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Barents Rescue 2009 and emergency preparedness in the High North

Category: Latest
Created on Friday, 04 September 2009 14:32

Expert commentOn September 8-10 the international Barents Rescue 2009 exercise was held. The exercise is intended to increase practical cooperation on search and rescue (SAR) and handling of acute pollution. The High North comprises vast areas that have a harsh climate and little infrastructure. Conducting rescue operations with scarce resources is challenging and demands multilateral cooperation. The biannual Barents Rescue exercise is a productive initiative. But are we sufficiently prepared to manage the increased activity in the High North?

Norwegian interests

Category: Newsflash
Created on Thursday, 16 October 2008 13:44

All the research topics in the programme deal with the issue of Norwegian interest. This notwithstanding, there is a need to synthesise the consequences and lessons generated by the findings of the other research topics. 

The following main research problems will be addressed, based on findings from the other research topics:

  • What are the perceived interests of Norway in the High North, as seen from main Norwegian decision makers? What kinds of traditions guide these perceptions?
  • How does Norway pursue national interests in the complex geopolitical environment of the High North today? How are Norwegian interests perceived by other main players in the region?
  • Should Norwegian interests and priorities be adjusted in view of current geopolitical developments? Is there a potential for new thinking concerning political tools, cooperative architecture and strategic alliances?

The High North has been defined as Norway’s most important strategic priority area in the years ahead.

The Norwegian Government's Strategy for the High North (2006)
New Building Blocks in the North. The next step in the Government's High North Strategy (2009)
Opportunities and Challenges in the North, Report No. 30 to the Storting (2005)
The Ministry of Foreign Affair's High North web site

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".


On Svalbard and the surrounding maritime areas, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Background and legal issues - frequently asked questions 
Continental shelf - questions and answers 
Spørsmål og svar om kontinentalsokkelen (in Norweigan)


The Norwegian Government has established an expert group on High North issues. The group will work to identify opportunities for the northern regions ofNorway and the rest of the country following the increased strategic importance of the High North.

The group of 18 persons from business, politics, cultural life and academia will be advising the Foreign Ministry on the development of the Norwegian Government’s High North policy. The expert group is particularly to identify opportunities for international cooperation in the Barents region, with Nordic partners, the EU and Arctic states.

Read more about the expert group, including its mandate, at the web site of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in norwegian). 



During the autumn in 2010, the Norwegian interests in the Arctic was the topic for the Norwegian Minister of Defence and the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs. 
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Norwegian Institute for defence Studies CSIS Fritjof Nansen Institute Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik University of Tromsø Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the MFA of Russia University of Oslo Institute of general history Norwegian Defence Research Establishment Econ Pöyry
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