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The Future of Arctic Security – policy simulation workshop

The Centre for Systems Solutions designed and facilitated a simulation at the Helsinki stop of the CASCADES 2023 Roadshow, organised by the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) and the Finnish Institute of International Relations (FIIA).

Blog Post

Published on 21 June 2023

Author(s): Katarzyna Szewczyk, Piotr Magnuszewski, with contributions from the event organising committee

The Arctic Security Simulation was tailor-made to fit the event Policy implications of Arctic cross-border climate change impacts.

Its main assumptions were based on the groundwork of the Finnish Environment Institute.

A major theme of the seminar was building trust and cooperation in the face of an uncertain future in the Arctic region. To successfully navigate the complex net of relations and overcome existing ambiguities, a comprehensive approach is needed – bringing scientists, policymakers, and society together, and moving beyond expert one-way transmissions.

Policy simulations allow experts and practitioners coming from different backgrounds and holding different worldviews to enter into a creative dialogue about their desired futures. These immersive and interactive experiences aim to bridge the gap between science and society – and create a safe environment for meaningfully addressing the challenges of complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity.

The event opened with a series of expert presentations and Q&A sessions that showcased the varied relations between the cross-border impacts of climate change, and the emerging security dimensions in the Arctic region.

Building on these discussions, the Arctic Security Simulation workshop invited participants to explore the plausible realities of the Arctic region in 2041. With the help of multimedia materials – including videos, prospects, infographics, and maps – they assumed various roles in the European Arctic Regional Task Force, and negotiated policies to mitigate security risks and cascading climate impacts plaguing the far north in the near future.

Afterwards, participants attended a debriefing session followed by an expert panel, wherein they could discuss the simulation tool and bridge the gap between simulated futures and current policymaking.

Visual from multimedia simulation materials. Source: authors

The simulation was conceived as a learning experience where stakeholders explore plausible, evidence-based scenarios, and are given novel tools to confront natural-human systems complexities. The event gathered highly engaged specialists – decision makers, advisors, researchers and activists. This created a great opportunity for discussions & explorations of the broad dimensions of climate change impacts on the region.

An insightful takeaway from after-session discussions was the importance of trust building in societal, business and environmental decision making. Participants underlined the value of both international collaboration and local involvement in securing stable and sustainable development of the Arctic region. The meeting showcased both the complexity of future Arctic choices – as well as the variety of potential opportunities.

Simulation Workshop presentation. Source: authors

The Arctic Security Simulation was prepared using the CASCADES conceptual framework, an innovative tool for describing and analysing cross-border climate impacts, and incorporated materials from the Arctic Future Simulation. You can explore the simulation multimedia materials here.

Other policy simulations in the project addressed topics such as disruptions in trade and supply chains, increased demand for rare earth minerals for clean energy transition, or balancing nutritional needs with environmental conservation. Such a wide range of themes showcases that policy simulations are an effective science communication tool for varied groups of stakeholders.