accessible northern ports, maritime industry, and vulnerable location on a rising ocean?
In this first episode of our three part series, we will hear talks by Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson on The Epicenter of Geopolitics and Climate Change; Sergei Medvedev on Russia’s Symbolic Politics in the Arctic; and David Balton on Strengthening Governance of the Arctic Region.
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
Former President of Iceland Chairman, Arctic Circle
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was elected President of Iceland in five nationwide elections, serving from 1996 to 2016. Previously, he had been Minister of Finance, Member of Iceland’s Parliament, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the University of Iceland’s first Professor of Political Science.
He now serves as Chairman of the Arctic Circle, the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic with more than 2000 participants from 60 countries. As an active participant in the global climate dialogue during his Presidency and thereafter, President Grímsson has initiated and promoted clean energy projects in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, especially ones demonstrating Icelandic achievements and technologies. These include the world’s largest geothermal projects, located in numerous Chinese cities. He has been Chairman of an international commission on the new geopolitics emerging from global renewable energy transformation, and he also served on the Advisory Board of Sustainable Energy for All, created by the United Nations and World Bank. He is also involved in international cooperation on the oceans. President Grímsson has received many international awards, including the Nehru Award for International Understanding, presented by the President of India.
Professor, Moscow Free University
Author and Journalist
Sergei Medvedev is a journalist, television and radio host, and political scientist. Now a professor at Moscow Free University, Dr. Medvedev also taught for 16 years at the School of Economics in Moscow and earned multiple awards. He has worked at the Marshall Center for Security Studies in Germany, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (Ebenhausen), and the Istituto Affari Internazionali (Rome). Dr. Medvedev advocates international control over the Arctic, based on the Antarctic model. He believes Russia has a special responsibility to protect the Arctic and advocates a ban on oil drilling and economic activity and on military actions and movements. Dr. Medvedev’s most recent book is The Return of the Russian Leviathan.
He earned a B.A. in International Journalism from Charles University in Prague, a M.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in History of International Relations and Foreign Policy at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Medvedev has completed dozens of world marathons, several mountain marathons and ultramarathons in the Alps, the Tour Transalp cycle race (twice), and the Arctic Circle Race ski race in Greenland (twice).
Senior Fellow, Polar Institute, Wilson Center, Washington D.C.
Former US Ambassador, Oceans and Fisheries
David Balton is a Senior Fellow at the Polar Institute in the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Ambassador Balton previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and Fisheries, attaining the rank of Ambassador in 2006. He coordinated U.S. foreign policy concerning oceans and fisheries, as well as issues relating to the Arctic and Antarctica. Ambassador Balton has been the lead U.S. negotiator on a wide range of agreements. During the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2015-2017), he served as Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials. He also co-chaired Arctic Council Task Forces that produced the 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement and the 2013 Arctic Oil Pollution Agreement. He separately chaired negotiations to produce an Arctic fisheries agreement.
Earlier, he had been Director of the Office of Marine Conservation at the State Department and worked in the Office of Legal Advisor, where he dealt with issues related to the law of the sea, human rights and international claims. Ambassador Balton received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Georgetown University. He has appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra (juggling oranges).