6 Administration

6.1 Introduction

In its essentials the structure of the apparatus for administering Svalbard remains unaltered, cf. the discussion in section 4.3. However, there have been some changes since Report No. 9 to the Storting (1999 – 2000), Svalbard, at both the central and local level. An increasingly diversified local community, a greater need for legislation and other trends are creating challenges not only for the central administration, but also for the local administration. The general activity level has risen, and more players are involved in the archipelago.

In view of these developments, the Interministerial Committee on Polar Affairs was bolstered in accordance with Recommendation No. 196 (1999 – 2000) to the Storting. At the same time, local democracy has been established in Longyearbyen through the creation of the Longyearbyen Community Council in 2002.

6.2 Central administration

6.2.1 The Interministerial Committee on Polar Affairs

The Ministry of Justice and the Police is responsible for coordinating Norwegian policy towards Svalbard. This responsibility is in part exercised through the Interministerial Committee on Polar Affairs. The Polar Affairs Department of the Ministry of Justice and the Police serves as the secretariat and is also responsible for informing the committee and presenting it with items of business. The current instructions for dealing with polar affairs and for the Interministerial Committee on Polar Affairs (Committee on Polar Affairs Instructions) were laid down by the Royal Decree of 18 October 2002. This followed the consideration by the Storting of Report No. 9 (1999 – 2000) to the Storting, Svalbard, in which the Storting Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs requested in Recommendation No. 196 (1999 – 2000) to the Storting that the position of the Interministerial Committee on Polar Affairs be strengthened in order to guarantee the necessary control and coordination of the central administration’s dealings with Svalbard and other polar affairs.

The Ministry of Justice and the Police have initiated an effort to revise the Committee on Polar Affairs Instructions.

6.2.2 The Svalbard budget

Article 8 second paragraph of the Svalbard Treaty reads as follows:

“Taxes, dues and duties levied shall be devoted exclusively to the said territories and shall not exceed what is required for the object in view.”

A separate budget for Svalbard is presented every year in order to show the revenues and expenditures in Svalbard. Each year the Ministry of Justice and the Police submits the Svalbard budget as a separate budget proposition concurrently with the national budget proposal. The Svalbard budget comprises three main parts. First there is an overall presentation of developments in the archipelago and the Government’s focus areas and priorities. This is followed by a presentation of the various chapters of the budget, before concluding with an overview of state appropriations for Svalbard purposes broken down by the areas of responsibility of all the ministries. The various chapters in the Svalbard budget have remained largely unchanged, with the exception of a few minor changes over the past decade. For instance, a new Chapter 3 Grant for the Longyearbyen Community Council has been created. The Ministry of Justice and the Police will consider a closer examination of the content of some of the chapters of the budget to ensure that appropriations harmonise in the best possible way with the objectives of the various chapters.

In recent years, tax revenues in Svalbard have risen as a consequence of the general increase in activity in the archipelago. Even so, expenditure in the Svalbard budget is higher than revenue, which means that each year the budget receives a supplemental allocation from the national budget. As Figure 6.1 makes clear, the Svalbard budget has grown substantially the past ten years, which reflects the increase in activity in the archipelago. Parallel with the rise in total expenditure, the table shows that since 2006, revenues have been higher than the allocation from the national budget.

Figure 6.1 Overview of trends in the Svalbard budget, based on figures
 from the central government accounts.

Figure 6.1 Overview of trends in the Svalbard budget, based on figures from the central government accounts.

Source Report No. 3 to the Storting Central Government Accounts including National Insurance for 2001 – 2008

Report No. 9 (1999 – 2000) to the Storting states that: “[e]conomic transfers to Svalbard should not rise above the current level, and it is the Government’s aim that they should be reduced in the long term. However, in the foreseeable future there will be a need for allocations, both for investments and for the operation of activities.” As the figure makes clear, economic transfers to the Svalbard budget rose substantially from 2001 to 2002. This is due to the establishment of the Longyearbyen Community Council from 1 January 2002, and the fact that at the same time, the Community Council assumed ownership of Svalbard Samfunnsdrift AS (SSD). In 2002, the appropriation for the newly founded Longyearbyen Community Council was NOK 41 million, while its predecessor the Svalbard Council received NOK 1.8 million from the Svalbard budget in 2001. As the 2000s wore on, the allocation to the Svalbard budget rose in step with investment related to infrastructure in Longyearbyen (energy, school, church etc.), construction of the Svalbard Research Centre and the Marine Laboratory in Ny-Ålesund.

