Climate Change Project

Research project title “The Capability of International Governance Systems in the Arctic to Contribute to the mitigation of Climate Change and Adjust to its Consequences” (CIGSAC)

The CIGSAC aims to examine the role of international governance mechanisms (or regimes) and international actors active in the Arctic in climate change policy. This is a very unique perspective as the climate change policy is mainly driven by global and national levels, with coping issues many times addressed also in community level. The need for this research project was shown by the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), a huge international research project that confirmed what had already been indicated by the Inter-governmental panel on climate change 2001 report: the climate change has impacted the Arctic already from the 1970’s and the region will experience the most dramatic consequences from climate change.

The main questions of the research project are:

  1. Which international governance mechanisms (e.g. the Arctic Council) and international actors (e.g. the Inuit Circumpolar Conference) have a climate change policy that is relevant from the Arctic perspective?
  2. What kind of policy measures these governance mechanisms and actors have taken to mitigate climate change, and adjust to its consequences?
  3. How do these international governance mechanisms operate with the present multi-level structure of governance in the Arctic?
  4. By what standards it would be possible to evaluate the resilience/effectiveness of these international level governance mechanisms and actors to change? In particular, by what parameters we could evaluate the performance of these international governance mechanisms and actors in climate change mitigation/adaptation?
  5. What kind of recommendations the research project could provide to the Arctic international governance mechanisms and actors in order for them to conduct better climate policy?    

The CIGSAC is an inter-disciplinary research project with the expertise from two fields of science that have as their focus the international level, i.e., international law and international relations.

Programme for the CIGSAC Final seminar , 9th – 10th of January 2008, Rovaniemi, Finland


The history of the CIGSAC can be traced to two important previous research projects in the Institute. In 2002, the NIEM got funding to the research project “International Environmental Law in the Arctic; with Special Reference to Arctic indigenous Peoples”, a project that has significantly enhanced the understanding of functioning of Arctic international regimes, especially from the perspective of indigenous peoples. In June 2004, the NIEM commenced a research project “Climate Change in the Arctic; the Role of Law” as part of the co-operation in Nordic Research Network for Sami and Environmental Law (NORSEL). In this research project – which organised a launching meeting and was the prime emphasis of the third annual seminar of the NORSEL - the basis for the CIGSAC was created.

The Finnish Academy decided on 11 November 2005 to fund the CIGSAC (Decision No. 110564), a proof that the project was viable as the Academy funding is very hard to obtain. The project got funding for over three years (2006-2008). An expression of interest was also submitted on 30 January 2006 to gain the CIGSAC a status of a project under the International Polar Year (2007-2008).