“Norway is a responsible actor and a sought-after partner in the High North. The fact that our political visions are followed up through annual budget allocations enhances our credibility at the international level,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
The total budget for High North activities for 2014 is close to NOK 2.5 billion, an increase of approximately NOK 300 million from the previous year.
“Knowledge development is at the heart of the High North policy. The budget for 2014 further reinforces this,” Mr Eide said.
The Government proposes an allocation of NOK 12 million for a project that involves allowing the research vessel Lance to freeze into the pack ice. The vessel will then drift with the ice in a south-westerly direction, and measurements will be taken underway.
“The freezing of the research vessel Lance into the ice is an important project that will help improve current climate and meteorological models,” Mr Eide said.
New priority activities in the budget proposal for 2014 include an initial allocation of NOK 50 million for a new medicine and health studies building at the University in Tromsø and a start-up allocation of NOK 25 million for a new building for the Fram Centre (Fram – High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment) in Tromsø.
Increased funding for existing activities
Several other existing projects will also receive more funding. The Government proposes to increase the allocation for a new ice-class research vessel by NOK 225 million to NOK 300 million. It also proposes to increase funding for a new geodetic observatory in Ny-Ålesund for measuring changes and movements in the Earth by NOK 19.4 million to NOK 65 million. NOK 163 million is to be set aside to enhance helicopter capacity and to acquire a new search and rescue vessel for the Governor of Svalbard, and it is proposed that the allocation to the search and rescue helicopter base at Bardufoss be increased to NOK 3.5 million. The Government also proposes to increase funding for geological surveying in the eastern part of the Barents Sea, around Jan Mayen and in the north-eastern Norwegian Sea (to NOK 130 million). It also proposes an increase in funding for the European satellite navigation system Galileo and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) to NOK 211 million.
The Government will continue its funding for the Research Initiative for Northern Norway (Nordsatsing) (NOK 44 million), the Mareano programme (NOK 92 million) and BarentsWatch (NOK 47 million). NOK 40 million is being set aside for the continued mapping of mineral resources in North Norway and NOK 45 million for measures to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ budget proposal for 2014 gives a full presentation of the Government’s High North activities.