The Arctic warming four times faster than the global average and increased accessibility of the previously frozen ocean is leading to a projected dramatic increase in activity, including shipping. The impacts of climate change, the vast distances involved with Arctic incident response times, the unpredictability of weather conditions, severe ecosystem upheaval, and significant infrastructure limitations combine to increase risks to the Arctic environment and its people.  

The Bering Strait region is a particularly unique area - one of the Arctic's most productive and sensitive environments but also a region increasingly facing pressure and challenges. Amidst an upheaval in relations between Russia and the other Arctic states exist transboundary risks associated with increased vessel activity, which continue to advance despite these deteriorated conditions.  

Please join the Harvard Kennedy School's Arctic Initiative, the Wilson Center's Polar Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund for a virtual workshop on transboundary risk management in the Bering Strait region.

Opening Remarks and Panel 1: "The Lay of the Land"

Panel 2: "Operator and Policy Reflections"

Panel 3: "Discussion, Recommendations, and Path Forward" and Closing Remarks

12:30 PM - Welcome Remarks by Brittany Janis, Harvard Kennedy School

12:35 PM - Opening Remarks by Captain Stephen White, Marine Exchange

12:50-2:10 PM - Panel 1: The Lay of the Land

  • Presenters:
    • Inga Banshchikova, WWF
    • Andrey Todorov, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Discussants:
    • Lawson Brigham, University of Alaska Fairbanks/Wilson Center
    • Michael Kingston, Michael Kingston Associates
  • Moderator: Becca Pincus, Wilson Center

2:10 PM - Break

  • Transitional Remarks by Marisol Maddox, Wilson Center

2:20 PM - Panel 2: Operator and Policy Reflections

  • Panelists:
    • Captain Leanne M. Lusk, United States Coast Guard
    • Leslie Canavera, PolArctic
    • Shannon Jenkins, United States Coast Guard
    • Matt Bell, Ted Stevens Center
    • Captain Steve White, Marine Exchange
  • Moderator: Mike Sfraga, U.S. Arctic Research Commission

3:20 PM - Discussion of Issues, Recommendations, and Path Forward 

  • Discussants:
    • Betsy Baker, Wilson Center
    • Andreas Osthagen, The Arctic Institute/Fridtjof Nansen Institute
    • Abbie Tingstad, RAND
  • Moderator: Douglas Causey, Harvard Kennedy School

4:20 PM - Closing Remarks by Michael Crispino, WWF

4:30 PM - Adjourn

Speakers are listed alphabetically by last name.

  • Betsy Baker

    "Betsy Baker"Betsy Baker is an Alaska-based international lawyer and Global Fellow at the Wilson Center Polar Institute. Her work on ocean law and Arctic policy as law professor, consultant, and director of an Alaska-based marine science organization includes projects for, e.g., the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Arctic Council PAME working group, and the U.S. Department of State Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs.  Her ongoing work with marine scientists, policymakers, and resource managers active in the polar areas focuses on the Law of the Sea, bilateral and international cooperation, and co-production of knowledge in the Arctic. She has served on science advisory panels for major transdisciplinary Arctic research programs in the EU, Finland, Japan, and the United States.  

  • Inga Banshchikova

    "Inga Banshchikova"Inga Banshchikova serves as a Policy Research Associate in the World Wildlife Fund US Arctic Program. Together with the WWF team, Inga is working to promote biodiverse and resilient Arctic, supporting WWF efforts to prioritize sustainability in Arctic shipping, energy, and economic development. Inga’s professional focus is on mitigation of the risks from industry activities, relying on western science with Indigenous knowledge in the US and internationally. Inga is engaged in the work with multiple international fora like UN, IMO, PAME, and Arctic Council’s working groups. Inga is a Fulbright scholar and holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and two master’s degrees in International Law and Public Policy.

