Mayor of Svalbard Christin Kristoffersen and President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. (Photo: Hege Eilertsen)
The Mayor of Svalbard Christin Kristoffersen photographed at the Arctic Circle 2014 with the President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. (Photo: Hege Eilertsen)

Confident Show Off of the Arctic Landmark

Reykjavik, Iceland: A rather small, but robust and pretty confident society, with people living and thriving next to the North pole. There is Svalbard for you, in a nutshell.

The Mayor of Svalbard, Christin Kristoffersen, gave the full version about the huge Island that is a part of the kingdom of Norway as she spoke to hundreds of participants at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik this weekend.

In the plenary session she left them with no doubt that Svalbard is planning to grasp the opportunities that will be offered by the new Arctic.

– We will create sustainable growth through further developing our current activities, and we will establish new businesses, Kristoffersen says.

Unique Arctic experience

The Mayor of the worlds northernmost town had an excellent opportunity to tell the hundreds of participants about Longyearbyens position and opportunities in an Arctic marked, and she sure did.

– We will develop Longyearbyen into an even more robust society, she states.

There are only around 2600 people living at Svalbard, but there are plenty of researchers there, and the society is a mix of people from all around the globe.

Whaling, sealing and trapping has been important for centuries, and the first coal mining started in 1906. These days many of the people who lives there offer a unique Arctic experience both when it comes to industrial operations, logistics, travel and leisure, arctic research and higher education.

The society at 78 degrees North is both viable and sustainable. But as many other in the Arctic, Kristoffersen sees several issues that need to be handled with as the Arctic is rapidly changing.  The increased climate concern, the increased geopolitical interest, more maritime traffic and a need for more natural resources are just some of them.

– Must guard and defend our position

– Its fun to be here and get to talk about how we in a local perspective orients us into the overall perspectives, Kristoffersen says.

The Mayor of Svalbard was one of few Norvegian speakers at this years Arctic Circle, held at the Harpa Conferencecenter in Reykjavik.

– An eventual possibility for the missing Norwegian presence here in Reykjavik is Arctic Frontiers, and that people might prioritize that instead. That’s a valuable thought because it is a very good conference. However, it is unfortunately possible that this indicates a weakening of both interest andunderstanding of the value of the North, and if that is the case it is very disturbing.

– We see that both Svalbard and the rest of Norway’s position is invaluable for the development in the Arctic, not least because of our knowledge, both practical and scientific. We are struggling today with our efforts on mineral and mining, amongst others. When we see the challenges in the oil and gas industry this alone clearly should show that the opportunities we have must be worked out, they will not necessarily get by just by themselves. And not least; we have a position we should guard and defend, Kristoffersen says to High North News.

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