The urgency of applying effective legal strategies to respond to environmental change in the Arctic is ever more apparent. The existing framework for environmental governance has matured and its constituents are numerous, and many are promising. However, policymakers and other stakeholders contend that new approaches to confronting environmental conditions, including mitigation of climate change and adapting to it, are needed. Many ideas have been offered; they range considerably in their assessment of what changes are needed and by when. Here we briefly describe the cluster of constituents of environmental governance, the international environmental regime, of the Arctic; we briefly note newly recommended approaches; and we analyse two approaches we consider most promising. These, cooperative scientific-based management strategies and adversarial legal actions, are dissimilar – to the point that some policy makers consider them incompatible. We argue, however, that both are needed and we describe elements of their successful use.