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To understand the current state of Arctic affairs, it is of the utmost importance to outline the set of pre-conditions, challenges and tendencies that influence contemporary and future issues in the region.

Megatrends is about the development processes that will have major impact on the future of Arctic societies in a mid- to long term time-span. Predicting more specific details regarding the future is very difficult. The experiences in connection with the most recent international financial crisis clearly illustrate this, and it is quite evident in a region like the Arctic where rapid changes both in relation to environment, society and culture have been experienced during the last century. But by combining more general development trends with as well expected as perceived major events that may influence the development paradigm, it is possible to identify and outline more general trends which can be determined with varying degrees of confidence.

The project has a focus on some of the most important areas that shape the major trends in the Arctic and in so doing relying on existing scholarship, documents, reports and other official materials. The forecast of major mega-trends is related to the de facto developments which are already in place or may come to the fore in the near future. In addition, however, the impact of unforeseen global processes or unexpected developments is also taken into consideration. Thus, major trends in Arctic development have to be seen through the prism of Arctic particularities where the Arctic is seen as a distinct region in global, regional, national and local politics. Arctic diversity and the specifics of the High Arctic environment compared to that of the southern parts of Arctic states should be considered.

We have identified the following nine megatrends:

  • Increased urbanization - a global trend also including the Arctic.
  • Demographic challenges – the old stay while the young leaves.
  • Continued dependency on transfers and the exploitation of natural resources will dominate the Arctic economies.
  • Continued pollution and climatic changes will change the nature and environment of the Arctic.
  • The Arctic needs investing in more people for Human Capital.
  • Changes in interaction between the public and private spheres will impact development.
  • Renewable energy will contribute to a "greening" of the economy.
  • Increased accessibility provide opportunities as well as new risks.
  • The Arctic as a new player in the global game.