On January 27, the Canadian Studies Task Force met with the Minister Counseller Else Kveinen of the Norwegian Embassy to expand our knowledge of the Arctic policy that Norway has set forth in recent years. After a brief introduction and warm welcome, we sat down and were educated briefly on the documents that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had provided each student along with a deeper explanation given by Ms. Kveinen. As expected, the high points of Norway’s Arctic policy resembled many of other embassies we have visited earlier on in the week, including keeping international cooperation as one of the priorities. Through my personal research on resource extraction, the Sovereign Wealth Fund that is kept by the Norwegian government for the purpose of providing pensions for Norwegian citizens had come up multiple times. However, I was deeply interested by the discussion that came about from a few of the inquisitive students into this structure. With the fund totaling over 6 984 billion NOK currently, I asked Ms. Kveinen whether or not it was feasible to use a small proportion of the fund to further research into renewable forms of energy, which will eventually be the prominent form of energy for the ever-advancing international community. As expected, the fund is not utilized for supporting renewable energy, since it is reserved for an eventual aging Norwegian population; however, Ms. Kveinen seemed interested in the possibility of it being utilized in that way. Additionally, I learned that an ethics board, with no ties to the government, dictates the use of the fund, and occasionally rules on where the allotted 4% of the fund can annually be spent. Interestingly enough, Ms. Kveinen said that the fund is indirectly being used to halt climate change, as the ethics board voted to not support the extraction of oil sands. The time spent discussing and answering our questions about Norwegian arctic policy was incredibly valuable and will most certainly enrich our final report with accurate and specific details on nation-direct arctic policy.
By: Laura Heckenlively