Figure 6.2 shows the total appropriations for Svalbard purposes through the national budget. The increase throughout the past decade is primarily due to a greater focus on research and education in the archipelago.

Figure 6.2 Total appropriations for Svalbard purposes through the national

Figure 6.2 Total appropriations for Svalbard purposes through the national budget.

Source Proposition No. 1 to the Storting, the Svalbard Budget, 2001 to 2009

The Government believes that the Svalbard budget guarantees the Storting and the public a coherent presentation of developments in the archipelago, while it provides information about the authorities’ priorities and commitments in the archipelago. For that reason the Government will continue the arrangement of presenting a separate Svalbard budget.

6.3 Local administration

6.3.1 The Governor of Svalbard

The Svalbard Act of 17 July 1925 established a special administrative system for Svalbard. Section 5 of the Svalbard Act reads as follows: “In Svalbard there shall be a Governor”. The Act entered into force in 1925, and since then there has been a Governor of Svalbard. In the beginning the office consisted of only one person, but over the years the organisation has grown, and today the office has around 34 full-time equivalents (FTEs).

Instructions for the Governor’s responsibilities and tasks are set out in the Royal Decree of 20 April 1979. They stipulate that the Governor is the Government’s highest-level representative in the archipelago. The Governor’s chief task is to work to ensure that the Government’s and the Storting’s decisions are carried out, their objectives met and guidelines followed and to protect Norway’s rights and carry out Norway’s duties under the Svalbard Treaty. Besides implementing Norwegian Svalbard policy, the Governor pays a key role in setting the agenda for Norwegian policy in the archipelago.

Although the Governor has a wide range of tasks, his core duties comprise safety and emergency preparedness efforts in the archipelago, the police and public prosecution authority and environmental management. Pursuant to Section 5 of the Svalbard Act, “The Governor shall have the same authority as a County Governor. The Governor is also chief of police and notary public”. As county governor, the Governor of Svalbard is responsible for local environmental management for the entire archipelago, as well as for the management of cultural monuments and for some family law-related duties. With regard to supervisory tasks, the Government has assigned the County Governor of Troms the role of overseeing the Longyearbyen Community Council as school owner and authority over day care institutions. The Governor of Svalbard is to be responsible for Svalbard-related issues in connection with such supervision and shall also be able to participate in inspections. In the area of education, the Ministry of Education and Research is working to formalise the division of supervisory tasks in the Education Regulations for Svalbard.

Textbox 6.1 The Governor of Svalbard

The post of the Governor of Svalbard was created in 1925. When the provision of the Svalbard Act concerning the Governor was debated in 1925, the Storting required that the administrative system and duties of the Governor could be changed as needed. For that reason, the Governor of Svalbard is not appointed as an officer of the Crown, and this arrangement has continued since that time. Nor has the Governor of Svalbard always resided permanently in Svalbard. The position has alternated between being permanent and under fixed-term contracts, and for three years during the Second World War the position was unfilled. From 1936 to 1953 the Governor of Svalbard fell under the Ministry of Trade/Industry, but otherwise the position fell under the Ministry of Justice.

Since 1925 many persons have held the office for terms of various lengths – far more than those who actually were appointed by the King in Council. Between 1928 and 1935, the County Governor of Troms, Johannes Bassøe, also functioned as Governor of Svalbard, and a deputy was assigned to Svalbard. Erik Haavie Thoresen served in the summers of 1929 to 1931, while Wolmer Marlow spent the winter from 1932 to 1933. Without a doubt the most well-known of the deputies is Helge Ingstad, who was the winter deputy in the years 1933 – 35. In 1935 the position was permanently in Svalbard again, and in the Governor’s absence an Acting Governor was appointed. Among those serving for lengthy periods are Carl M. Rynning-Tønnesen (1955 – 56) and more recently Sven Ole Fagernæs (2005).

