West Nordic development strategy in the works

17.11.14 | News
Nes, Hvalba
Erik Christensen, Nes, Hvalba
The Nordic Council of Ministers for Regional Policies met on 12 November in Iceland and launched work on a new development strategy for the West Nordic Region, which includes a greater focus on bioeconomy in Nordic regional co-operation.

The Nordic co-operation programme for regional development focuses on sustainable welfare development, a sustainable business strategy in the Arctic and, in particular, green growth.

Based on a recommendation from OECD and on the work done in the regional sector in the Nordic Council of Ministers, a new development strategy for the West Nordic Region will now supplement the co-operation programme.

The goal is to create more effective co-operation around areas of strategic development and ensure better use of resources given to existing projects in the region, which consists of Greenland, the Faroe Island, Iceland and the coastal areas of Norway.

According to the OECD, it is important to focus on sustainable development in the fishing sector, economic diversification and an improved communication network, as well as increased co-operation to meet climate challenges.

The Nordic Council of Ministers' body for Nordic Atlantic Co-operation, NORA, will be one of the focal points for the strategy, in co-operation with the organisations, regions and countries in the North Atlantic.

Bioeconomy on the agenda

At the same time as the ministerial meeting, the Nordic Council of Ministers' institution for regional development, Nordregio, held a well-attended conference on the development of the Nordic bioeconomy and regional innovation.

"There is a shift underway in regard to the new bioeconomy, but how should we meet it. Should we be reactive and concerned about costs or proactive and seize the new opportunities", said the Secretary General for the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dagfinn Høybråten in his speech at the conference.

He referred especially to the transition from a fossil-based economy to a bio-based one, with focus on a more sustainable but at the same time innovative and more cross-sectoral use of natural resources.

The Arctic and new opportunities

At a conference on Arctic bioeconomy the day before the ministerial meeting, the 'father' of the EU work on bioeconomy, Christian Patermann, stated clearly that bioeconomy opens up new opportunities. 

In the West Nordic Region in particular, with its huge fishing sector and great opportunities in aquaculture and other sectors within bioeconomy, there is considerable potential for development, the conference stressed.

"There is a great need for a common strategy and a regional policy forum, not least to explore the opportunities across the sectors and strengthen regional and local development", underlined the project manager for the Nordic Council of Minsters' work with bioeconomy in the Arctic, Sigrún Elsa Smáradóttir, who welcomed the new strategy for West Nordic co-operation.

The development strategy will now be discussed in the Committee of Senior Officials for Regional Policy up to the next ministerial meeting in 2015 and the finalisation of the strategy in 2016.