Today there is an unprecedented global as well as local interest in the Arctic. Climate change, rising political activity among Arctic residents including native groups, new prospecting and exploitation technologies and projects, and linked global policy processes are some of the many reasons for this. However, while great attention is put on the coastal and maritime High Arctic, other areas that have more recently been included in Arctic political processes have been less emphasised.
Mistra Arctic Sustainable Development (Mistra Arctic) places the focus on one the European Arctic mainland, defined as the northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland. The main theme of this programme is governance. Land use and industry in the European Arctic mainland have been studied in the past and in the present, as well as the framework for future governance of the region. Seven different economic or municipal sectors have been in focus, namely mining, forestry, oil and gas exploration, fishing, reindeer husbandry, tourism industry and municipal planning. These sectors and the interaction between them has been studied in four main study areas: (1) Malmfälten in Norrbotten, Sweden, encompassing municipalities Kiruna, Gällivare and Pajala, (2) the Skellefteå area in Västerbotten, Sweden, with the focal municipality of Storuman, (3) Kolari in Lapland county in Finland, and (4) Sörvaranger in Finnmark county, Norway. To some extent comparisons have also been made with cases in Svalbard, Norway, and the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblasts in north-west Russia. Results from these case studies are expected to increase the understanding of how historical development as well as present governance on different levels both steer and constrain possibilities for improved resource use governance and planning. By providing a nuanced picture of local and subnational as well as larger governance challenges in the European Arctic mainland, the programme ultimately aims to support the capacity of decision makers to make informed decisions related to sustainable development in the area.