  • Rear Admiral Matthew Bell

    "Matthew T. Bell"Former Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District, Juneau, AK, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Matthew T. Bell Jr. joined the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies as Dean On 25 April 2022. He is responsible for the executive education program designed with the end goals of protecting the U.S. homeland, maintaining a favorable balance of power in the region, and promoting a shared approach to regional security and respect for the existing rules-based order. His thirty-six year Coast Guard career includes numerous operational tours in Alaska, including two command afloat assignments in Kodiak and most recently as the Commander, 17th Coast Guard District in Juneau where he was responsible for Coast Guard operations throughout Alaska, the North Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. Mr. Bell is a 1984 graduate from Northern Arizona University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He entered the Coast Guard in 1985 through Recruit Training Center Cape May and received his commission in 1986 upon graduation from Officer Candidate School. He holds a Master of Science in Chemistry awarded by Northern Arizona University in 1993 and is a graduate of Harvard University, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative.

  • Lawson Brigham

    "Lawson Brigham"Lawson W. Brigham is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC and a research faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Currently a member of the National Academies Polar Research Board, Dr. Brigham is also a Fellow at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Center for Arctic Study & Policy and a member of the Academy’s Sailing Council. Captain Brigham was a career Coast Guard officer and commanded four cutters including the polar icebreaker Polar Sea on Arctic & Antarctic expeditions; he also served as the Coast Guard’s Chief of Strategic Planning, Director of the Work-Life Study, and Coast Guard Liaison Officer to the Chief of Naval Operations. During 2004-09 he was chair of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment and for two decades served on a team developing the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (IMO Polar Code). Dr. Brigham has been a Marine Policy Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a faculty member of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Naval Postgraduate School, and UAF as Distinguished Professor of Geography & Arctic Policy. He is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, a Naval War College distinguished graduate, and received his PhD from Cambridge University in the UK. His research interests have focused on the Russian maritime Arctic, Arctic marine safety & environmental protection, polar climate change, polar geopolitics, and strategic planning. Dr. Brigham is an elected member the Council on Foreign Relations and the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research. A central peak in the Gonville & Caius Range, Victoria Land, Antarctica was named Mount Brigham in January 2008 by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

  • Leslie Canavera

    "Leslie Canavera"Leslie Canavera is the CEO of PolArctic LLC, an oceanography and data science company focused on solving business challenges in the Arctic. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration on International Business, and is a veteran of the US Air Force where she served as a commissioned officer. From the USAF she transitioned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) for five years conceptualizing and initializing programs with complex geospatial components and analytics. She left NGA to found the technology start-up PolArctic LLC based on her experience and passion for the Arctic, and to bridge the gap between science and business requirements. Leslie is Yup’ik, Alaska Native, born and raised in Alaska. She was awarded the Women in Artificial Intelligence (WAI) North America Award for AI for good: Environmental Social Governance (ESG) for 2022, and was listed as a 2021 Forbes Next 1000 entrepreneur.

  • Douglas Causey

    "Douglas Causey"Douglas Causey is an Affiliate of the Belfer Center's Arctic Initiative, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Principal Investigator of the DHS Arctic Domain Awareness Center of Excellence. Previously, he was Senior Fellow of the Belfer Center and Senior Biologist at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. From 1995-2000, Doug represented the National Science Foundation (NSF) at organizational meetings leading to the formation of the Arctic Council and was NSF's Arctic Representative during the Gore-Chernomyrdin negotiations on US-Russian Science Policy.  

    An ecologist and evolutionary biologist by training, he has authored over two hundred publications on topics as diverse as the ecology of Arctic marine birds, high Arctic coastal systems, and bat-borne diseases. He has published extensively on policy issues related to the Arctic environment, Arctic environmental security, and bioterrorism and public health. His current environmental research examines the environmental correlates of climate change in the Arctic upon birds and mammals, its consequential impact on local and Indigenous people, and zoonotic disease. He and his students are actively conducting research in the Aleutian Islands, the northern Bering Sea, and Northwestern Greenland. His Greenlandic research efforts are funded by NSF and are components of the Piniariarneq and Pikialasorsuaq initiatives.

    His research with the Belfer Center focuses on the detailed examination of the nature of national and international security issues associated with the rapid environmental change in the Arctic. Two monographs on the dynamics of present and future consequences of climate change on Arctic and Polar international, social, and environmental security will be published in 2022.