The following Governors of Svalbard were appointed following announcements of and applications for the position:

Johannes Gerckens Bassøe 1925 – 1935

Wolmer T. Marlow 1935 – 1942

Håkon Balstad 1945 – 1956

Odd Birketvedt 1956 – 1960

Finn Backer Midbøe 1960 – 1963

Tollef Landsverk 1963 – 1967

Stephen Stephensen 1967 – 1970

Frederik W. Beichmann 1970 – 1974

Leif T. Eldring 1974 – 1978

Jan S. Grøndahl 1978 – 1982

Carl A. Wendt 1982 – 1986

Leif T. Eldring 1986 – 1991

Odd Blomdal 1991 – 1995

Ann-Kristin Olsen 1995 – 1998

Morten Ruud 1998 – 2001

Odd Olsen Ingerø 2001 – 2005

Per O. Sefland 2005-

A number of regulations assign duties and authority to the Governor of Svalbard in many areas. For example, the Governor monitors compliance with the Regulations concerning medical and health matters in Svalbard outside of the Longyearbyen land-use planning area and with the Regulation concerning the establishment, operation and use of satellite earth stations. Furthermore, the Governor performs duties authorised by the Regulations concerning the system for governing alcoholic beverages and the Regulations concerning fire services in Svalbard. The Governor is also involved in planning and implementation of meetings and inspections with regard to matters that fall directly under the relevant mainland authorities (e.g. the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority). The Governor’s coordination tasks with regard to central government activities in Svalbard are becoming increasingly demanding, because the pace of change in the community is high, while legal conditions in Svalbard become increasingly similar to those on the mainland. At the same time, several mainland bodies, both the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and the Coastal Administration, have recently been granted direct authority in Svalbard. It is a crucial task to ensure that particular considerations regarding Svalbard – also viewed in an overall context – are taken into consideration by this exercise of authority.

The interest in Svalbard and the High North is growing rapidly among Norwegian as well as foreign players. With increasing attention there is a greater influx to the archipelago of various official and private delegations. The Office of the Governor of Svalbard notes this growing interest in the form of hosting duties, briefings and security detail in connection with the visits of royalty, statesmen and other officials. From 2005 to 2008 the number of briefings held by the Governor for various groups doubled.

The Office of the Governor has three departments: police, environmental protection and administration. The interpreter, legal adviser and tourism and information officer report directly to the Governor/Deputy Governor. In summer 2008 an organisation review was conducted to document the tasks of the County Governor and the resources and expertise available to the organisation to carry them out. In addition, an evaluation of whether the current organisation is adapted to the Governor’s duties and objectives was held. The conclusion was that the current organisation underpins the management tasks performed by the Governor.

The review showed that the greater attention to Svalbard and the High North in general, the population increase in Longyearbyen and a trend whereby an increasing number of laws are applied to the archipelago have contributed to a significant increase in the Governor’s duties in both scope and complexity. Furthermore, a wide range of areas of responsibility is assigned to the Governor, which challenges the organisation in terms of resource use, priorities, internal coordination and the division of labour. In view of the above-mentioned it is important to continue to enhance the role of the Governor of Svalbard to meet the level of ambition set by the Norwegian authorities regarding administration and the exercise of authority.

As a follow-up of the Storting’s debate on Report No. 9 (1999 – 2000) to the Storting, Svalbard, an evaluation was done in 2004 – 2005 of the fixed-term arrangement for the employees of the Office of the Governor of Svalbard. In connection with the review, the arrangement was maintained, and the length of the fixed term was extended to six years. This provides a good balance between recruitment of qualified labour and stability in the organisation.

Police duties

As mentioned above, as the chief of police in Svalbard, the Governor has the same responsibility and authority as chiefs of police on the mainland. In addition to responsibility for the search and rescue service, the Governor also has responsibilities in the area of civil protection and emergency planning.

The Governor of Svalbard serves the inhabitants of Longyearbyen and the population of the other local communities in the archipelago, which all together comprises Norway’s largest police district in area. The Governor attaches great importance to the collaboration with local volunteer groups, in the areas of rescue and emergency response services, hunting and wildlife management and various prevention efforts.

Crime in Svalbard is generally low. However, from time to time, various kind of accidents and violations of environmental protection and tourism legislation require resource-intensive investigations. This involves a need for a broad-based, long-term police effort, which puts a strain on a small organisation. In cases like these there is often broad cooperation not only across departments of the Office of the Governor, but also with other players such as the Directorate of Mining with the Commissioner of Mines for Svalbard and the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority.

