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Norway's Arctic Policy

The section excerpts from Norway's Arctic policy that we will review over the next two days cover the strategies foundations as well as its foreign and security components. Today's reading delves into Norway's overall goals for the Arctic and the legal framework through which it governs its Arctic territory: Read pages 6 - 14 on the pdf here:

1.1 Overarching goals

Norway’s Arctic policy focuses on the international picture, relations with neighbouring countries in the Barents region,

the northernmost regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden (known in Nordic countries as the North Calotte), and the development of North Norway. Further developing North Norway as a strong, dynamic and highly competent

region is the best way to safeguard Norwegian interests in the Arctic. The region is rich in natural resources that contribute to economic growth for the country as a whole, and the economy and social development of this region

are therefore a matter of national importance.

Norway’s Arctic policy is based on a long tradition of safeguarding Norway’s interests in the north through

broad-based international cooperation. The Arctic will continue to be Norway’s most important area of strategic responsibility. The Government will maintain its engagement in broad-based, proactive international cooperation in the north and in global arenas where the Arctic is discussed. This includes facilitating cross-border local and

regional cooperation in the north.

Some 9 % of Norway’s population lives north of the Arctic Circle, a greater proportion than in any other country in the

world. North Norway accounts for 35 % of Norway’s mainland territory. The region is home to some of Norway’s leading academic and research institutions in areas such as marine research, fisheries and natural resource management, climate change and environmental research, Arctic innovation and sustainable ocean-based industries. For many Norwegians, the Arctic provides both a home and a livelihood.

The white paper does not provide a list of all political initiatives or measures that could conceivably be relevant

for or in the Arctic. The Government’s aims and ambitions in the white paper will therefore also be followed up in

future sectoral and budgetary processes.

The input on which the white paper is based has largely been obtained through dialogue with counties, municipalities, the Sámediggi (Sami parliament) and key stakeholders from the business sector, and various organisations and

knowledge institutions in the north. A dedicated youth panel, set up in connection with the preparation of the white paper, has provided a report with recommendations.

All these partners have given their perspectives on key challenges and opportunities in the north.


1.3 The main features of Norway’s Arctic policy in the years ahead

Maintaining a consistent and predictable approach:

In light of the increasingly complex foreign and security policy

situation in the north, it is essential for us to maintain a consistent and predictable approach and a strong and credible defence in cooperation with our allies and partners.

The significance of security and defence in the Arctic is increasing, and strengthening Norway’s defence capability

in the north is a priority for the Government. A substantial part of the Norwegian Armed Forces’ operational structure

is located in the region. Norway has a long tradition of successfully balancing its various interests in the north.

Highlighting the benefits of cooperation:

The growing international interest in the Arctic has led to a greater tendency

to focus predominantly on the various competing interests, while cooperation forums that have functioned well for

decades are being overlooked or described as outdated. The Government will encourage Norwegian knowledge institutions to continue to play a part in ensuring that the international debate about the Arctic is based on facts

and sound analyses, not on myths. In this way, Norwegian research and knowledge communities can participate in

the efforts to promote Norwegian interests in the north.

Promoting respect for international law:

The Arctic is sometimes portrayed as an unregulated or even lawless region.

The impacts of the melting of the Arctic ice on countries outside the region are cited by some as a reason to view

developments in the Arctic as a shared global concern (‘what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic’).

This is being used as an argument for giving non-Arctic states a general right to participate in the management

of the Arctic. The rights, interests and options available to non-Arctic states vary depending on what they are seeking

to achieve in the different areas of jurisdiction. There is consensus among the members of the Arctic Council that

international law applies in the Arctic. Taking a broad-based approach to climate change and the

environment in the Arctic: The rapid warming of the Arctic is endangering Arctic species and ecosystems that are

dependent on ice and snow, and also poses a threat to local communities and the way of life and culture of indigenous

peoples. The rising temperature in the Arctic is primarily due to the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, not to human activity in the region. This underscores the importance of the Paris Agreement and the need for follow-up and implementation. The Government will take steps to restructure the Norwegian economy and facilitate Norway’s transformation into a low-carbon society by the middle of this century, and will continue to assist other

countries in their efforts to cut emissions.

Working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

The SDGs provide the overall direction for Norway’s Arctic policy. In addition, North Norway has both resources and

expertise of relevance to the EU’s European Green Deal, including in the areas of blue-green technology and green

transformation. This will be important for businesses and employment levels both in Norway and in other European

countries in the years ahead. The Government’s ocean policy focuses on global leadership, clean and productive

oceans, business development, knowledge and technology, and sound management.

Promoting job creation and value creation are overarching goals of Norway’s domestic Arctic policy. However, this

white paper is being presented in the midst of a global health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus

pandemic. The crisis is putting pressure on public finances, but has also highlighted the need to accelerate the process

of restructuring the economy.

The Government will promote closer cooperation between the business community and the higher education sector, with a view to creating attractive jobs in the north. In this context, it is important to expand cooperation with the other Nordic countries, which rank high internationally in research and innovation-based business development.

Being at the forefront of technological development:

Technological development continues to be a key goal of Norway’s Arctic policy, and is vital for reaching all our goals

in the north. Norway is well placed to make use of new technologies in areas where we already have cutting-edge expertise, such as health, energy, petroleum, maritime and marine industries, and the public sector. In North Norway,

better access to data on the oceans, space, climate change and health will open up new opportunities for promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and increasing value creation.

Preserving the identity and culture of national indigenous communities:

Indigenous issues are a priority in Norway’s

Arctic policy. Sami culture is a valuable part of our national

historical heritage. In recent years, Sami art and culture have

received growing attention and recognition both nationally

and internationally. The Government will explore new ways of

strengthening Sami culture, cultural industries and tourism,

in consultation with the Sámediggi. This may have positive

spin-off effects on job creation and value creation across

the country. As an indigenous people, the Sami have a right

to be consulted in matters that could affect them directly.

Promoting Kven/Norwegian Finn identity and culture:

The Kvens/Norwegian Finns have long ties to Norway and have left their mark on the historical development of

the Arctic. Today, Kven organisations and communities are working to revitalise Kven language and culture. The Kven language is recognised as a minority language in Norway. The Government will facilitate the preservation of the Kven language and Kven/Norwegian Finn culture and society.

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