  • Michael Crispino

    "Michael Crispino"Michael Crispino joined WWF-US in August 2016 and currently serves as senior director of strategy and communications and deputy lead for the oceans goal. He previously managed global ocean governance communications at The Pew Charitable Trusts, a portfolio that included biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, global tuna conservation and ending illegal fishing. Prior to joining Pew, Michael spent nearly five years as vice president of communications and outreach for the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), which WWF helped to launch in 2009. He began his professional career as a broadcast journalist reporting in communities across the US in Vermont, New York, Michigan, and Washington. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mass media communications from Plattsburgh State University of New York.

  • Brittany Janis

    "Brittany Janis"Brittany Janis is the Associate Director of the Arctic Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, where she helps lead the Arctic Initiative's research on advancing resilience in Arctic communities and developing policy solutions to combat plastic pollution in the Arctic Ocean. She graduated in May 2019 from the Harvard Kennedy School MC/MPA Program. She is a Co-Founder and the Community Development Director of Harvard Alumni for Climate and the Environment (HACE) Special Interest Group. While a student at HKS, Brittany worked as a Research Assistant for the Arctic Initiative, was a student member of the HKS Sustainability Leadership Council, and served as Program Director for the student-led Social Enterprise Conference.

    Before coming to Harvard, she spent her career working in strategic fund development and nonprofit management for a range of nonprofit organizations from New York to San Francisco. Most recently, she served as a Major Gift Officer at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). She’s a former President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Golden Gate Chapter. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and holds a M.A. in Philanthropy and Development from St. Mary's University of Minnesota. She received her B.A. in History, Political Science, and Theater from Case Western Reserve University.

  • Shannon Jenkins

    "Shannon Jenkins"Shannon Jenkins is the U.S. Coast Guard Senior Arctic Policy Advisor in Marine Transportation Systems Directorate (CG-5PW Arctic) and serves as head of the Arctic Policy Office at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters. His responsibilities include coordinating Arctic cross-directorate actions, harmonizing Coast Guard program office and field efforts, leading Arctic policy and strategy development, and tracking Arctic implementation-plan actions and progress. Shannon provides expert assistance on Arctic topics both internal and external to the Coast Guard and advances National interests and dialogue through public, private, and international forums. His mandate is to advance the Coast Guard’s Arctic strategy of ensuring safe, secure, and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the region.

    Prior to his role as Senior Arctic Policy Advisor, Shannon served as a Program Manager within the Coast Guard’s Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation Program. He managed the Arctic and the Environmental & Waterways research areas. His duties included identifying and prioritizing research needs, coordinating project execution and resource management, and addressing internal and external leadership queries. Shannon was also a member of the matrix team that developed the Coast Guard 2010 High Latitude Mission Analysis Report.

    Shannon Jenkins has 30+ years of Federal service, most of those with the Coast Guard. He earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mississippi State University and a Master’s degree in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School.

  • Captain Leanne Lusk

    "Leanne Lusk"Captain Leanne Lusk is currently serving as Commander, Sector Anchorage. She is responsible for marine safety, security, and environmental stewardship throughout Western Alaska, geographically the Service’s largest and northernmost Sector. She leads more than 600 active duty, civilian, reserve, and auxiliary personnel and exercises operational control of three 110’ Patrol Boats, a Small Boat Station, an Aids to Navigation Team, a Sector Field Office, a Marine Safety Unit, and three Marine Safety Detachments.

    Previous Operations Ashore assignments include Deputy Sector Commander at Sector Lake Michigan, Response Department Head at Sector Lake Michigan, Command Center Chief at Sector San Francisco, Command Duty Officer at the Coast Guard Pacific Area / Eleventh District Command Center in Alameda, California, and the Assistant Operations Officer at Group San Francisco. Staff assignments include Deputy Director of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Military Campaign Office in Washington D.C., Program Analyst in the Office of Search and Rescue in Washington D.C., and Deployable Team Leader for the International Training Division in Yorktown, Virginia. She served one tour afloat onboard the Coast Guard Cutter MORGENTHAU in Alameda, California.

