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High North Dialogue 2015
March 17, 2015 @ 8:00 am - March 19, 2015 @ 5:00 pm
The High North Dialogue Conference is an annual event that brings together major interested parties concerned with Arctic development, including politicians and heads of administration from central governments in all Arctic States, major extractive industry leaders, and representatives from fishing communities, academia, local communities, indigenous people, local politicians and other important stakeholders. The focus of the conference is dialogue: the dialogue between young people and the Arctic regions’ representatives from industry – ranging from maritime to land‐based industry, authorities and academics to share information and discuss the best practices in order to tackle challenges in the region.
In 2015, the main topic of the tenth High North Dialogue Conference was “The Arctic in a global perspective”, with a special focus on Arctic Business & Security. For more information on the history of former conferences, please visit www.highnorthdialogue.com.
Anne Kari Ovind, Deputy Director General, Head of the Department for Security Policy and the High North, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, summed up High North Dialogue 2015. The speaker highlighted and summarized the key issues previously discussed in the Conference
The Arctic region covers only 8% of the Earth’s surface and has only four million inhabitants, yet its enormous resource potential attracts the focus of the whole world community. The Conference focused on the future of this region with its challenges and opportunities. As the Arctic region is in the sphere of interest of many countries and is becoming more globalized and exposed to development activities, it is vitally important to understand how this influence affects the Arctic and its inhabitants.
The key message of the Conference, according to the speaker, is the presence of various Arctics. This is due to the varying conditions throughout the region in terms of climate, retreat of the sea ice and intensity of human activity. It also means that the security concept is not universal for the whole of the High North. Preserving the unique structure of the Arctic, with its great potential for future generations, is only possible through multilateral conversation and overall cooperation. Ms. Ovind observed that there are different approaches concerning further development of the Arctic. Some argue that 2/3 of hydrocarbons should remain in the ground, while others promote risk management as the only way forward. However, what we should understand is that “it is not enough to use the Arctic, we should use it wisely.”
Norwegian interest in the North Region lies in sustainable development of this region, promoted by scientific research and innovation. Here the University of Nordland and the High North Center play an important role in producing knowledge and international cooperation. All in all, the speakers agree that, in a time of geopolitical instability, it is very important to secure business activities in the Arctic. These include safe development of the region in terms of peaceful cooperation, stability and respect for international law and universal principles.
The Arctic Council represents a successful example of a legal framework that manages to address Arctic issues and keep up its good work in maintaining low tension and providing sustainable development of this region. She concluded by citing Fridtjof Nansen: “The greatest thing in human life is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving”. Norway and other Arctic countries take responsibility as Arctic nations, with a focus on low tension, sustainable development, value creation and welfare for our people in the North.