Yamal on the edge: Arctic Environmental Governance in times of accelerated industrial development

French, Nadia (2023). Yamal on the edge: Arctic Environmental Governance in times of accelerated industrial development. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The changing landscape and economic relevance of the Arctic present a unique opportunity to monitor the change in interactions between people and the arctic nature as well as to shed light onto the top-down translation of the existing at different scales environmental governance regimes.
The Russian Arctic Zone occupies over a third of the total area of the Arctic, yet no Arctic-specific legislation or environmental protection authority exists to oversee the so-called ‘resource base’ of the Russian state. The growing competition for the influence in the Russian Arctic zone of various actors (international Arctic fora, foreign investors and suppliers, hydrocarbon companies, government institutions) already brings issues of ecological impact to the fore, render them visible, and provide space for renegotiating institutional, normative and other conditions. Yet, little is known about how these developments reflect on environmental governance or socioecological relations in the remote corners of the Russian Arctic affected by the new lap of industrialisation. The insight into environmental governance in the Russian Arctic with a case study of the area of Russia’s flagman mega-project on Yamal peninsula, translated from Nenets as the ‘edge of the land’, may reveal the emerging mechanisms for environmental protection as well as ungovernable spaces in the ecologically and socioeconomically challenged area of the Far North.
The work done within the framework of Lefebvre’s spatial trialectics superimposed onto the Russian Arctic attempted to understand and map the structure, scope and utility of environmental governance in the region and through socioecological lens to explore ground-scale interactions between human and non-human actants (individual and community-based behaviour that can impact the environment especially if

multiplied) in a case study conducted in Mys Kamenny, Yamal district, Russia in 2017. Yamal peninsula is an area of rapid socioeconomic development undergoing noticeable climatic and geomorphological shifts. Individual and community level relationship with the environment especially of non-indigenous descent is often overlooked in assessments of environmental integrity, yet it holds clues to the feedback loops between climate change, development and society.
The study found that using fieldwork-based research to analyse socioecological dynamics along with deep understanding of the Russian political, institutional and cultural context feeding into environmental governance of the Russian Arctic, can help better understand not only local but also generic governance issues of the present day Arctic and draw insights from a close-up view to the environmental governance on a larger scale. The insight from Yamal peninsula largely demonstrated how informal practices of non-indigenous locals and corporations tend to ‘fill gaps’ left by incomplete governance frameworks and capacities, while the outcome of such practices is ambivalent, it reflects that the Arctic industrialisation is predicated on the good will of actors to minimise the inevitable environmental impact.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/13503


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