Scotland’s first Arctic Policy Framework launched to boost Scottish-Arctic links
Scotland’s first arctic policy has been launched in Orkney, with the aim of developing links between Scotland and the North.
Focusing on areas such as education, research, culture, minority languages, rural issues, climate change and key industries such as fishing, oil and gas, agriculture and shipping, Arctic Connections: Scotland’s Arctic policy framework looks to promote greater collaboration and shared learning.
There is no universally agreed definition of the Arctic, but the most common definition is the area north of the Arctic Circle line at 66° 33' 44" North latitude, which marks the point at which the sun does not set on the summer solstice or rise on the winter solstice.
The Arctic Council consists of eight countries with land areas north of the Arctic Circle: Norway, Sweden, Denmark (the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Iceland, Finland, Russia, the United States of America and Canada.
Countries with territories in the Arctic are major trade partners for Scotland, accounting for around 27.5 per cent of overseas exports in 2017 and they are the origin of nearly half of all foreign direct investments in Scotland.
Commitments include encouraging greater collaboration between Scottish and Arctic academic institutions in Arctic research, working with VisitScotland to draw up proposals for discussion on policies and practices that promote sustainable tourism, promoting new exchanges for young people between Scotland and the Arctic and sharing lessons on promoting indigenous and minority languages.
In the area of climate change, it includes sharing knowledge on marine pollution, exploring possibilities for shared learning on transport decarbonisation and community engagement around local energy generation.
The policy also covers fuel poverty, connectivity, island proofing, keeping young people in rural areas and health and wellbeing in rural communities.
Launching the policy at the Orkney Research and Innovation Campus in Stromness, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland remains an outward looking European nation, committed to positive relationships with both our European neighbours and those further afield, despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU.
“Scottish-Arctic partnerships have intensified over recent years, acknowledging that international challenges require international solutions.
“The launch of Arctic Connections creates opportunities to take forward key environmental and climate change work and strengthen trade and investment links in areas such as renewable energy as well as promoting Scotland as a well-placed marine transport and logistics hub.
“We will also use this launch to share Scotland’s world leading expertise in areas of shared interest such as safety commissioning and decarbonisation.
“As part of our offer to the High North, we are establishing a fund to support people-to-people links to help communities build Arctic relations and encourage Scottish universities to participate even closer with the University of the Arctic.
“We will promote knowledge exchange within digital heath care and education in remote areas and advance our cultural connections.
“The Arctic Policy Framework launch is the starting point in a new exciting era for Scottish-Arctic relations.
“Our commitment to the region is clear and I am determined that Scotland remains an active partner in facing both the challenges and opportunities our ever-changing world presents.”
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “The central focus on climate change in Scotland’s Arctic Policy Framework is to be very much welcomed.
“The Arctic is the front-line for climate change. The region has been warming at twice the global rate since the 1980s, and this year the Arctic is predicted to have the second lowest summer sea ice coverage on record.
“Climate change is having a profound impact on essential Arctic infrastructure, homes, livelihoods and the wildlife living there.
“Scotland is the Arctic’s nearest neighbour. If we’re to be good neighbours to our Arctic friends, then dealing with the climate crisis needs to be the priority in Scotland’s Arctic Policy Framework.”