World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund’s Sweden headquarters is in a beautiful palace that they rent from the King of Sweden.

We met Dr. Tom Arnbom at the metro stop and walked through the Ulriksdal Park. Which was named for one of the Princes of Sweden a long time ago, the palaces on the property were bought for Prince Ulrik, which means “wolf”, and kept in the royal family even though the Prince died at only one year old. We learned that Professor English knows a lot about leaves and makes award-winning maple syrup! Part of the Baltic Sea borders the park and in the winter more than 10 miles of it freezes over. The ice is so thick that you can drive a car on it, according to Tom. He also said that people ice skate there, because they can go for such a long time.

The right wing of the palace and another building  are rented to World Wildlife Fund. We sat in a large conference room in the other building and spoke with Tom. He was really knowledgeable about all our topics and gave us great information. After his lecture, the groups were able to ask questions about our specific project areas, and gather more information from the WWF’s point of view.

After the presentation, we took tons of pictures, as the backdrop was so beautiful and the sunshine was hard to pass up. In this photo, Kelsey, Jason, Nick, and Tim are in front of the palace, with the Swedish flag at the very top.

When we left WWF, we met up with Paul, a USC Master’s and Ph.D alum who now teaches at the Stockholm University. We found him wearing an Oxford sweatshirt and have decided to send him more USC gear after we get back!

As a group we headed to the Vasa Museum, which is a giant Swedish ship that sunk and was raised and reconstructed. Below is a picture of Reid and Jenny in front of the bow of the Vasa.

We were all shocked at the time and effort that went into raising the ship from the ocean floor and retouching the artwork and carvings that were on board. We had lunch at the museum and got to look out over the water at all the boats while we ate.

First Day in Stockholm

By 6 o’clock of Sunday the 20th of May, all 18 students plus two professors had made it to the Castanea Hostel in the Gamla Stan neighborhood of Stockholm. After a debriefing, we enjoyed an Italian dinner on the banks of Stockholm’s Riddarfjärden river.

    The next morning started early with a visit to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Located in the Solna suburb of Stockholm, SIPRI is nestled in a hilly neighborhood overlooking Stockholm. As opposed to such think tanks in the U.S., SIPRI’s building is not built to impress and could very well be a large family home. Its cozy interior and informality stand in opposition to the critical issues they study. Focusing on conflict, armaments, arms control, and disarmament, SIPRI studies opportunities for stable peace in the international system. The think tank received a three-year grant from the Swedish Foreign Ministry to study Arctic issues, prompted by Sweden beginning its term as chair of the Arctic Council. As a result, they have a comprehensive team working full time on exploring the countless facets of Arctic conflict and cooperation.

After being introduced by Neil Melvin, the head of the group, we heard from Siemon Wezeman, who recently published a report called Military Capabilities in the Arctic, and covering that matter. The report, which we’d familiarized ourselves with in advance of the visit, covered both the current capacities and future plans of the five littoral Arctic states. However, the research led to the conclusion that, despite media stating otherwise, there is no serious build up of Arctic militaries. As this is not a growing problem, there is little chance for significant inter-state, armed conflict in the Arctic region. He called for attention towards and coordination in the realm of civilian issues, such as Coast Guard search and rescue. Though conventional war is unlikely, he did emphasize that with increased maritime traffic in the Arctic Ocean there is the possibility for accidents that could lead to diplomatic scraps, much as was seen in the recent China-Korea skirmishes.

Next, Kristopher Bergh talked to the group about the formation of US and Canadian Arctic policy. He emphasized the international relations concept of “two-level games,” where leaders of states are forced into simultaneous negotiations with both their citizens and foreign governments. Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, seems to be rallying his citizens around the idea of Arctic sovereignty while taking a more cooperative route in his second level negotiations. Though it seems uncharacteristic, the US is publicly calling for a more regional or global involvement and is generally excluding the issue from public discourse.

Ekaterina, Kyrgyzstan’s foremost expert on the Arctic, spoke specifically to Russia’s Arctic policy. Holding 95% of its future oil and gas reserves and 18% of its territory, the Arctic is incredibly important to Russia. There’s been a pivot towards a focus on Arctic issues in recent years as melting ice creates a more porous northern border and current Russian oil wells production is projected to decrease by 60% over the next four years. However, despite often bellicose rhetoric and increased attention, Russia has little to show. Their military capabilities have been severely hampered since the end of the Cold War; Russia’s technology is not advanced enough to successfully and safely capture Arctic resources; and political inefficiency and corruption lay out a significant roadblock to progress.