Decreasing sea ice and the thawing of permafrost is altering transport opportunities in the Arctic. At sea, climate change is allowing for longer shipping seasons and new navigation routes. On land, however, there are negative implications for access to remote communities and inland industry. Thawing conditions may severely limit and/or shorten the periods of access through ice roads during winter.
Industry and transport are mainly linked through accessibility. The increased availability of offshore resources and the establishment of new tourist destinations due to the opening of the Arctic Ocean offer increased commercial opportunities on the coast. But inland industrial activities such as mining and indigenous settlements are likely to face decreasing supply alternatives and possibilities of relocation.
These new transport opportunities in the Arctic will have strong implications for the environment. The physical impact on landscapes from extractive industries (e.g. pipelines causing land fragmentation) and the risk of pollution (e.g. through oil spills) make it important to start addressing these challenges by ensuring a more holistic way of harmonizing transport regimes.
There is a strong need to communicate best practices and standards for transport and industrial activities as well as empowering people through the implementation of prevention and mitigation processes, in order to ensure a sustainable development of the region which directly benefits the inhabitants of the Arctic.