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Arctic Yearbook 2012
State of the Arctic Strategies and Policies – A Summary
The emphasis of the Report that Iceland is “the only country” located entirely within the
Arctic region is a strong response to the five (official) littoral states of the Arctic Ocean, and
a statement against the legitimacy of their ministerial meetings. This was made, if possible,
even more clear by the Parliament’s Resolution by securing “Iceland’s position as a coastal
State within the Arctic region” as well as the improvement of the wellbeing of Arctic
residents and their communities (Althingi, 2011: 1-2).
All in all, the Report first indicates a growing interest towards the Arctic region and second
highly emphasizes an importance of international, multilateral cooperation in general and
particularly dealing with research, monitoring and higher education. The policy of
emphasizing Northern cooperation has been part of mainstream Icelandic foreign policy for
some time and appears successful, and is subsequently supported both by the Report and the
Parliamentary Resolution. Finally, both the Report and the Parliamentary Resolution can be
seen as reflections of and responses to significantly changing conditions in the Arctic region.
Norway’s High North Strategy
Norway’s policy in the Arctic region and Northern affairs has been defined by “The
Norwegian Government’s High North Strategy”. Its latest version “New Building Blocks in
the North” was launched in March 2009 (Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2009).
Norway was the first country in the 21
century to release its Arctic strategy and policy, since
in the early 2000s there was an expert report on Norway’s strategic interests and new policy
in the High North, “Mot nord! Utfordringer of muligheter I nordområdene” (Statens for
valtningstjeneste informasjonsforvaltning, 2003). “The Norwegian Government’s High
North Strategy”, launched for the first time in December 2006, explicitly sets out a directive
for the High North to become the Norwegian Government’s main area of focus. The 2009
Strategy was updated and concretized with figures of allocated budget money through annual
status reports.
The Norwegian Government’s High North Strategy itself is robust, with attention being
placed on topics related to the environment and climate, sovereignty and foreign policy,
development and business, monitoring and knowledge, and indigenous peoples and their
cultures. Within these sections are a number of policies, promises and intentions for the
Government of Norway to follow. It is clear that the intention of making the High North