A new white paper on the Arctic was presented to the Storting (Norwegian parliament) today following two years of hard work and close dialogue with stakeholders in the north. It is nine years since Norway last drew up a white paper on its Arctic policy. The new white paper has been given the title People, opportunities and Norwegian interests in the Arctic.
‘Domestic policy and foreign policy converge in the north. It is of vital interest to Norway that relations between neighbouring peoples and countries are good and that the natural environment is used responsibly and managed effectively. And it is of vital interest to Norway that young people can pursue an education, find relevant work opportunities and continue to live in North Norway. Investing in the people of North Norway is a crucial investment in Norway’s security,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Ms Solberg took part in the launch of the white paper in Alta, as did Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
‘The world has changed since Norway’s last white paper on the Arctic was published nine years ago. It was necessary to update our understanding of the key challenges and opportunities in the north. The security situation in particular has changed considerably since 2011, and new analyses were needed. This has been an important part of the work on the new white paper,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.
North Norway is a resource-rich and dynamic region, and its further development is a strategically important task.
‘This is why any discussion of the Arctic must also focus on job creation and value creation, and on schools, leisure activities and transport. It is important for the whole country to ensure that North Norway is a region where people want to live, train and study, work, create new jobs and contribute to economic growth,’ said Minister of Regional Development and Digitalisation Linda Hofstad Helleland.
The Government’s business policy focuses on people and on creating more viable and sustainable jobs.
‘It is about innovation, entrepreneurship, access to capital and about exploiting the many opportunities arising in connection with the transition to a green economy, particularly in the aquaculture sector,’ said Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø.
The business sector in North Norway has performed well in recent years, and the region experienced higher average growth than the rest of the country in the decade before the pandemic. The Government is seeking to build on this.
‘Local ownership and stewardship by people who have insight into conditions in the north are vital for ensuring further growth. In the white paper, we have therefore indicated that we will set up an investment fund with both public and private capital to be managed from North Norway. We will also support the efforts to establish an Arctic Investment Platform, which is a joint project between the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland and the European Investment Bank. The aim is to promote cooperation between the regions and attract more investment to the north,’ Ms Nybø said.
A dedicated youth panel consisting of 50 young people from all parts of North Norway was set up in connection with the preparation of the white paper. Participation is a key word in the panel’s recommendations. By setting up the panel and including its report as an annex to the white paper, the Government has shown that youth participation is a high priority in Norway’s Arctic policy. Minister of Children and Families Kjell Ingolf Ropstad has thanked the panel for its honest, insightful input and for the inspiring cooperation.
‘It is the young people in North Norway who are the region’s future. That is why it is so important to provide a good framework for education, housing, entrepreneurship, recreational and cultural activities and transport. We will follow up the input regarding the need for greater youth participation, for example by providing support for a youth coordinator position in the secretariat of the regional forum for dialogue on Arctic policy,’ Mr Ropstad said.
The youth panel has also highlighted the importance of developing North Norway as an attractive, innovative and economically strong region. The Government has listened to this input and has proposed an allocation of NOK 4 million over a three-year period for the establishment of a fund for young entrepreneurs, to be managed by Norinnova, a Tromsø-based company with expertise in the commercialisation of research and innovation projects. The fund will be targeted especially towards projects linking together research and value creation.
The new white paper (Meld. St. 9 (2020-2021) is divided into the following chapters and is available in Norwegian (from 11.45)
- Foreign and security policy
- Climate change and the environment
- Social development in the north
- Value creation and competence development
- Infrastructure, transport and communications
- Civil protection and emergency preparedness
Other key topics discussed in the white paper are sustainability, the oceans, Sami issues/indigenous peoples, youth issues, culture and sport.
The Youth panel's report is avaialble (only in Norwegian).
Watch the launch event here.