The High North is Norway’s most important foreign policy area. The Government intends to pursue an ambitious High North policy, giving priority to knowledge-based business development, innovation and entrepreneurial activity.
‘We are moving from dialogue to action in the north. We intend to take our High North policy a step further by strengthening the link between knowledge and business development. In the budget for 2015, we are seeking to promote the development of knowledge that will provide a basis for future business activity in the north. In order to ensure that economic activity is carried out in a responsible manner, we will also strengthen our emergency preparedness and environmental efforts,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The Government proposes an allocation of NOK 3 billion for High North activities in 2015, an increase of NOK 648 million from 2014. Norway’s High North efforts are broad-based, and range from international cooperation, knowledge development and business development to infrastructure, emergency preparedness and the environment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates the Government’s High North efforts.
NOK 40 million has been earmarked for the establishment of an oil spill preparedness and response base on the islands of Lofoten and Vesterålen. Allocations to fund Norway’s participation in the European satellite navigation system Galileo and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) are to be increased by NOK 26 million to a total of NOK 297 million. The Government proposes an increase in funding of NOK 3.5 million for BarentsWatch, the comprehensive monitoring and information system for large parts of the world’s northern seas, bringing the total allocation to NOK 50 million.
Increased value creation
‘A focus on knowledge-based business development will help to increase value creation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The seafood industry, the maritime sector, the tourism industry and space-related activities are important areas for business development in the north. Most of Norway’s valuable mineral resources are in the north. In addition, the petroleum industry is moving northwards and this is having substantial spin-off effects in Norway’s northernmost counties,’ Mr Brende said.
The Government therefore proposes an increase in funding of NOK 5 million for geological surveying in the High North, bringing the total allocation to NOK 60 million. NOK 35 million is being set aside for the continued mapping of mineral resources in North Norway. The Government will also continue to provide funding for research on the impacts of climate change on fish stocks, the management of marine resources, and the monitoring of pollutants (with a combined allocation of NOK 21.5 million). It will also continue to provide funding for the Polar Research programme under the Research Council of Norway (NOK 45 million), and for measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (NOK 45 million).
‘Foreign policy and domestic policy converge in the High North. International cooperation in the High North has produced good results in a number of areas such as maritime safety, fisheries management, the environment, nuclear safety and people-to-people cooperation. The Government therefore proposes to continue to provide funding for projects in the High North and for project cooperation with Russia, with an allocation of NOK 381 million,’ Mr Brende said.