A strategic roadmap to a decentralised Arctic future

Territorial Strategy / Speculative Design

Developed at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design

With Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva and Ildar Iakubov.

Apr-Jul 2017

Starting from the introduction of a new location-based cryptocurrency – whose value increases with the latitude at which it is used – SEVER imagines an Arctic-wide territorial development strategy revolving around a decentralised economy and governance.

Scientists are unanimous: climate change in the Arctic is irreversible, and the melting of the polar ice cap is now unstoppable. Perhaps the most vivid manifestation of the Anthropocene, this rapid and disruptive transformation is giving birth to a new ocean, across which the globe could be thoroughly rewired. The prospect of an open Arctic draws competing interests to the region: geopolitical tensions are on the rise, while the risk of an environmental disaster lures over the horizon. Opposing this new wave of quiet colonisation, numerous NGOs and rights groups demand that the Arctic be regarded as a sanctuary, and as such be left untouched. Yet, given the scale of change that an open Arctic ocean would bring to the world’s balance of power, such an argument is all too easily dismissed by key geopolitical players and stakeholders; as such, it is ultimately ineffective.

SEVER emerges as a tool to bring about desirable and sustainable Arctic future(s). Its location-sensitive protocol is designed to foster exchange and cooperation across a networked Arctic economy, and to have a positive geo-engineering impact on the regional ecosystem. As a scalable, blockchain-based infrastructure for decentralised exchanges and governance, SEVER would lay the ground for the development of an alternative model of globalisation, first trialled in the new Arctic frontier.

Specifically, the project explores the urban consequences of this alternative model of Arctic development through the case study of Murmansk, in the Russian Federation.