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Research at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) has revealed geopolitical trends and knowledge gaps in polar governance, leading to enhanced policy planning on the Polar Regions and greater understanding and representation of the Polar Regions in the heritage sector, education, and media.



The research addresses key knowledge gaps in polar governance including uncertainties over the scale and pace of climate change, strategic intentions of third parties, trade and resource opportunities for the UK, and opportunities for polar science diplomacy.



The research focused on the drivers of change affecting the Polar Regions using interviews with policy-makers and civil servants, high level participation in ‘closed events’, ethnography in the Arctic, and professional engagement with the UK and international stakeholders.

The research brought together researchers from around the world working on polar geopolitics and Asian polar geopolitics. The multidisciplinary approach revealed gaps in knowledge about indigenous communities and presented opportunities to build networks with polar actors.



The findings have been used by Parliament, specialist bodies, and the UK government. Professor Klaus Dodds was appointed as a specialist advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee and to the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee’s Arctic enquiry in 2019. These roles also led Dodds to advise the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Ministry of Defence on polar matters.

Through this advisory work, Dodds recommended that co-ordination and collaboration with Arctic partnerships should be improved through a new Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Arctic Office.

The research has contributed to the reformation of the UK policy conversation regarding polar geopolitics through formal recognition that the social sciences have an important role in complementing natural sciences within UK polar policy discussions.

The research has informed major exhibitions, for example ‘Lines in the Ice’ exhibition at the British library and the Polar Worlds gallery of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

The research has informed education on the polar regions. Global governance is now a core topic in the A Level Geography curriculum and a host of  new teaching materials on polar geopolitics and the global commons have been created.  


More information

Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London

Researcher: Professor Klaus Dodds

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Advancing polar geopolitics in foreign and defence policy, school education and public understanding. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>