Textbox 6.2 Trappers’ stations in the future

Figure 6.3 Cape Wijk

Figure 6.3 Cape Wijk

Source Georg Bangjord

Overwintering hunting and trapping in Svalbard goes back to the early 1700s. Norwegian overwintering hunting and trapping increased in scope towards the end of the 1800s and continued until the First World War. Today, trappers live at five stations in the archipelago: Akseløya in Van Mijenfjord, Cape Wijk in Isfjord, Farmhamna in Forlandsund, Austfjordneset in Wijdefjord and Mushamna in Woodfjord. The two first stations are privately owned, while the Governor of Svalbard lends the other two out on a yearly basis. Today’s trappers help to preserve an important part of Svalbard’s history and culture, keeping alive Svalbard’s oldest economic activity.

Preserving the trapping tradition is important. At the same time this is living culture that is undergoing transformation and should be developed further. For that reason, the Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the Governor of Svalbard, will consider modernising the set-up for trappers in view of a growing need for observations services in the archipelago.

As previously the Governor ought to be able to grant applications for trapping activities within a certain trapping area. The main features of the current set-up for trappers should be continued to preserve the recognition and legitimacy of the trapping tradition.

One way to develop the set-up for trappers may be to assign some public-sector tasks to trappers. From the perspective of search and rescue and emergency response, it would be in the authorities’ interest for there to be trappers’ huts out in the wilderness areas and for them to be inhabited by qualified and experienced trappers, who in given situations can report on particular conditions. Other relevant tasks may be inspection and light maintenance of trappers’ stations and fuel depots for search and rescue helicopters and reporting on conditions and light maintenance of buildings of cultural-historical interest in the trapping area. The same applies to observations that are of interest to the Governor’s nature management.

In view of this, there will be closer ties between the Governor, field inspectors and the trappers in question, in a structure where the public interest in the area of supervision, control and emergency preparedness over large areas will be far better taken care of in an appropriate and economical manner.

In the area of search and rescue in Svalbard, the Governor collaborates closely with local volunteer organisations, including the Longyearbyen Red Cross Rescue Team. New instructions for civil defence and emergency response efforts have been prepared for county governors and the Governor of Svalbard. In recent years the Governor’s emergency response duties have also been expanded to also include nuclear preparedness, in line with the responsibilities of county governors on the mainland. The responsibility for planning and operative preparedness is vested in the police department. An effort has been initiated to clarify the division of roles between the Governor and local bodies in Longyearbyen with regard to various tasks in the area of civil defence and emergency response work.

An increase in activities in the High North as a consequence of ice-free areas may present challenges to the Governor relating to search and rescue and emergency response services. In this connection it is important that the emergency services in Svalbard, the police and the health service are at all times sized to meet this responsibility.

Environmental protection tasks

The Governor is the regional state environmental authority in Svalbard and is responsible for enforcing the environmental legislation and monitoring compliance with it. According to this legislation, a number of measures and activities require a permit from the Governor, who also has an important preparatory role in the effort to develop regulations and other policy instruments. The Governor’s environmental protection tasks include the protection of areas, species management, cultural monuments, infrastructure development and pollution and land-use planning in areas where the responsibility has not been delegated to the Longyearbyen Community Council.

Act No. 79 of 15 June 2001 relating to environmental protection in Svalbard (Svalbard Environmental Protection Act) entered into force on 1 July 2002. The Act is framework legislation to cover protection of areas, management of flora and fauna, land-use planning, pollution, traffic and cultural heritage. Together with a number of regulations it unites in a single set of rules provisions that on the mainland are spread out among various statutes and regulations. These rules implement the ambitious environmental goals for Svalbard and give the Governor a well-suited and modern set of tools for managing the archipelago’s natural environment and cultural monuments. At the same time, the entry into force of the new law and the creation of the Longyearbyen Community Council and Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund have led to new tasks in the form of advising, administrative procedures and supervisory efforts.

After the adoption in 2002 of the set of regulations pursuant to the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, Bjørnøya and several areas in central parts of Spitsbergen were protected. In the protected areas the challenge is to develop good strategies to balance user and preservation interests within the framework of the purpose of preservation. A useful tool for accomplishing this are targeted management plans.

