FEATURE INTERVIEW: Is Barents transport plan a model for the Beaufort region in the North American Arctic?


Transport Ministers from the four Barents countries: Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway,released the Joint Barents Transport Plan this week in conjunction with the Narvik Conference on Arctic shipping and development in Norway.

The plan covers everything from railway and roads to ports and air travel. Experts say this comprehensive regional planning will allow the Barents countries to take advantage of increased economic activity in the European Arctic.

The Beaufort region in Alaska and Canada’s western Arctic has harsher ice conditions and is less developed in terms of infrastructure compared to the Barents region.

But some experts say the Transport Plan could provide a model for the Beaufort region of the North American Arctic.

“I think there’s a great variety of important transport and economic development proposals that will only get the high level attention they need in Washington and Ottawa if this area is looked at as a single economic region of great benefit to everyone,” says John Higginbotham, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, an independent Canadian think tank, and a Senior Distinguished Fellow and Canada’s Carleton University located in Ottawa.

“I know that at a regional level among Alaskans, Yukon government and the Northwest Territories government there’s a real will to cooperate and to look at issues on a regional basis but I’m not sure yet that we have the buy-in from Washington and Ottawa to take that approach.”

To find out more, I spoke to John Higginbotham, earlier this week.

To listen to our conversation, click here

Related Links:

Norwegian conference looks at development in Barents Region, Eye on the Arctic

Presentations from the Narvik Conference 2013

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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