Cooperation among Stakeholders for a Preventative and Responsive Maritime Disaster System: The Mitigation of an Arctic Wicked Problem
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In a marine region once relatively remote, the melting Arctic ice cap creates opportunities for many in the international marine community. Shipping companies now have much shorter, more commercially viable sea routes between Europe and Asia for one to two summer months a year. Resources, such as oil, may now be easier to extract, and it is reported that the reserves under the Arctic polar cap are vast. Further, tourism to the region has increased. With the escalation of maritime traffic associated with these activities, there is also an increased risk of marine or maritime mishaps and disasters; hence, the need for an effective maritime plan for prevention and post mishap response. The impact of pollution and environmental catastrophes are heightened because of the fragile Arctic marine environment. In events such as an oil spill, the cleanup efforts may be more complex due to harsh, unpredictable weather conditions, varying stakeholders, differing political systems from the border countries and the accountability of who bears the cost. Further, the difficulty and complexity in accessing the region may result in increased pollution and loss of life in a maritime mishap/disaster. This complexity of interdependencies of stakeholders, environmental conditions, social/cultural/political concerns, and economics risk is known as a “wicked problem” which means planning for Arctic disaster is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. This type of disaster can have dramatic negative consequences on marine ecosystems, indigenous people and their cultures, and involved organizations and governments operating in the Arctic. While law and policy have been put into place to promote unity and risk awareness, enforcing regulations governing the Arctic states has been an issue. How can collaboration to protect against and respond to marine and maritime mishaps/disasters be encouraged to become the norm among the various Arctic stakeholders in a complex “wicked problem” scenario? A model of cooperation among involved Arctic stakeholders is proposed as the most effective mechanism for an appropriate plan for prevention and response. Cooperation will not only increase effectiveness, but increases the speed of response. Two theory streams of cooperation are integrated into the model: Axelrod’s Art of Cooperation theory; and the Theory of Strategic Alliances. The proposed model addresses the conditions and incentives for cooperation and the handling of “free rider” potential. The model includes all stakeholders including but not limited to the eight Arctic states, nongovernmental organizations such as indigenous culture councils and environmental groups, and commercial enterprises. Stakeholders face a “prisoner’s dilemma” from the wicked problem scenario in the Arctic which contributes to the need for incentives for cooperation among stakeholders to prevent mishaps and disasters in the region. Further, potential solutions for collaboration to avoid negative outcomes in the Arctic are proposed.
Ghoram, Lawrence Clifton (2015). Cooperation among Stakeholders for a Preventative and Responsive Maritime Disaster System: The Mitigation of an Arctic Wicked Problem. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from