Recording: The Future of Arctic and High North Security

An address by the Foreign Minister of Iceland and panel discussion on the future of Arctic and High North Security in collaboration with the University of Iceland and British Embassy, Reykjavik.

Watch the event recording


The Arctic and Europe’s High North have become strategically important to the UK. Yet upholding a tension-free Arctic is likely to become more difficult, as the effects of climate change – the opening of sea routes and access to natural resources – create new opportunities but also new governance requirements, as well as the potential for regional competition and even conflict. Russia’s military modernisation is promoting a shift in the regional security environment that requires a reconsideration of regional hard security concerns.

The Arctic and High North have not previously featured prominently in UK defence and security policy documents. But, since 2018, more focus has been given to the region, with the publication of the UK’s Arctic policy – ‘Beyond the ice: UK policy towards the Arctic’. The region is referenced both in the 2021 Integrated Review and the Defence Command Paper. Moreover, the House of Commons Defence Select Committee 2018 report ‘On Thin Ice: UK Defence in the Arctic’ considered the change in the natural environment and its implications for UK defence policy.

This event considers:

  • How is climate change changing the geopolitics of the Arctic? What is the impact on security concerns for European countries?
  • What formats for increasing cooperation on Arctic security could be enhanced or created within Europe?
  • What are the emerging risks and how can they be mitigated?
  • How can tensions within the Arctic best be managed? What hard power levers are available to the UK and its allies?

About the speakers

Keynote remarks will be delivered by Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, Iceland, and HM Ambassador to Iceland Dr Bryony Mathew.

The speeches will then be followed by a panel discussion chaired by chaired by Peter Jones CMG, RUSI Distinguished Fellow and chair of the RUSI European Security Advisory Group. He will be joined by Professor Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Professor of War Studies, Loughborough University, Pia Hansson, Director of the Institute of International Affairs, University of Iceland and Tomas Jermalavicius, Head of Studies, International Centre for Defence and Security.


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