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Historisk arkiv

The Government’s White Paper on the High North

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg II

Utgiver: Utenriksdepartementet

Briefing for det diplomatiske korps, Oslo, 21. november 2011

Utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre holdt denne briefingen for det diplomatiske korps i Oslo i forbindelse med framleggingen av regjeringens nordområdemelding noen dager før.

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The Minister based his briefing on the following talking points (and some slides).

Main points: 

Seven key developments during the last 10-20 years (x): 

The “story” of the High North from 1990 and the end of the Cold War up to 2010; there are seven key factors that have shaped today’s High North policy: 

  • Intensified and renewed cooperation with Russia.
  • Development of broad-based High North diplomacy.
  • Knowledge of the alarming pace of climate change.
  • Marine management has safeguarded resources.
  • The contours of a new oil and gas province.
  • Acceptance for the principles of the Law of the Sea.
  • A cooperation network is taking shape. 

Seven trends for the future (10-30 years): 

The Government has outlined seven development trends that will shape the initiatives and priorities of Norwegian High North policy in the time to come: 

  • A new energy province in Europe.
  • A new industrial age in the north.
  • Pioneering work on integrated marine management.
  • The growing attraction of the Arctic Ocean.
  • Source of knowledge about the environment and climate change.
  • Close and innovative cooperation in the High North.
  • New geopolitical centre of gravity in the High North. 

Four main objectives: 

Our High North policy is based on four overriding objectives: 

  • Ensuring peace, stability and predictability.
  • Ensuring integrated, ecosystem-based management and sustainable use of resources.
  • Strengthening international cooperation and the international legal order.
  • Strengthening the basis for employment, value creation and welfare throughout the country. 


(x) A few more talking points: 

  • The mistrust of the Cold War has to a great extent been replaced by normal, good neighbourly relations.
  • Increasing numbers of non-Arctic countries and actors are finding they have interests to protect in the north and are building up their capacity and expertise on the High North.
  • A major assessment of climate change in the Arctic under the Arctic Council improved knowledge of the interactions between regional and global climate change. An important contribution to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  • Norwegian–Russian cooperation on shared fish stocks based has given good results. Today the Barents Sea is home to the world’s largest cod stock.
  • Estimates indicating that large undiscovered oil and gas resources are to be found in Arctic areas are an important reason for the growing interest in the region. Energy production is moving northwards.
  • Practically all the outstanding border issues affecting Norway have also now been clarified. The Ilulissat Declaration confirms that the Law of the Sea applies in the Arctic Ocean.
  • The Arctic Council is the only circumpolar body and the leading political body for Arctic issues. The Barents Cooperation and the Northern Dimension. Important arenas for the implementation of our High North policy.
  • The High North – a project with a time horizon of a generation. Concrete measures developed on an ongoing basis and supported through the annual budget. But we also need a wider horizon – a VISION – that defines our direction and our overriding aims – in relation to both the trends we believe will determine the way forward and the aims we are seeking to achieve. 


Talking points for a conclusion or summary: 

  • A change of pace in our High North efforts.
  • In our previous white paper on the High North, we set out visions, objectives and measures. In this white paper, we are setting the course for our High North policy for the next 20 years.
  • The three main messages:
  • i) The High North – from the outskirts to a geopolitical centre: The history of the High North. Geopolitics, but also settlements on land where people live their lives. Climate change, access to new resources, and cooperation – Russia, the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council – are drivers of developments in the region. We are now facing challenges as well as opportunities that Norway must grasp in order to safeguard our interests and take part in developing the future in the High North and the Arctic. Based on a generational perspective.  
  • ii) Foundation laid for increased value creation. The legal, political and institutional frameworks are in place. System for sustainable development, including integrated management plans. The Government will therefore facilitate increased value creation in the north within a sound framework in terms of the environment and climate change. The white paper indicates how greater value can be created in the future.
  • iii) Norway as a leader in the field of knowledge and a responsible actor and partner. We will continue to develop Norwegian centres of expertise in key strategic areas, and demonstrate to the world that we are a preferred and responsible partner in the north. Partnerships will be vital for our success. So will close coordination between centres of expertise and good dialogues at national and international level. There is still work to be done. We must agree on more detailed provisions under the Law of the Sea (search and rescue, oil spill response, polar code). Must ensure both political and economic sustainability.  
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