A crucial task for the Governor’s environmental protection department is to follow up the requirements set for local activities and community services with respect to pollution and waste. In this connection, an important task is to ensure that localities with environmental toxins and hazardous waste are ascertained and the necessary action taken. This effort includes in some cases extensive collaboration with activities in Barentsburg. For Longyearbyen separate local refuse collection regulations are being drawn up with new and stricter standards for waste treatment.

The Governor of Svalbard approves the land-use plans that according to statute are to be drawn up for the settlements in Svalbard. The Longyearbyen Community Council is the planning authority for the Longyearbyen land-use planning area. The town is growing within the boundaries of the land-use planning area. This is leading to densification and increasing pressure on space. It is important to ensure reasonable use of this space. The shortage of new, unbuilt-on space necessitates greater densification and a more carefully considered use of space to limit conflicts between users, reduce environmental impacts and address civil protection needs. Consequently, there has been a considerable increase in the number of planning cases for consideration by the Governor. There is also an increase in the number of major projects for which environmental impact assessments are being done by the initiator as required by the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act. The largest projects, such as the planned expansion of mining operations, place heavy demands on the Governor and take up considerable resources.

It is also an important task for the Governor to document cultural monuments before they deteriorate and become ruins. In 2008 a multi-year documentation project was launched. There is ongoing work on new management plans for various areas and preservation purposes. The management of the collection of objects in the cultural history repository at the Svalbard Museum is a big responsibility, and extensive work remains for documentation and the condition of preservation to reach national standards.

The Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund was created in 2007 at the same time as the introduction of the environmental charge for travellers to Svalbard. The Governor of Svalbard has the secretariat function. The first allocations from the fund were made in autumn 2007, see also Box 7.1.


The Governor is responsible for matters governed by the regulations concerning tourism and other travel and has a tourism adviser for handling these tasks. The regulations shall ensure that visitors and others travelling in the archipelago do this in a way that protects their safety and the interests of the natural environment and cultural monuments. They contain provisions concerning a notification and insurance requirement for individual travellers and tour operators, and there is authorisation to submit claims to cover the Governor’s expenses for search and rescue missions outside of close-in areas, regardless of culpability.

The Governor attaches great importance to close contact and communication with the tourism industry. For example, regular contact meetings are held with representatives of the local tour operators. The collaboration with the Svalbard Tourist Board and Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) with regard to information for visitors and registration and statistics compilation is important. Efforts to change attitudes through information and communication helps ensure both compliance with the existing regulations and the development of a better understanding of the importance of addressing safety and environmental considerations. Thus, this effort is a good supplement to other policy instruments such as statutory and other regulation.

The information service

Svalbard’s unique administrative system has necessitated the strategic use of information in order to maintain an appreciation for the exercise of Norwegian authority in the archipelago and to prepare the ground for administrative decisions. The growing political and media interest in Svalbard necessitates an active information service that can meet the demand from a number of different groups.

The creation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in 2007 did even more to help put Svalbard on the world map. For example, Time magazine named the Seed Vault the world’s sixth-best innovation in 2008. Other examples worth mentioning are the travel publication Lonely Planet’s recent ranking of Svalbard as one of ten travel destinations that need to be experienced in 2009 and National Geographic magazine’s declaration in 2008 that Svalbard is the world’s best place to experience snow.

The Governor receives regular requests from major foreign news agencies for information and for an opportunity to do stories in the field. During 2007 and 2008, Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN and Reuters all had representatives in Svalbard. This development must be expected to continue in the future.

Svalbard is also increasingly used by Norwegian authorities and others as a platform for visits for discussions on various issues, particularly as a “showcase” with regard to dialogue with partners on climate challenges. Although Svalbard is quite suitable in this regard, the influx places heavy demands on the Governor’s information and visitors’ service. There are reasons to believe that this trend will continue.

The growth in tourism and traffic in Svalbard has also necessitated an increase in the resources allocated to information directed at both organised tourism and individual visitors. The requirements in the Tourist Regulations and Svalbard’s unique nature and climate mean that the Governor needs to devote a lot of resources to information aimed at tourists and others travelling in the field. The information centre “Svalbardporten” and the Governor’s website are two important information channels serving these groups.

