Local and regional representatives of the circumpolar Arctic point out one significant joint challenge: Educated people leave the area, or go away to receive education and do not return again.
- It is very interesting to hear that so many people speak of the brain drain from the north. It only goes to show how important it is for Norway to have the two universities in Northern Norway, says Undersecretary Grete Ellingsen (Conservatives) of the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation.
Because they do have a lot in common, smaller and large communities in the north. Whether they speak American, Norwegian, Greenlandic or Swedish.
The Norwegian government thinks that there is an unreleased potential in more cooperation on local and regional levels. Therefore, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and others, hosted a debate about this topic during Arctic Frontiers on Monday.
- The sizeable interest for this seminar indicates that it is a theme of interest to many, says Ellingsen.
Need for cross-level meetings
It is the first time that the LGM Department organizes a seminar with a regional starting point during this conference, and Ellingsen hopes that this is just the beginning of the dialogue about the role of the regions in the Arctic cooperation.
She has noted many contributions during the debate and in particular noted the need for elected representatives to meet across the different levels of governance.
- It is all about people
Department Director Vincent Fleischer of the LGM emphasizes that it is about the people who live in the north.
- That is the starting point; we want this to be about the people who live here. When we talk about development in the Arctic, it is about the people, not just about increased use. If we are to facilitate sustainable use of the Arctic, we must have people there who know how, says Fleischer.
Fleischer and Ellingsen both talk about the international change they are seeing, where there is increasing amount of talk about the people who live in the north.
A meeting of mayors from across the circumpolar Arctic is scheduled for the Arctic Council’s Ministerial Meeting in Alaska in May this year, exactly in order to discuss cooperation and co-determination from the local levels.