- Development is created by people who live and work in the North. This strategy also ties domestic and foreign policy closer together.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg brought three government ministers along when presenting the Norwegian government's new High North Strategy (Document in Norwegian, editorial note) in Bodø, Norway today (Friday). Minister of Local Government and Modernization Jan Tore Sanner presented what may be said to be the essence of the new strategy – the fact that Northern Norway actually has a well-functioning society in place.
About the people in the north
- What is new in this strategy is the fact that it much more than before focuses on people in the north; on how to facilitate new jobs, new companies, strong local communities- and how we can strengthen the development so that Northern Norway too can become an engine for all of Norway, Sanner said. He emphasized the point that when the strategy facilitates sustainable development in the north, then that sustainability refers to much more than climate and environment.
- Climate and environment are a vital precondition, however, it is also about strong local communities, about profitable businesses. Good communities are built by the people who live and work in the region. The government's job is to be a good partner for companies, for local communities, for institutions – for people in the north.
Jan Tore Sanner also pointed out that the new strategy has not been worked out in the government offices, but rather in close cooperation with actors all over Northern Norway. This cooperation, according to Sanner, "resulted in among other the establishing of the regional High North Forum, simply because we need a platform for the good dialogue between central and regional/local authorities."
A few particular areas
The Minister of Local Government and Modernisation also stressed that the new High North Strategy does not contain all the government's policies in and about Northern Norway.
- We have pointed to some areas of opportunity, and some areas of particular challenges. This is about infrastructure, business policies, about knowledge and research. We need to develop the competences that the industry asks for, and we must contribute to young people's taking the education that the local businesses need. To do this, we need more cooperation projects between the knowledge clusters and the industry.
The whole education cycle
When there are too many young people today who do not finish their secondary education, we know that the challenge is not only about secondary education. We need to improve the whole cycle of education, from kindergarten to higher degrees, Jan Tore Sanner said.
More domestic policies
Prime Minister Erna Solberg argued that the new strategy allows more space for domestic policies than former High North strategies have done.
- Such a wholesome approach is key to create continuing growth in the High North. We need better interaction between foreign and domestic policies, so that these can pull in the same direction. The government wants to strengthen the emphasis on business development, research and education, infrastructure, security and preparedness in the North, Solberg said during the presentation.
Cooperation that works
Foreign Minister Børge Brende emphasized that Norway has been able to maintain what actually works in the cooperation between Norway and Russia, the people-to-people interaction, despite sanctions and counter-sanctions.
- It has never been a bilateral question, first and foremost, between Russia and Norway. It has rather been a European and international reaction to the fact that Russia does not respect public international law. When other things do not work, we must place our efforts where things actually work; such as cooperation about the environment, nuclear safety, clearing up old nuclear waste etcetera. The international conflicts we have experienced have not propagated into the North. The High North is a peaceful spot, and it shall remain so, Brende said.