Each year there are accidents or serious incidents in the field involving residents or visitors. Situations like these create a surge of enquiries from families and the media, and the need for timely and correct information is substantial. The increase in the population, industrial and other business activity and traffic is leading to a greater risk of serious incidents involving large numbers of people. If such situations should arise, they place heavy demands on the Governor’s communication preparedness, primarily vis-à-vis the population of Svalbard, but also vis-à-vis Norwegian and foreign media.

In 2008 the Governor’s website was reorganised. The website now has a dynamic news page that helps to limit the surge of enquiries directed to the crisis or rescue management in the event of serious incidents.

Contact with foreign companies and activities

The Governor of Svalbard is in regular contact with all foreign activities in the archipelago. There is regular contact with the management of Trust Artikugol and with the General Consulate of the Russian Federation in Barentsburg, and the Governor will work to continue and deepen such contact. Even through the presence and information activities on the part of the Governor are growing, the need for general and specific information is still substantial. That is why regular contact meetings and office days are held in Barentsburg, and personnel from the Governor’s office attend other meetings and inspections and participate in various official missions. In addition, the Governor holds an annual information meeting for the population in the town. These measures are important for ensuring that people have a certain level of knowledge of the Norwegian administration and the authority of the Governor. Particularly when emergencies have arisen, experience has shown that knowledge of the exercise of authority in Svalbard is essential to ensuring the effectiveness and endorsement of the authorities’ efforts.

6.3.2 Longyearbyen Community Council

Report No. 9 (1999 – 2000) to the Storting, Svalbard, contained a proposal to introduce local democracy in Longyearbyen. The Storting endorsed the proposal, in terms of organisation, authority and tasks, cf. Recommendation No. 196 (1999 – 2000) to the Storting. This was followed up by Proposition No. 58 (2000 – 2001) to the Odelsting, Act to amend the Svalbard Act etc., (changes to local democracy in Longyearbyen). On 1 January 2002 the popularly elected body the Longyearbyen Community Council assumed its powers, and from the same date the Svalbard Council was abolished.

The Longyearbyen Community Council is primarily organised and regulated like a municipal authority. Chapter 5 of the Svalbard Act lays down the legal framework and follows the system of the Local Government Act. Elections to the Council take place every four years, the same years as local government elections on the mainland, but later in the autumn, owing to the special conditions in Svalbard. The Election Regulations are set up in accordance with the Election Act for the mainland.

Like a municipal authority, the Community Council is a democratic venue, a service provider, an authority and community developer. 165 years of local self-government on the mainland prepared the groundwork well for local government in Longyearbyen. Elections and the proximity of local politicians give the inhabitants of Longyearbyen the same opportunity to influence their local community that inhabitants of mainland municipalities have. Local self-government is deemed to be the best way to bring about efficient service production tailored to needs and correct priorities. An important bonus is that well-functioning local democracy promotes popular participation and debate. For details see the discussion of local democracy in Longyearbyen in section 10.1.1. Development of local democracy.

The Svalbard Act and other laws and regulations assign the Community Council a number of tasks. One important task is responsibility for all community infrastructure in Longyearbyen that has not been granted to others, including responsibility for energy supplies. Other areas of responsibility are community and land-use planning, surveying and subdividing land, planning permission, roads, water and sewer, refuse collection, port services, fire services, cemetery operations, financial planning, trade and industry work, statistics compilation, social services aimed at children, adolescents and adults, child welfare, social counselling, work with youth, day care and school operation. In addition to assigned tasks, like municipal authorities, the Community Council is empowered to become involved in other duties. In view of the special conditions in Svalbard, there are some restrictions on the Community Council’s general authority. Pursuant to Section 31 first paragraph of the Svalbard Act, the Longyearbyen Community Council may engage only in activities of general interest that are connected with Longyearbyen and are not provided by central government. In addition, the purpose provisions of Section 29 of the Svalbard Act also set some limitations on the Community Council in that its activities must be “within the framework of Norwegian Svalbard policy”.

Since January 2006 the Longyearbyen Community Council has organised its operations so that strategic tasks, the exercise of authority and the overarching ordering function are carried out by the Community Council’s own administration. Operational tasks for the community are generally performed by three municipal undertakings: one for services for children and adolescents, one for culture, and as of 1 January 2009, also Bydrift KF, with responsibility for the community’s technical services. Previously Bydrift was a limited company 100-per cent owned by the Community Council. Through this change, the Community Council has placed all important community functions in a separate organisation.

