Climate Change is affecting the entire planet, but it is the Arctic that is experiencing some of its most rapid and dramatic effects. A changing Arctic climate and landscape has security, economic, and geopolitical impacts that present significant challenges and opportunities. As the U.S. Department of Defense wrote in its June 2019 Arctic Strategy, it is imperative “to quickly identify threats in the Arctic, respond promptly and effectively to those threats, and shape the security environment to mitigate the prospect of those threats in the future.” The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (“CERL”) and the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s October 2020 conference titled, “Circling the Arctic: Security and the Rule of Law in a Changing North,” will bring together approximately 35 top-tier experts to identify concrete actions and changes to soft and hard law governance structures that can address security challenges and threats arising from Climate Change’s effect on the Arctic.

Each day of programming will recognize that a national security strategy in the Arctic needs to include actions to increase knowledge of the Arctic, enhance operational capacity in the region, protect human security, and strengthen applicable rule-based order. On our first day, we will hold a fireside chat with Maine Senator Angus King who is advancing Arctic policy. We will also hold a public panel discussing approaches to framing policy messaging and educating the public on the climate crisis. The next day – which is the first full day of closed sessions – will focus on identifying strategic impacts of and threats from a changing Arctic. Discussions will address: how melting ice, rising temperatures, and rising sea levels impact human security and defense strategies; economic impacts and opportunities arising from the region’s changing climate; and how Climate Change is facilitating militarization and disruption in the region.

The second full day of closed sessions will explore technological, legal, inter-governmental, and policy responses to a changing Arctic, with a focus on rules-based order. Discussions will address evolving U.S. strategic security strategy in response to regional Climate Change; how technology may help States and individuals overcome the Arctic’s physical challenges and take advantage of new defense, transit, and natural resource development opportunities arising from a changing Arctic; and the capacity of currently available hard and soft law governance structures to address the Arctic’s security and geopolitical challenges. Drawing upon questions raised and recommendations given during the preceding public and closed programming, we will close the conference with a capstone public keynote panel with top security leaders to discuss how to strengthen Arctic security cooperation and development across Arctic borders.