Northern Sweden eyes an Arctic strategy of its own

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - November 9, 2016

The region of Norrbotten in the north of Sweden intends to take on a stronger role in Arctic affairs.

“So far, we have missed a regional anchoring in Arctic affairs,” Sweden’s Ambassador to the Arctic Council, Andres Jato, said as he paid a visit to the city of Luleå last week.

That is about to change now, the diplomat told the newspaper Affärer i Nord.

“Norrbotten is becoming a good example for all regions in the Arctic.”

Jato argues that regional efforts being made to combine economic development with environmental sustainability are unique. He especially refers to the ongoing moving of the mining town of Kiruna and plans by companies SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall to produce steel without use of coal.

“Let’s make Norrbotten to an Arctic role model. Norrbotten will become a leading Arctic region and show the world that the climate challenge can be combined with economic growth,” the ambassador told

Regional authorities in Norrbotten want the new document to serve as a political platform for Arctic development. It is elaborated by the Norrbotten regional council along with several of the municipalities in the region.

“There is a need for a stronger consciousness among us all about the fact that Norrbotten is part of the Arctic and that we can use our location as a springboard for regional growth,” regional politician Kent Ögren says in a press note from the Norrbotten administration.

According to Ögren and the strategy elaborators, there is major interest also among national authorities about the regional Arctic strategy, which they believe ultimately could set a footprint on the level of the EU.

“The Arctic region is undergoing major change with regard to climate issues, as well as extraction of natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals. New preconditions for shipping, trade and energy production are in the making. This all provides opportunities for Norrbotten to take part and influence,” the Norrbotten regional government says.