A strategy to promote peaceful, innovative and sustainable development in the Arctic

‘Growth in North Norway is higher than in the rest of the country and benefits Norway as a whole. The Government will step up its overall efforts in the north, to make North Norway one of our most innovative and sustainable regions,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg. It is also an important message in the Arctic strategy, which was presented in Bodø, in North Norway, today.

The Government will give even higher priority to an integrated approach to Arctic policy and focus more on knowledge-based business development and infrastructure in the north. 

‘The Arctic offers major opportunities for development that will be valuable for the whole country. Seafood, oil and gas, shipping and tourism are growth industries. It is the people living in the north of Norway who know best how this potential can be realised. Our Arctic policy is therefore being developed in cooperation with businesses, institutions and local politicians in the north,’ said Ms Solberg.

The new strategy is based on the five priority areas set out in the Government’s Arctic policy published in 2014: international cooperation; business development; knowledge development; infrastructure; and environmental protection and emergency preparedness. These areas are crucial for ensuring sustainability in the north.

The Arctic is Norway’s most important foreign policy priority. Foreign and domestic policy are intertwined in the region, and people’s everyday lives involve both high politics and day-to-day issues. Close international cooperation is crucial to maintain safety standards and protect the Arctic environment and resources.

‘As a coastal state, we have a particular responsibility to promote safe and environmentally sound activities in the north. The Government will therefore establish a centre in the Lofoten/Vesterålen islands, which will develop cutting-edge national and international expertise on oil spill preparedness and response and marine plastic litter,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

In the Arctic, people are not divided by the ice, but rather joined by the ocean. Arctic policy and ocean policy are thus closely linked.

‘Norway will continue to play a leading role in the development and management of the Arctic. Despite the unrest in many parts of the world, we have managed to maintain the Arctic as a peaceful region, where cooperation is the norm. As Norway develops its Arctic areas, it will be vital for us to find ways of cooperating with our neighbours to deal with common challenges in the region. This is why we are investing heavily in international cooperation in the Arctic,’ said Mr Brende.

Norway intends to be a leader in the field of knowledge in and about the Arctic. This will create new jobs and allow Norway to play a part in setting the agenda for developments in the region. The strategy describes the Government’s intention to cooperate more closely with local and regional authorities in the north to improve the quality of education from primary school to university.

Another key aim is to increase value creation by companies in North Norway based on the rich Arctic resources. Two initiatives will be particularly important: the Government will promote the development of competitive suppliers, and it will give companies better access to research results.

Good communities are built by the people who live and work there. The Government has therefore established a regional forum for closer dialogue on Arctic policy between national and regional authorities and the Sámediggi (Sami parliament).

‘There is huge potential for growth, development and job creation in North Norway. By increasing knowledge, strengthening the links between business and research, and supporting local communities in the region, we can ensure that North Norway becomes the driver of growth that the country needs,’ said Minister of Local Government and Modernisation Jan Tore Sanner.

Infrastructure is crucial for growth and the transition to a greener economy. The Government plans to invest heavily in infrastructure under the National Transport Plan. The Government intends to promote better communications in North Norway and facilitate improvements in broadband coverage and in the fibre optic network between North Norway and other countries. Transport is also an important issue in Norway’s cooperation with its neighbouring countries. The fastest route out of Norway for Norwegian exports is often through Sweden or Finland.

‘The Government will do more to exploit the opportunities Nordic cooperation offers for growth and development in the Arctic. Norway, Sweden and Finland maintain a dialogue on how their major industries in the north can complement one another. Infrastructure is also an important priority,’ said Minister of EU and EEA Affairs and Minister of Nordic Cooperation Frank Bakke-Jensen.

The Government will:

  • Establish a centre in the Lofoten/Vesterålen islands, which will develop cutting-edge national and international expertise on oil spill preparedness and response and marine plastic litter.
  • Consider establishing a centre of expertise on ocean and Arctic issues in Tromsø
  • Establish a programme to foster the development of competitive suppliers and supply chains in North Norway and take steps to simplify cooperation between companies and knowledge institutions.
  • Announce the 24th oil and gas licensing round
  • Establish cooperation between central government, regional and other relevant actors to improve the quality of education from primary school to university.
  • Introduce a system for cancellation of student loans for teachers working in North Norway
  • Invest NOK 40 billion in North Norway through the National Transport Plan 2018-2029
  • Promote better communications in North Norway
  • Facilitate improvements in broadband coverage in North Norway and in the fibre optic network between North Norway and other countries.

The strategy has been drawn up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, with input from a wide range of sources.