6.3.3 Other central government agencies

Norwegian Polar Institute

The Norwegian Polar Institute is the central government institution responsible for mapping, environmental monitoring and management-related research in the Arctic and Antarctic, technical and strategic adviser for the central administration and technical adviser for the environmental directorates and the Governor of Svalbard on polar matters.

The institute’s total store of knowledge, which is amassed through research and surveillance activities and physical presence, is intended to ensure a reliable and updated knowledge platform for administration and management and be the basis for the institute’s advisory function. The Norwegian Polar Institute is also to have a visible presence and activity in Svalbard, in order to make it a key contributor to the management of the archipelago environment and to the planning, coordination and facilitation of research there. The Norwegian Polar Institute is also to be the Governor’s chief advisor on environmental issues.

The institute is to have permanent premises and permanent staffing in Longyearbyen and in Ny-Ålesund, have its own research and environmental monitoring operations in Svalbard and participate actively in national and international environmental monitoring and research collaboration in the archipelago. The Norwegian Polar Institute shall also help to encourage and coordinate national and international research in Svalbard through participation in research coordination bodies such as NySMAC (Ny-Ålesund Science Managers’ Committee) and through collaborating on research projects and active use of its infrastructure, including research stations and field logistics.

Commissioner of Mines

The Directorate of Mining and the Commissioner of Mines for Svalbard (Directorate of Mining) is the central government agency tasked with management and exploitation of mineral resources and is an administrative agency directly under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Its area of authority covers statutory enforcement, registration of rights, approval of extraction plans (operation plans) and supervision of mineral extraction operations. The Directorate of Mines’ main office is in Trondheim. To perform the tasks of the Directorate of Mines in Svalbard, its Longyearbyen office is staffed by one employee for most of the year.

Svalbard Tax Office

The tax authorities for Svalbard have their own office in Longyearbyen. The tax office is organised as an office unit in Tax Region North and is organisationally under the regional manager there. The office unit assesses income tax and national insurance contributions for Svalbard and performs tax withholding. Currently the office in Longyearbyen has a staff of three.


Statsbygg administers most of the state-owned properties in Longyearbyen. These include commercial buildings, institutions and 113 housing units. Statsbygg administers the weather stations on Bjørnøya and Hopen. Altogether Statsbygg administers a total of 42,000 m2 of buildings in Svalbard, including Bjørnøya and Hopen. The operating costs of the hospital and school are covered by appropriations from the national budget, while the other buildings and housing are covered by the Svalbard budget. Statsbygg’s activities related to Svalbard cover approx. nine FTEs.

Svalbard Church

Svalbard Church serves all residents of the archipelago, giving the pastor ecclesiastical responsibility for attending to all settlements in Svalbard. For that reason the pastor visits all local communities during the year, including the hunting stations. Barentsburg, Ny-Ålesund and Svea are visited several times during the year. In connection with visits of a Catholic priest to Hornsund, the pastor has also participated in mass there, and Catholic masses have been held in Svalbard Church itself as a service to the Catholic population. The church performs ordinary ecclesiastical duties such as church services, baptisms, confirmation, marriages, memorial services and spiritual guidance, in addition to other ecclesiastical activities performed by clergy and catechists. The Svalbard ecclesiastical district is part of the Tromsø deanship, which belongs to the North Hålogaland diocese. The church has a staff of three.


Svalbard Airport, Longyear, is owned and operated by Avinor AS. Avinor Svalbard has 25 employees. As in the case of the other commercially unviable airports Avinor operates, shortfalls are covered by profits from the larger, commercially viable airports. For more about Avinor and Svalbard Airport, Longyear, see Chap. 11.

Longyearbyen Hospital

Longyearbyen Hospital is affiliated with the University Hospital of North Norway Trust. The hospital offers primary and specialist health services and is an accident and emergency care facility. Its overarching objective is to provide adequate health services to the population of Svalbard and to everyone travelling in and around the archipelago and adjacent waters in the Barents Sea. The hospital has a staff of 19. For more on hospital services, see Chap. 10.

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