Arctic Yearbook 2012
the focal area of interest for the Government in the years to come requires a commitment
from all levels and sectors of government, and is thus an embracement from the country as a
whole. Particularly so, when its main focus is on (North-West) Russia.
An interesting notion is how the Norwegian Strategy uses, consistently and stubbornly, the
term ‘High North’: in the 2006 Strategy the High North is described as a “broad concept
both geographically and politically” (Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2006: 13),
though it really refers to the Barents Sea and the surrounding areas, including Svalbard, and
has a particular focus on Russia. Although the 2009 Strategy claims that the High North is
without a precise definition in the Norwegian political debate, the horizon of the term is
“broader than Northern Norway and Svalbard since Norway has major interests to safeguard
in a greater region” which is claimed to be “really a Norwegian perspective (Norwegian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2009: 50).
The 2009 High North Strategy largely continues the chosen Norwegian policy features but
with a focus on business development, and on knowledge and the environment. It includes
seven advanced strategic priority areas: first, to develop knowledge about climate change and
the environment in the High North; second, to improve monitoring, emergency response
and maritime safety systems in northern waters; third, to promote sustainable use of off-
shore petroleum and renewable marine resources; fourth, to promote on-shore business
development in the North; fifth, to further develop the infrastructure in the North; sixth, to
continue to exercise sovereignty firmly and strengthen cross-border cooperation (with
Russia) in the North; and finally, to safeguard the cultures and livelihoods of indigenous
This document is comprehensive and includes many fields of politics, issues and strategic
areas with concrete goals of both internal and external affairs. Actually, it does this more so
than is usual in foreign policy; an advanced strategy with a follow-up system to further long-
term Norwegian policy in the North, particularly by the (current) government coalition.
Furthermore, the High North is given a place ‘at the top’ as the most important strategic
priority area of Norway with a growing recognition of the importance of the North for
Norway as a whole. Consequently, the High North Strategy with its main political priorities
plays an important role.