High North Dialogue: No Dialogue, No Finding Best Solutions

Dr. Robert Corell
Last year’s award winner Dr. Robert Correl adressing the High North Dialogue 2019. Photo: High North Center (HNC)

On 19 March, the fifth High North Hero is to be awarded at the High North Dialogue in Bodø, Norway. With former winners including a former prime minister and a world-class scientist, the award’s symbol is an important contribution to development and creativity in the High North.

Former High North Hero Winners

2019 – Robert Corell, scientist

2018 – Mary Simon, diplomat and indigenous rights activist

2017 – Scott Minerd, Investor

2016 – Paavo Lipponen, Former PM of Finland

“Dialogue is decisive for finding joint solutions and solving conflicts”, says Director of the High North Center for Business and Governance (HNC), Frode Mellemvik.

That is why the HNC organizes the High North Dialogue conference in Bodø, Norway on 18-19 March. While the program includes a series of keynote speakers from various sectors, the High North Hero Award will also be handed out at the event.

The award goes to an organization or a person who has contributed to creation of wealth and growth in the Arctic. Former winners include politics, business, indigenous rights and science. There have been a series of good candidates over years for the award, and these days the decision will be made as to who will become this year’s High North Hero.

Important symbol

There are several reasons why the High North Hero awards is important. While the award goes to important contributors for the High North, it is an important symbol that emphasizes the importance of the High North.

When a former Finnish prime minister has spent a lot of time on the High North, it signalizes that what goes on here is exciting.  
Frode Mellemvik, Director of the High North Center

“The award is important in signaling that there are quite a few people who for years have worked for the High North to develop even stronger and getting even better. It is a way of signaling internationally that the High North matters. When a former Finnish prime minister has spent a lot of time on the High North, it signalizes that what goes on here is exciting”, Mellemvik says.

The committee consists of Anu Fredrikson (chair), Laurence C. Smith, Finn Roar Aamodt, Indra Øverland, Elena Vladimirovna Kudryashova, marina Kalinina, Sergey Vasiliev and Arne O. Holm.

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Gave the award money back

All award winners receive a symbolic sum of NOK 50,000 ($ 5,400). When American billionaire investor Scott Minerd won the award in 2017, he returned the money and said it should go to motivating young entrepreneurs.

Boken «International Arctic Petroleum Cooperation – Barents Sea scenarios» handler om framtidstanker omkring Norsk-Russiske muligheter og utfordringer Barentshavet. Forskere fra Universitetet i Stavanger, Bodø og Moskva, Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt (NUPI) og Aquaplan Niva har i et historisk sett unikt samarbeid på tvers av to kulturer, sett på tre ulike fremtidsbilder i Barentshavet. Frode Mellemvik, Anatoli Bourmistrov og Alexei Bambulyak diskuterer forskningen.  (Foto: Christine karijord
Frode Mellemvik (center) with Anatoly Bourmistrov (left) and Alexei Bambulyak. (Archive photo: Christine Karijord)

“We ended up using that money to create the ‘High North Young Entrepreneurs’ award the following year, an award that Innovation Norway has later chosen to support”, says Mellemvik.

Scott Minerd og Anu Fredriksson
Scott Minerd was awarded the High North Hero 2017 award, presented to him by chair of the committee Anu Fredrikson (Photo: Hege Eilertsen)
Former award winner Scott Minerd during the High North Dialogue 2017, here pictured with the leader of the High North Hero award committee, Anu Fredrikson. (Archive photo: Hege Eilertsen)

The conference is not just an award show; the whole purpose of High North Dialogue is to invite to dialogue. In that way one will not only find the best solutions; one will broaden people’s horizons with important knowledge.

“We care most about people, society and business, and that requires dialogue”, Mellemvik says.

“Dialogue is important in and of itself, in particular when there are conflicts of interest or actors are at loggerheads. Many industries such as fisheries, oil, tourism and the energy interest can, generally speaking, have conflicts of interest. It is then important to address what the genuine conflict consists of. Sometimes it is more about perceived conflicts, which are also important to address, but dialogue will bring out the perspectives”, he continues.

The young are the future

At least half the conference attendees are young adults; some are master degree students, others are involved through a leading labor union’s youth organization, LO Ungdom [LO Youth]. The latter also has its own event in relation to the conference.

“We want as many young people as possible, because they are the future. It is important that they are aware of the various perspectives out there. If you are very concerned about the environment, for instance, it is important to know that some of those creating jobs also are.”

Sometimes it is more about perceived conflicts, which are also important to address, but dialogue will bring out the perspectives  
Frode Mellemvik, Director of the High North Center
Former Finnish Prime Minister and 2017 High North Hero Paavo Lipponen. Photo: Stortinget/The Norwegian Parliament

“This also applies to those operating in for instance mining or tourism. Even though there may be things over which you disagree with your counterpart, you will learn more and find better solutions through dialogue. When you only speak with people whose minds are like your own, you miss out on information vital for that with which you are working. Dialogue creates understanding”, Mellemvik says in closing.


This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.