During the Cold War, the border between Norway and the Soviet Union was almost completely closed and there were few diplomatic relations between the Arctic regions of northern Europe and the Soviet Union. Within weeks of the end of the Soviet Union, however, the Norwegian government began negotiations over regional cooperation which led to what is now the Barents Euro-Arctic Cooperation.
This article argues that one of the significant incentives which led to the formation of the Barents region at the time that the Soviet Union collapsed was the common environmental threats faced by each of the Arctic nations of Europe and northwest Russia. This article considers the sources of the environmental challenges and the work that has been undertaken to tackle those shared threats. It also considers the region building that has taken place as a result of the cooperation which, although it began as a means of solving the environmental threats but has now spread much further with cohesion and cooperation in many other policy areas. The article concludes with a discussion of how this model could be used as a means of encouraging regional cooperation in other parts of the world, particularly in areas where there is a history of conflict or where there are shared environmental concerns.