Press release | Date: 2015-10-07 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
'The Arctic is Norway's most important foreign policy priority. The Government will continue to give high priority to Norway's efforts in the Arctic in 2016,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The budget proposes an allocation of around NOK 3 billion to measures in the following five priority areas: international cooperation, knowledge development, business development, infrastructure, and emergency preparedness and environmental protection.
'It is in everyone's interests that the Arctic remains a peaceful and stable region, and that the Law of the Sea and the established management regimes are complied with. International cooperation in the north, not least with Russia, has produced good results in areas such as maritime safety, joint fisheries management, the environment, nuclear safety and people-to-people cooperation. This should continue. Further development of cooperation with the US during their chairmanship of the Arctic Council will also be important. And of course the international climate debate will continue next year against the backdrop of dramatic climate change in the Arctic,' said Mr Brende.
Because of Norway's interests and responsibilities in the Arctic, it is essential for us to maintain a presence in the region and protect our rights and fulfil our obligations. Norway is therefore increasing the Armed Forces' presence at sea, and enhancing their monitoring capacity.
'The Government is giving greater priority to business development in the north. We want to enhance the links between research and the business sector, with a view to ensuring that investment in research also creates more new jobs. Our aim is to develop North Norway into one of our most innovative and sustainable regions,' said Mr Brende.
Several ministries share responsibility for Norway's efforts in the Arctic. In the 2016 budget, the Government is proposing to intensify efforts in the areas of business-oriented research, infrastructure and emergency preparedness in particular.
- Maritime patrol aircraft (Orion) and submarines to strengthen the Armed Forces' presence in the Arctic (Ministry of Defence, NOK 97.1 million);
- Enhancing emergency preparedness by lengthening the sailing season for the Governor of Svalbard's vessel Polarsyssel (Ministry of Justice and Public Security, NOK 18 million);
- Increasing the allocation for geological surveys in the Arctic (Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, NOK 115 million);
- Increasing the allocation for the Markom2020 project, which is further developing officer training and maritime vocational training in Norway as part of the implementation of Norway's new maritime strategy (Ministry of Education and Research, NOK 20 million).
Projects to be continued:
- Mapping of mineral resources in North Norway (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, approximately NOK 17.5 million);
- Oil spill response depot in Lofoten/Vesterålen (Ministry of Transport and Communications, NOK 41.1 million);
- Construction of a new ice-class research vessel (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, NOK 149 million);
- The Mareano programme (mapping of the seabed) (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and Ministry of Climate and Environment, NOK 95 million);
- The Fram Centre (research on climate change and the environment, and new premises) (Ministry of Climate and Environment and Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, NOK 202.2 million);
- BarentsWatch (maritime monitoring system) (Ministry of Transport and Communications, NOK 47 million);
- Satellite programmes that are relevant for the Arctic: EGNOS/Galileo and Copernicus (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, NOK 271.3 million);
- Continue the grant schemes Arctic 2030, project cooperation with Russia and nuclear safety with a high level of funding (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NOK 339.6 million).
The Government has already introduced a number of measures to follow up the strategic priorities of its Arctic policy. However, it is not possible to quantify all measures that benefit the region, for example enhanced Arctic diplomacy, regional cooperation in the Arctic, and the streamlining of national Norwegian planning processes to facilitate new business development in the north.
Measures under the National Transport Plan that benefit North Norway have not been quantified as specifically Arctic-related measures. However, the Government is giving high priority to developing transport systems in the north, including links with neighbouring countries. Upgrading of port infrastructure in Svalbard is mentioned in the National Transport Plan. In line with this, the Government is proposing an allocation of NOK 15 million for project planning in 2016.