Arctic Yearbook 2012
Though Sweden has substantially contributed to polar research efforts for more than a
hundred years (SWEDARCTIC and SWEDARP, 2011-2015), there have not been many
political statements or speeches by Swedish politicians on the Arctic – one of the few is the
speech by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at the AC ministerial meeting in 2009 (Bildt, 2009).
Taking this into consideration, it can be taken as something of an achievement that Sweden
was ultimately able to prepare, adapt and launch an Arctic strategy by the time of its
adoption of the AC Chairmanship. This might also partly explain why the document is rather
traditional, without surprises or special emphasis on any particular theme. Conventionality,
however, it could also be taken as a mark of strength, insofar as the Strategy is
straightforward and clear on its priorities.
Sweden was, however, one of the founding states of the current international cooperative
body on Arctic matters, i.e. the AC. Historically, Sweden has natural and strong ties linking it
to the Arctic region, as is mentioned in the Strategy, both geographically and
demographically, and a strong record of Arctic research. Sweden is also an active member in
many forums and organizations, such as the AC, the EU, the Nordic Council of Ministers,
BEAR/BEAC; the United Nations and its conventions (e.g. UNCLOS), agencies (e.g.
Convention on Biodiversity) and bodies (e.g. WHO) which demonstrates the importance it
gives to effective multilateral cooperation on the Arctic. Nonetheless, it has long been
Sweden’s policy to work actively with others in international organizations, though this is the
first time it applies to modern international Arctic cooperation.
The second half of the document is all about the three priorities, which are neither surprising,
nor that the climate and environment are the priorities to be mentioned first. The fact that
there are only three priorities shows that Sweden’s Arctic strategy is one of the most focused
of the Arctic strategies; all the same, each strategy comes with a rather long list of objectives.
The first priority is “Climate and the Environment” and of particular interest and
importance in this connection is biodiversity. In the second priority, “Economic
development” Sweden is looking to pursue many business and economic interests in (the
free trade area of) the Arctic and Barents Region, such as “Mining, petroleum and forestry”.
Rather surprisingly, the strategy emphasizes petroleum in the Barents Sea region, even more
than mining which has been, and remains, the cornerstone industry of Northern Sweden.
Sweden will also be seeking or planning to promote economically, socially and