2013 Conference


Planning for 2050: North American Policy for the Future of the Arctic

at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

2013 Conference Poster

The 2013 conference was held in Michigan and was framed around the theme of Arctic Sovereignty.

The Arctic is in retreat. Rising temperatures and receding ice will create new challenges, and new opportunities, for countries with a stake in the territory. Governments laying claim to the Arctic see a boon in the melting ice: the region is believed to be stocked with minerals such as palladium and zinc, as well as an estimated 30% of undiscovered natural gas and 13% of undiscovered oil reserves. The quest for these resources may endanger some of the largest untouched ecosystems left on the planet, threatening natural habitats and the Native populations who depend on the Arctic for their livelihood.

But these changes are also creating opportunities for international trade and shipping; melting ice will grant passage through previously inaccessible shipping lanes, trimming the shipping distance between Europe and Asia by more than a third. Under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (CLOS), Arctic countries are scrambling to redraw their national borders, giving new relevance to lingering territorial disputes.

Even with little sea ice, the Arctic will remain frigid, remote, turbulent and expensive to navigate—but the time to plan is now.  During the fourth annual US-Canada Conference, students tackled the issues of the Arctic in a policy-driven case competition and simulated negotiation format to develop innovative policy recommendations and address natural resource extraction, international trade, the environment, and national security.


  • Henry Pollack, distinguished scientist and Nobel Laureate
  • Tom Clynes, author and photojournalist.


  • Check out this article written about the conference.
  • See pictures from the day here!
  • For the first time, students also participated in a pre-conference event on both campuses, which allowed students time to dig deeper into the issues and practice pulling together a compelling presentation in a limited amount of time.

Have a look at some of the insights students at the 2013 Conference had to offer: