Natural areas and resources form the basis for many regional economies in the Arctic. Natural conditions, including climate, have been considered stable on human timescales and taken as starting points in regional development work – until recently. During the past few years the notion of a changing climate with various ecological and socio-economic impacts has made its way also to regional development strategies. Despite the common perception of climate change as completely devastating for the whole Arctic, the effects can be regionally differentiated.
This article discusses regional development related strategic planning as a forum and tool for addressing climate change. This is carried out by empirically examining the emergence of climate change as an important trend or factor in the development programmes of one region in the Arctic, Finnish Lapland, mid-1990s onwards. The review sets a background for the ways how climate change is thought to affect Lapland’s economy and society in the future, as presented in the region’s recently published Climate Change Strategy 2030. Climate change, nowadays regarded as an important trend affecting the region’s future, is expected to bring along new opportunities for Lapland and change the strategic position of the region to a more favourable one also in wider political and economic sense.
Regional development related strategic planning can, in some politicoadministrational cultures such as in Finland, serve well as a context for climate change adaptation, but the task to promote regional development can lead to less emphasis on global environmental concern and more on ensuring the auspicious development in the region.