Norway to spend more in the north
The High North remains the Norwegian Government’s most important strategic priority area. A record increase in funding of about NOK 530 million has therefore been proposed for a range of measures in the High North in 2010, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“This is a project with a time horizon of generations, Since 2006 we have increased funding for our efforts in the High North by more than NOK 1.5 billion, and with these allocations we have made substantial progress,” Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented.
In the Government’s budget proposal for 2010, funding for a number of areas will be significantly increased, particularly value creation, knowledge-building and the environment. It includes an increase of NOK 112 million for emergency tugboat services in the north, NOK 50 million for onshore value creation, NOK 19 million for marine bioprospecting, NOK 17 million for the establishment of a centre for climate and environmental research in Tromsø and NOK 126 million for space-related activities. The increased allocation for space-related activities will, through the Galileo system, help to provide better satellite navigation coverage in the High North. This will be useful in connection with business activity, shipping and air traffic, environmental safety and the exercise of authority.
The Government proposes to allocate NOK 55 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Barents 2020 programme for knowledge-building in the north. This is an increase of NOK 20 million compared with 2009.
The Foreign Minister added: “We are now seeing that a number of countries are directing their attention towards the north, not least because of the opportunities and challenges related to energy, maritime transport and climate change. Norway will continue to play a leading role in the High North in cooperation with our neighbours and allies in the north. The 2010 budget proposal aims to further strengthen these efforts.”
“Under the Barents 2020 programme, the Government is creating arenas for cooperation between Norwegian and foreign centres of expertise with a view to increasing our knowledge about the High North,” Mr Støre continued.
The Government’s efforts are based on the High North Strategy, which was presented on 1 December 2006. In March 2009 it presented New Building Blocks in the North, the next step in the Government’s High North Strategy. Seven priority areas are defined in this document, and specific projects are presented with a view to setting a new course for the Government’s High North efforts over the next 10–15 years. Together, the two documents set out a coherent, coordinated long-term policy for the High North.
The Government proposes to allocate NOK 300 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ budget to strengthen priority areas such as cooperation with Russia, the Barents cooperation and efforts under the Arctic Council. This figure includes the allocation for the Barents 2020 programme for knowledge-building in the north.
The proposal for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 2010 budget gives a full presentation of the Government’s increased allocations for High North efforts.