Global Change and Arctic Sustainable Transformations (GloCAST)

Painted Wooden Fisherman's Houses in Qeqertasuaq village in Disko bay, Greenland. (c) Fernando Moleres/laifPainted Wooden Fisherman's Houses in Qeqertasuaq village in Disko bay, Greenland. (c) Fernando Moleres/laif

Global change processes such as climate change can dramatically alter local contexts. The transformation of the Arctic is one striking example. The melting of the Arctic ice cap is opening up access to untapped deposits of raw materials and creating new trade routes. Neighbouring states, export countries, shipping companies, and primary processing industries are observing this development with growing interest. At the same time, these changes are presenting the environment and human cultures with new and alarming challenges that we are ill-prepared to address. 

Identifying interdependencies between change processes

The research project “Global Change and Arctic Sustainable Transformations” (GloCAST) studies interactions between global change processes and local developments in the Arctic. The scope of this research extends to the role of actors from beyond the region, with a particular focus on the European Union and Russia. To what extent are local and foreign actors aware of the risks arising from the transformation of the Arctic region? What narratives of sustainable development guide their policymaking efforts?

Negotiating governance roles in the Arctic

The project seeks both to clarify the responsibilities, obligations and rights of these actors and to enhance their ability to shape transformations towards sustainability in the Arctic region. These research activities will also support the development of governance instruments with the capacity to establish higher sustainability standards for extractive industries in the Arctic. The Arctic Council and its Working Group on Sustainable Development, which includes researchers from the GloCAST team, will play a central role in this effort. Work in this area intersects with other research activities at the IASS, including the “Ocean Governance” project, for example.

Think global, act local

Working closely with actors and stakeholders from within and beyond the Arctic region, researchers will develop and implement scenarios to facilitate the development of governance and decision-making processes that meet the needs of diverse parties. Scenario development workshops will be conducted in cooperation with stakeholders as a part of this process. The findings of this project will be published in scientific articles and conference papers, and in publications for the general public.


01/2017 to 12/2020

Project partners:

  • Foresight Intelligence
  • Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO)
  • University of Potsdam
  • Arctic Council
  • Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)


Global-regional transformation processes, resources, transformation, risk, narratives, scenarios


Scientific Project Leader: Dr Kathrin Stephen

Research Associates: Marianne Pascale Bartels (doctoral candidate), Vilena Valeeva (doctoral candidate in the project “Blue-Action: Arctic Impact on Weather and Climate”, funded through the EU Horizon 2020 Programme)

Supervising Directors: Prof. Mark Lawrence, Prof. Patrizia Nanz

Team Assistant: Tanja Baines