High North – Low Tension

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Norway in the Arctic. Photo: MFA Norway.

This week, Ambassador Kamsvåg visited the National Defence College (NDC) in Delhi where he held a lecture with the title “Geo-politics and Geo-economics of the Arctic Region” for a group of officers and civil servants.

National Defence College is India’s most prestigious military educational institution, training India’s senior most officers. The assembly consisted of 100 handpicked students, 25 of them from other countries, mainly from Asia, but also from Europe, Africa, North and South America. 

The Arctic is a region in rapid transformation and is gaining importance globally, also geopolitically. As the ice retreats, the Arctic countries will no longer be divided by the ice, but connected by the ocean. The sea will become a highway, not a barrier. For the first time in history, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean will be connected through a sea passage around the North Pole. The North East Passage between Europe and Asia – can potentially be ice free in 2050. It will open up new possibilities for trade and transport, mining, oil and research.

There are also challenges associated with this. As climate change in the Arctic speeds up the ice melting and there is more human activity in the region, Kamsvåg pointed out that we must ensure that we have institutions that are robust enough to handle the developments in the future.

Some of the questions from the audience implied that the Arctic is seen as an area characterized by military posture and fight over resources. In contrast, the ambassador’s main message was “High North – Low Tension” and that the Arctic has some of the world’s most productive as well as well-managed sea areas. Kamsvåg also used the opportunity to point of the long history between Norway and India. The links between India and the Nordic countries are many, and often surprising. Although situated far from each other, evidence of Norway-India relations go back for more than thousands years. This was illustrated with a story on how a figure of the Lord Buddha was discovered when archaeologists excavated the Oseberg viking ship in Norway.

To read the full speech, click here