The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started preparing before taking over chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2023, having recently had its first out of some 60 input meetings. “The ocean, climate and environment, and sustainable development will be important”, says Norway’s Arctic Ambassador, SAO Morten Høglund.
Last week, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs started its work to prepare Norway’s chairmanship at the Arctic Council commencing next year.
The first out of a series of input meetings took place at the High North Center for Business and Governance at Nord University Business School, where Norway’s Ambassador to the Arctic Morten Høglund met a series of actors along with his deputy Ina Nygård Mossin.
“The conversations in Bodø is part of the input we are collecting for the program”, Høglund says when High North News meets him at the High North Center.
The first meeting
Høglund and Mossin work in the MFA’s division for the High North, Polar issues and resources, and Høglund has a.o. chaired the Norwegian parliament Stortinget’s delegation for Arctic parliamentary cooperation.
The visit to Bodø is part of the work leading up to the chairmanship and deciding what priorities Norway will make.
Høglund will meet with some 60 actors in the coming days, weeks, and months, both in education, research and business. The meeting with the High North Center was the first in-depth meeting in the run-up to the chairmanship period.
What will be Norway’s focus during its chairmanship?
“The ocean, climate, environment, economic development, and population growth. A viable industry. These are key areas”, Høglund says.
He says it is too soon to say much more at this early stage.
Program by October
“The work process ahead will consist of collecting information and knowledge that we will pass on to the ministry. After that, the government is to make the final decision, and a draft chairmanship program is to be processed by the government in October”, Høglund says.
No member of the Arctic Council will argue that other members should be overrun
The MFA will spend some of the time ahead strengthening the team that is to work on the program.
Will Norway’s chairmanship relate to the EU’s demand about leaving all oil and gas in the Arctic in the ground?
“There will always be issues of disagreement within the Arctic Council, and we follow the guidelines provided by the Norwegian government. No membership state will argue that other members should be overruled. That would be destructive for cooperation”, the Arctic Ambassador says in closing.
Director at the High North Center Frode Mellemvik was well pleased with being the first stop on the MFA’s input round.
“Morten Høglund and Ina Nygård Mossin’s visit gave us an opportunity to tell them both about what we do and about plans for further development, as well as establishing a good dialogue with them regarding some of what is to happen during the Norwegian chairmanship period from 2023 to 2025. We look forward to the entire period and to the many opportunities such a chairmanship provides for everyone concerned with the High North”, Mellemvik says.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.