Studies by Undergraduate Researchers at Guelph (SURG) Arctic meltdown: A problematic property rights structure translates into poor resource management

Olivia Mancuso
As access to the Arctic region continues to grow, many land-use issues have become increasingly prominent. The exposure of shorter shipping routes, unresolved maritime boundaries between the bordering states, and most importantly, the plethora of renewable and non-renewable resources in the region have created a strain on international relations between the states bordering the Arctic. Rising global temperatures have created the promise and opportunity of better access to natural resources in
more » ... e coming years, raising the likelihood of potentially substantial economic gains to the bordering states. However, the current property rights structure in the Arctic, as governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), dictates that the jurisdiction of each coastal nation state shall not exceed past 200 nautical miles beyond the coastline of each respective state. The goal of this report is to provide an assessment of the basic property rights that govern the Arctic territory in an attempt to illuminate how current and future inefficiencies in natural resource extraction and management can result from a poor property rights structure. The current property rights structure has led to a departure from an efficient allocation of rights and as a result currently operates under an anticommons scenario, while also setting the stage for a tragedy of the commons in the not so distant future. To move away from these sub-optimal outcomes and toward more efficient resource management, open communication, cooperation, and better defined property rights are important components needed to strengthen resource management among Arctic states. Keywords: Arctic land-use and property rights (assessment of); natural resource extraction and management (inefficiencies in); anticommons scenario; tragedy of the commons; Arctic Council; UNCLOS