New Building Blocks in the North (2009)

By Polar Research and Policy Initiative

Comment by Kristine Offerdal, research fellow at the IFS:
In December 2006 The Norwegian Government’s High North Strategy was released. The overall goal is to create sustainable growth and development in the High North according to three overarching principles: presence, activity and knowledge. Seven main policy priorities are set out:

  • exercise authority in the High North in a credible, consistent and predictable way
  • be at the forefront of international efforts to develop knowledge in and about the region
  • be the best steward of the environment and natural resources in the High North
  • provide a suitable framework for further development of petroleum activities
  • safeguard the livelihoods, traditions and cultures of indigenous peoplesdevelop people-to-people cooperation
  • strengthen cooperation with Russia

The strategy aims at reaching these goals through increased international collaboration on resource exploitation, environmental management and research. An active dialogue with neighbours, partners and allies, and particularly with Russia is the main method.

In its follow-up of the High North Strategy in March 2009, Nye byggesteiner i nord (New building blocks in the North), the main policy goals and methods are the same. The Government then takes the old strategy a step further by providing a broad range of concrete suggestions of measures to be taken within the following priority areas:

  • development of knowledge about climate change and environment
  • strengthening of maritime surveillance, emergency preparedness and security
  • encourage sustainable development of petroleum and renewable resources
  • contribute to land-based economic development
  • infrastructure development
  • continue a firm assertion of sovereignty and strengthen cross-border cooperation
  • secure the culture and livelihood of indigenous peoples

The new document provides a more dynamic definition of the High North concept than the strategy of 2006, which geographically, mainly included the Barents Sea area. The new document emphasizes that with more international collaboration in the region, “the High North” will become synonymous with “the circumpolar Arctic”.


In this document, the Government is presenting a series of strategic priority areas that will serve as new building blocks in the Government’s High North policy. Continuing to pursue this policy will put us in a better position to meet the great challenges related to climate and environmental change, and to seize the opportunities in the north.

The Government’s further High North efforts are intended to enhance Norway’s ability to exercise sovereignty and promote sustainable management of renewable and non-renewable resources. Economic activity based on the region’s own resources will be essential in se- curing welfare and employment in the region. Business and industry, research and other activity in the north will help to secure a Norwegian presence by maintaining settlement patterns, and will thereby also strengthen Norway’s exercise of sovereignty in the region. The High North Strategy is furthermore intended to ensure that the area’s strategic location is exploited to the benefit of society as a whole, and that Northern Norway’s comparative advantages are used to promote economic growth and value creation in North- ern Norway and the rest of the country.

The Government’s High North policy is additional to its general rural and regional policy and to various sector policies. All of this will help to maintain settlement patterns in the north and promote development that is conducive to cooperation with other countries and respects the rights of indigenous peoples.

See full strategy.

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