Newsletter: Focusing on the Arctic

Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Oslo Sharon Hudson-Dean (left) spoke about the new US policy for the Arctic during a debate at "Arendalsuka" in southern Norway. The debate was moderated by High North News Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm (right). (Photo: Screenshot from Arendalsuka).
The USA’s Arctic strategies have been presented, one after the other. Now diplomacy follows suit in its search for new cooperation forums.

In Norway, the Arendal Week was greenlighted this year after last year’s fully digital event. The debates in the South Norwegian town of Arendal have filled national news this week, and our Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm moderated a debate about the Arctic, geopolitics and the climate – to mention but one event.

It was something liberating about seeing participants on stage – despite their observing social distancing rules – debating the High North face to face.

One of the debates focused on Norway’s relationship to Russia, the USA, NATO and the EU. Researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) Karsten Friis refuted the myth that the Arctic is wild and lawless, despite increased military activity.

Holm also met the newly appointed US Chargé d’Affaires at the American embassy in Oslo, Sharon Hudson-Dean.

“The USA takes the whole Arctic region very seriously”, Hudson-Dean assured the audience, and confirmed that the USA is redirecting its focus towards the Arctic.

Election and taxes

In Norway, the election campaign before the parliamentary election on 13 September is well underway, and the issue list includes the much-debated wealth tax.

Associate Professor Erlend Bullvåg at Nord University Business School joined the debate, arguing that wealth tax is destructive for successful business leaders. (Norwegian only)

Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm, from his corner, argues that making the question of wealth tax a winning issue in an election campaign otherwise focused on social inequality and climate is a daring move.

Add a glaring lack of qualified workers, and you find some of the explanation for the Conservative’s distinct decline in Northern Norway”, Holm argues in this week’s commentary.

Tourism survived

The pandemic has taken its toll on more than people’s health, however, Visit Iceland CEO Sigridur Dogg Gudmundsdottir is pleased with how the Icelandic government has managed the pandemic so far.

We have had a somewhat normal life despite the pandemic. There was never a complete lockdown or total restrictions and closed borders", Gudmundsdottir says, even though the island state is currently facing high infection rates.

Other news this week:
Novatek is planning to build a wind power park in order to reduce the carbon footprint of an LNG plant at the Arctic Circle, and researchers use robots to find out how glaciers in Svalbard are melting.

And in Canada, the Armed Forces are exercising on land, at sea and in the air as a part of the pan-territorial Operation Nanook exercise.

Thank you for following us, and do tip us off about what happens in your part of the Arctic!

Best regards,
Trine Jonassen,
News Editor, High North News