Making Norway a more attractive destination for careers, culture, commerce, and creativity is the foundation of the Norwegian government’s “High North Report.”‘
The report, released on November 27, calls for the creation of more vibrant communities, towns, and cities throughout Northern Norway, actively reversing the recent demographic decline.
This is part of the government’s long-term strategy to “develop Northern Norway as a strong, viable, and highly competent region,” according to Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Soreide.
A shift to a knowledge-based, and more technologically savvy economy, a greater focus on sustainability in the business and tourism sectors, and creating a more vibrant cultural scene are hoped to help people and money flow to Northern Norway.
Recent population trends alarming
With some 9% of Norwegians living above the Arctic Circle, it is of vital strategic and economic importance that Northern Norway becomes more populated.
An aging population (the next decade will see a 32% increase in people aged 67 older) coupled with the dire economic impacts of COVID-19 on the education and tourism sectors – important employers in the Northern economy – has seen a net population decline this year.
Education, technology, sustainability, and youth input
The report identifies several key features of the government’s strategy to entice people, and jobs, to flow North.
Some NOK 200 million will be spent this year to not only create a more flexible, decentralized, and accessible tertiary education system but also to provide more student places and staff.
Several schemes to write off a certain amount of student debt for teachers or students who then gain employment in the region are underway.
The creation of a better technological environment is hoped to lure national and international companies to use the region as a base.
The digitization of government services and greater investment for innovation and technology-based small and medium-size businesses will help to create more employment opportunities.
Effects of climate change
With Northern Norway experiencing firsthand the daily effects of climate change, a greater focus on sustainability will help diversify and modernize traditional industries like fishing, energy, and tourism.
The creation of “Youth councils” for every municipality will help diversify representation in decision making.
There is a hope that these decisions will be made in tune with the desire and needs of the people this region so desperately needs.
Finally, the selection of Bodo as the European Capital City of Culture in 2024 is seen as a landmark to launch a Northern cultural renaissance.
Furthermore, Sami linguistic and culinary traditions will be better taught and promoted, at home and abroad, to ensure there is more to Northern Norway than just the sky.
Source: Norway Today