Governance of renewable natural resources in Northwest Russia

Contact person: Monica Tennberg                                    Start of the project: 2002
Research group: Sustainable development                       End of the project:  2007


The research project analyzes the challenges of renewable natural resource governance in Northwestern Russia from a multidisciplinary perspective by combining the expertise of the Universities of Lapland and Joensuu, various disciplines, and international research networks.

The central theoretical framework in this study is governance. The governance of natural resources is investigated at different scales and in terms of various actors, including the situation in local communities, business enterprises, as well as regional and central administration. Furthermore, the impacts of global processes, such as legal harmonization, and business and administrative cooperation, on Russian governance structures are included in the research setting, as well as a cross-border perspective: Russian socio-economic development has significant impacts on regions bordering that country, and vice versa. Due to its large amount of natural resources, Russia also has a considerable potential impact on global governance and the ways in which international natural resource and environmental policies are organized.

The main concept used for describing dynamics of governance is path-dependency. The research group sees that the evolutionary concept of path dependency can help us to understand the individual national, regional and local features of Russian transformation process.

The research project seeks to provide answers to the questions:

• In what ways are the existing governance practices path-dependent
• What ways are to be found for breaking away from undesired path-dependence in order to implement fresh institutional solutions for renewable natural resource governance?

The project explores natural resource governance in the context of two sectors of the Russian economy: forestry and fisheries. First, the forest industrial sector of the Russian economy has gone through considerable transformation during the past decade. These transformations can be especially well observed in northwest Russia where, along with East Siberia, a major part of the Russian forest industry is located.

Secondly, the project investigates the governance of fish stocks in the Barents Sea. Fish production in northwest Russia has national importance in terms of food supply, as well as economically: most of the fish produced in the Russian Barents Sea Region are exported. Regional fishery organizations have dominated harvesting for decades until 2000 when the federal government introduced fish auctions trying to gain a more substantial share of the profit from the fisheries. Legislation on fishery activities is still developing.

In order to answer these questions, the research project is organized into four closely linked and intertwined research themes. It is the interaction, cooperation, competition, contradiction and struggle between the institutions and actors explored in the themes below that produce the varying patterns of natural resource governance in today’s Russia. Therefore, natural resource governance has to be explored from these various perspectives which, in turn, have to be compared and brought together using the concept of path-dependency. Thus a multidisciplinary approach truly contributes to the understanding of the processes guiding the utilization and conservation of Russia’s natural resources.

Key participants

Soili Nystén Haarala
Juha Kotilainen (Department of Geography, University of Joensuu)
Carina Keskitalo
Monica Tennberg (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland)
Anna-Maija Matilainen
Maija Pappila
Stefan Walter (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland)

More information

Research Professor Monica Tennberg
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland