The Swedish Chairmanship: Foresight and Hindsight in Arctic Activism

  • Niklas EklundEmail author
Part of the Springer Polar Sciences book series (SPPS)


The Swedish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council 2011–2013 still holds many of the keys in understanding Sweden’s overall stance in Arctic affairs. When Sweden took the chair in early 2011, many Observers were skeptical of its likely impact on the region not only because the organization and its role in circumpolar economic and social development were contested at the time. There were also misgivings about Sweden’s role as a “reluctant” Arctic nation. Sweden, nevertheless, contributed during its term as Chair of the Arctic Council to significant organizational revitalization and moving its Arctic agenda on soft security concerns forward. The chapter revisits the leadership goals, strategies, roles and achievements of the Swedish Chairmanship. These are then compared and contrasted with subsequent Swedish activity within the Council. The potential for a Swedish return to an active leadership role in the Arctic is then considered against the background of a changing international setting and increased policy relevance of the Arctic to Sweden.


Swedish chairmanship Strategy Diplomacy Honest broker Administrative dualism Globalization 


  1. Bengtsson, R., Elgström, O., & Tallberg, J. (2004). Silencer or amplifier? The European union presidency and the Nordic countries. Scandinavian Political Studies, 3(27), 311–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bjereld, U. (2007). Utrikespolitisk opinion i Sverige. In D. Brommesson & A. -M. Ekengren (Eds.), Sverige i världen. Malmö: Gleerups.Google Scholar
  3. Brommesson, D., & Ekengren, A. -M. (2007). Sverige i världen—idag och imorgon. In D. Brommesson & A. -M. Ekengren (Eds.), Sverige i världen. Malmö: Gleerups.Google Scholar
  4. Burns, J. M. (2003). Transforming leadership. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dodds, K., & Nutall, M. (2016). The scramble for the poles. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  6. Doel, R., Friedman, R., Lajus, J., Sörlin, S., & Wråkberg, U. (2014). Strategic Arctic science: National interests in building natural knowledge—interwar era through the cold war. Journal of Historical Geography, 44, 60–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eklund, N., & van der Watt, L.-M. (2017). Refracting (geo) political choices in the Arctic. The Polar Journal, 7(1), 86–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ekos Research Associates. (2012). Rethinking the top of the world—circumpolar edition: Sweden. Toronto: Munk School of Global Affairs.Google Scholar
  9. Elenius, L., et al. (Eds.). (2015). The Barents region. A transnational history of subarctic Northern Europe. Oslo: Pax Forlag.Google Scholar
  10. Government Offices of Sweden. (2011). Sweden’s strategy for the Arctic Region. Stockholm: Ministry for Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  11. Granholm, N. (2012). The new Arctic and the North Atlantic—strategic significance for Sweden? In B. Hugemark (Ed.), Friends in need. Towards a Swedish strategy of solidarity with her neighbours. Stockholm: The Royal Academy of War Sciences.Google Scholar
  12. Heifetz, R., Grashow, A., & Linsky, M. (2009). The practice of adaptive leadership. In Tools and tactics for changing your organization and the world. Boston: Harvard Business Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hollway, W., & Jefferson, T. (2000). Doing qualitative research differently. Free association, narrative and the interview method. London: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jacobsson, B., Pierre, J., & Sundström, G. (2015). Governing the embedded state. The organizational dimension of governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Keskitalo, C. (2014). Sweden and Arctic policy. In R. Murray & A. Dey Nutall (Eds.), International relations and the Arctic. Understanding policy and governance. Amherst: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kraska, J. (Ed.). (2011). Arctic security in the age of climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Ministry of the Environment and Energy. (2016). “New Swedish environmental policy for the Arctic”. Memorandum downloaded from
  18. Nord, D. (2016). The changing Arctic. Creating a framework for consensus building and governance within the Arctic Council. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  19. Nye, J. (2008). The powers to lead. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Sakwa, R. (2013). The cold peace: Russo-Western relations as a mimetic cold war. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 26(1), 203–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sköld, P. (2016). Perpetual adaptation? Challenges for the Sami and Reindeer husbandry in Sweden. In B. Evengård, J. N. Larsen, & Ø. Paasche (Eds.), The new Arctic. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Sörlin, S. (2016). Science, geopolitics and culture in the Polar region: Norden beyond borders. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Staalesen, A. (2016). An Arctic strategy for Northern Sweden. Barents observer, November 7, downloaded from
  24. Swedish National Audit Office (Riksrevisionen). (2013). Report RIR 2013:9 “Sverige i Arktiska rådet—effektivt utbyte av medlemskapet?Google Scholar
  25. Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. (2011). Sweden’s chairmanship program for the Arctic Council, downloaded from
  26. Tallberg, J. (2004). The power of the presidency: Brokerage, efficiency and distribution in EU negotiations. JCMS, 42(5), 999–1022.Google Scholar
  27. Tallberg, J. (2010). The power of the chair: Formal leadership in international cooperation. International Studies Quarterly, 54(1), 241–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Umeå UniversityUmeåSweden

Personalised recommendations