We delved deeper into five topical themes that are priorities in the programme for the Finnish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2021 – Nordic solutions for:
- Gender equality
- Freedom of Movement
- Circular economy
- Freedom of expression
What do we want the Nordic Region to look like in the future and what do we need to do to become the most integrated and sustainable region in the world?
Tuesday 23 Mars 2021 | 12:00–19:00 CET
The Nordic countries are currently debating how threats and hate speech threaten to silence voices in the digital public sphere. Online abuse has become part of everyday life. It is so widespread that it constitutes a threat to democracy if people who are abused, subjected to hate speech and threatened on line are too afraid to speak up.
In 2021, the Nordic Council’s Committee for Welfare in the Nordic Region is focusing explicitly on digital abuse and online threats from a gender equality perspective. If anything, the topic has become even more relevant during the pandemic.
Politicians, researchers, organisations and young people will discuss in more detail how the Nordic countries can make the Internet a safer place. Promoting equality is an important part of Nordic co-operation and of the prime ministers’ vision of a socially sustainable and equal region.
The theme will be discussed from Finnish, Ålandic, Swedish and Norwegian perspectives.
Has the Nordic Council of Ministers’ ambition of removing 8-12 barriers to cross-border freedom of movement per annum in the labour market, social security, education and business been put on pause by COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns? Is the Nordic gold – trusting each other – being replaced by a growing distrust and fear of each other? And if so, what should be done about it? Politicians, individuals and organisations will debate these questions in greater detail.
Freedom of movement is a key priority for Nordic co-operation and part of the efforts to fulfil the vision outlined by the prime ministers to make the Nordic Region the most integrated region in the world. This will also be on the agenda, from a Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic and – in particular – Nordic perspective.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up all sorts of challenges – in day-to-day life, for the economy, entrepreneurship, education, culture, welfare and international co-operation, including in the Nordic Region.
The Finnish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2021 stressed the importance of Nordic co-operation in its programme for the year, calling it absolutely essential. A survey conducted in January by the Nordic Association in Sweden shows that the expectations placed on Nordic co-operation have increased considerably during the pandemic.
The Finnish programme also calls for a bio-based and circular economy. The event will take an in-depth look at Nordic co-operation from the perspective of the need to work together in times of crisis and where we go from here. It will also address the demand for joint solutions for a sustainable Nordic Region, particularly for a circular economy.
What should the Nordic countries do to guarantee informed and free debate, even during a pandemic?
Freedom of expression is a prerequisite for the open and democratic societies in the Nordic Region. The Nordic countries are always at the top of the Reporters Without Borders’ annual World Press Freedom Index, and the general public enjoys access to facts and information about the basis on which officials and politicians make decisions. The Region is renowned for open debate and dialogue, including criticism of official bodies.
Despite this reputation, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the temperature in debates where the tone was already harsh and hateful, a development that is putting democratic dialogue and freedom of expression under pressure. Fake news and misinformation abound online. In Sweden, threats have forced a paediatrician to stop conducting research into COVID-19. What happens to freedom of expression during a pandemic?
What can be done, and how big a problem is this for the Nordic Region and public debate? Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of Nordic life. How do we maintain and develop it after the pandemic?
The panel will discuss all of these issues and more on Nordic Day.
What role has culture played in Nordic co-operation since the Council of Ministers was established fifty years ago? What impact has COVID-19 had on cultural life in the Nordic Region? What role will culture play in the Nordic co-operation of the future? Politicians, people from the region and representatives of cultural life will discuss these issues in greater detail.
Cultural co-operation is a cornerstone of Nordic co-operation and is an important part of the vision to make the Nordic Region the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. The Nordic House in Reykjavik and the Nordic Association in Iceland are hosting a debate about the value of Nordic culture and cultural co-operation in the past, present and future.