A new ice-class research vessel, the development of the monitoring and information system BarentsWatch and a new technology building at the University of Tromsø are among the areas of Norway’s High North policy that are to be given priority in 2013.
“The budget for 2013 gives priority to increasing our knowledge of the High North, as well as to strengthening Norway’s activities and presence in the region,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
The total budget for High North activities for 2013 is close to NOK 2 billion, an increase of approximately NOK 290 million from 2012.
“The High North will continue to be the Government’s most important strategic foreign policy priority and this budget proposal will help us to achieve the key objectives of our High North policy. The aim is for Norway to be a leading actor in the development of the High North and the Arctic together with our neighbours, allies and partners,” said Mr Eide.
The Government proposes an initial allocation of NOK 75 million for the construction of a new ice-class research vessel, which will be based in Tromsø. The overall cost of the vessel is estimated at NOK 1.4 billion.
“The aim is for Norway to be a leader in the field of knowledge on the High North. The new research vessel will be important for environmental and polar research and for the mapping of natural resources. Increased activity in the region as a result of the retreating ice in our marine and coastal areas makes this investment particularly relevant,” said Mr Eide.
In terms of new activities to be given priority, the budget proposal for 2013 includes a basic allocation of NOK 10 million for the High North Center at the University of Nordland. In addition, NOK 6 million is to be allocated to the satellite-based distress alert system COSPAS-SARSAT under the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Northern Norway in Bodø, NOK 22 million to the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme, and NOK 13 million to the development of a new meteorological radar in the Helgeland region of Nordland county. The Government will also include an allocation for the construction of a new helicopter hangar in Svalbard in the budget proposal for 2013.
Increased funding for existing activities
The Government has also proposed an increase in the level of funding allocated to several other existing projects. An increase of NOK 17 million in funding for the further development of the comprehensive monitoring and information system BarentsWatch has been proposed, bringing the total allocation to NOK 47 million. NOK 160 million is to be set aside to create new student places at institutions in North Norway and Svalbard. NOK 197 million is to be allocated to emergency tugboat services in North Norway, and funding for the European satellite navigation system Galileo is to be increased by NOK 70 million to a total of NOK 174 million. The Government also proposes an allocation of NOK 112 million, an increase of NOK 70 million, for the construction of the first of two new border stations in Sør-Varanger, as well as an allocation of NOK 190 million to continue the construction of a new technology building at the University of Tromsø.
The Government will continue to provide funding for the Fram Centre, which will receive an allocation of NOK 37 million, and will earmark a further NOK 40 million to the Polar Research programme under the Research Council of Norway. NOK 90 million will be allocated to support the MAREANO programme for mapping of the seabed in Norwegian waters, while NOK 25 million is being allocated to follow up the national strategy for marine bioprospecting (research on marine organisms with scientific or commercial potential). NOK 40 million is being set aside for the continued mapping of mineral resources in North Norway and NOK 17 million for the development of tourism.