From the High North to the Roof of the World: Arctic Precedents for Third Pole Governance

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
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  • 1 Flinders Law School

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This article analyses the potential to apply legal and policy instruments from the ‘First Pole’, (the Arctic), to the ‘Third Pole,’ (the Himalayas/Tibetan Plateau) – the Antarctic is the ‘Second Pole.’ The Third Pole shares many environmental challenges with the Arctic: territorially both are comprised of nation states with domestic agendas; the issues of climate change, development and energy security are also common to both, and have transboundary dimensions. While acknowledging the contextual differences between Arctic states in the North and those with territory in the highest part of Asia (and the world), the growing relationship between them, institutions which regulate their affairs, and these shared challenges suggest there is opportunity to develop Third Pole environmental governance. The article reviews Arctic Council arrangements, focusing upon the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, and South Asia Cooperative Environment Program as reform platforms. It finds potential exists if political will is forthcoming, particularly on the part of China and India.

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