    Captain Lusk is a native of Boise, Idaho and a 1998 graduate from the Coast Guard Academy, earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Government. In 2013, she was awarded a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Her personal awards include three Meritorious Service Medals, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals, three Coast Guard Achievement Medals, three Commandant’s Letters of Commendation, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. She is authorized to wear the Advanced Boat Forces Operations Insignia.

  • Marisol Maddox

    "Marisol Maddox"Marisol Maddox is a Senior Arctic Analyst at the Polar Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Her research considers the nexus of the Arctic, climate change, security, and geopolitics. She is particularly interested in how the growing presence of actorless threats-- such as climate change and biodiversity loss-- challenges strategic thinking and first-order assumptions about security.

    Ms. Maddox is a non-resident research fellow at the Center for Climate & Security, a term member of The Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative at the U.S. Naval War College, and co-lead of the International Climate working group of Foreign Policy for America’s NextGen Initiative. 

    Ms. Maddox holds an M.A. in International Security with a concentration in Transnational Challenges from George Mason University’s Schar School. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Ecosystems from Binghamton University.

  • Andreas Østhagen

    "Andreas Osthagen"Andreas Østhagen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo (2017-) and an Associate Professor at High North Center at Nord University Business School in Bodø, North Norway (2014-). He also teaches the course ‘Geopolitics and the Arctic’ at Oslo New University College (2018-) and is affiliated senior fellow at The Arctic Institute (2011-) and a global fellow at the Wilson Center (2021-). His work focuses on geopolitics, security and ocean governance and resource management in the Arctic and beyond, under the larger framework of international relations and law. Østhagen is the author of Ocean Geopolitics (Edward Elgar, 2022) and Coast Guards and Ocean Politics in the Arctic (Palgrave, 2020). He holds a PhD in international relations from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver; a Master of Science from the London School of Economics; and a BA from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Previously, Østhagen has worked in Brussels for the North Norwegian European Office (2010-2014) and for the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (2014-2017). Andreas has also had shorter work-stints at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC (2011), the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation in Toronto, Canada (2013), and the Bren School of Environmental Science at University of California Santa Barbara (2019). Moreover, in 2022, Andreas was a Fulbright Scholar with the Arctic Initiative at the Belfer Center, Harvard University, and at the Polar Institute at the Wilson Center. 

  • Rebecca Pincus

    "Rebecca Pincus"Dr. Rebecca Pincus is director of the Polar Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Previously, she was on the faculty at the US Naval War College, in the Center for Naval Warfare Studies. She served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, as Arctic and Climate Strategy Advisor with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Arctic and Global Resilience. Previously, was a faculty member and director of research for the US Coast Guard at its Center for Arctic Study and Policy, based at the US Coast Guard Academy. She is currently a contributing author for the 5th National Climate Assessment. 

  • Mike Sfraga

    "Mike Sfraga"Dr. Michael Sfraga was the founding director of the Polar Institute and served as the director of the Global Risk and Resilience Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. He currently serves as chair and distinguished fellow in the Polar Institute, where his scholarship and public speaking focus on Arctic policy.

    An Alaskan and a geographer by training, his work focuses on the changing geography of the Arctic and Antarctic landscapes, Arctic policy, and the impacts and implications of a changing climate on political, social, economic, environmental, and security regimes in the Arctic.

    Sfraga served as distinguished co-lead scholar for the U.S. Department of State’s inaugural Fulbright Arctic Initiative from 2015 to 2017, a complementary program to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council; he held the same position from 2017 to 2019. He served as chair of the 2020 Committee of Visitors Review of the Section for Arctic Science (ARC), Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, and currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs. Sfraga previously served in several academic, administrative, and executive positions at the University of Alaska, including vice chancellor, associate vice president, faculty member, department chair, and associate dean. Sfraga earned the first PhD in geography and northern studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

  • Abbie Tingstad

    "Abbie Tingstad"Abbie Tingstad is an associate director of the Management, Technology, and Capabilities Program (MTC) in the Homeland Security Research Division, codirector of the Climate Resilience Center, and a senior physical scientist at the RAND Corporation. Her research focuses on issues related to strategy and planning in defense and homeland security, and for the environment. Research examples include: examining different pathways for Arctic development, documenting the Arctic capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces, enhancing resilience of water and energy utilities, analyzing needs for digital modernization, understanding priorities for technology research & development, and developing methods for foresight activities including analytic gaming.

    Tingstad received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to that, she was awarded an M.Sc. in environmental geomorphology from the University of Oxford, and a B.S. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Andrey Todorov

    "Andrey Todorov"Andrey Todorov is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Belfer Center’s Arctic Initiative. He holds a PhD in Law from the Moscow State Linguistic University, with research interests in the Arctic Ocean governance and the international Law of the Sea. He worked in the Legal Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he focused mainly on various issues of the International Law of the Sea, in particular, delimitation of maritime areas in the Arctic, combating piracy at sea, legal regime of the seabed areas beyond national jurisdiction, regulation of shipping on the Northern Sea Route, etc. His current research explores issues related to identifying opportunities for enhancing the US-Russia cooperation on shipping regulation in the Bering Strait Region.

  • Captain Steve White

    Captain Steve White joined the Marine Exchange as the Executive Director in September of 2021 after serving 31 years in the Coast Guard. His last assignment was Sector Commander and Captain of the Port for SE Alaska.

    Steve served 7 tours throughout Alaska including assignments to 4 ships, 2 of which he served as the Commanding Officer. His other tours included serving on a Coast Guard Atlantic Area ship, service with the Joint Forces Maritime Component Command, serving with Navy and Coast Guard forces in the Middle East and various other Coast Guard units. He has patrolled the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Seas, Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Steve sat on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council as the Coast Guard representative, served as the Enforcement Chair for the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and was the Incident Commander for the Coast Guard’s Arctic Operations. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Management from the US Coast Guard Academy, a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and completed a Military Executive Fellowship program with the RAND Corporation. He has a passion for the maritime environment and particularly Alaska.

Andrey Todorov, "Shipping Governance in the Bering Strait Region: Protecting the Diomede Islands and Adjacent Waters," Marine Policy, Volume 146, 2022, 105289, ISSN 0308-597X,

Abstract: Increasing shipping in the Bering Strait Region (BSR) has prompted the two coastal states, the United States and Russia, to implement measures aimed at reducing the risks to the region’s sensitive marine environment and local population dependent on subsistence economies. A significant step forward was made in 2018 when the two countries established joint ships’ routeing measures in the area through the International Maritime Organization (IMO). However, additional measures will be needed to create a comprehensive traffic management scheme in the BSR. This article focuses on analyzing potential courses of action that Russia and the United States could pursue, jointly or separately, to protect the BSR from the adverse effects of growing shipping. In particular, it studies and compares specific tools that could be applied to the Diomede Islands and adjacent marine areas, such as designation of Areas To Be Avoided (ATBAs) and Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSAs), speed restrictions, and implementation of a ship reporting system. In addition, considering the growing tensions between the United States and Russia, this article explores several potential scenarios in which the two countries implement different instruments independently of each other.

Inga Banshchikova, Crossing the Line: How the Increase in Shipping Traffic Threatens the Bering Strait, WWF, November 2022,

Abstract: Today the Arctic is undergoing a fundamental transformation. Driven by climate change, this transformation promotes and accelerates industrial development in a fragile and vulnerable environment. As the Arctic sea ice is melting, northern shipping routes become navigable, providing easier access to the region’s vast hydrocarbon and mineral reserves. The expansion of the maritime activity over the Northern Sea Route, the flagship shipping lane of the north, heightens the risks to Arctic ecosystems, including pollution, increasing the likelihood of groundings, collisions, strikes of marine mammals or small watercraft, and spills of oil or other types of contaminants. These threats are especially relevant for the unique biologically productive ecosystems like the Bering Strait. The Bering Strait is the Northern Sea Route’s eastern gate, the narrow waterway separating the Russian Far East and Western Alaska. This paper presents a comprehensive look at the types and volumes of commodities that account for the expansion of maritime shipping activity along Russia’s northern coast and highlights the risk to already climate-imperiled ecosystems, species, and people. This report aims to increase public understanding of the trends in shipping traffic in the Arctic and to raise awareness of the risks that traffic poses. The paper suggests mitigation measures that might help reduce these threats and protect the precious ecosystem.