Nordic Council summit meeting: knowledge as the basis for policy development
Nordic members of parliament convened in the Riksdag building in Stockholm for the Nordic Council’s annual Ordinary Session from 28 to 30 October 2014. The focus this year was on education, integration and the labour market. NordForsk had a stand to provide information to Nordic politicians about joint Nordic research initiatives and results, and followed the debates involving NordForsk’s subject areas. The debates clearly showed that knowledge and research form an integral part of the basis underlying many political decisions taken in the Nordic countries.
Arctic Co-operation Programme approved
Annika Olsen, the Faroese Minister of Social Affairs, presented the Nordic Council of Ministers' Arctic Co-operation Programme, which will provide a total of approximately DKK 8.5 million in funding for research projects and initiatives in the 2015–2017 period. The programme comprises four thematic areas: Population in the Arctic; Sustainable Business Development; the Environment, Nature and Climate; and Education and Skills Enhancement. The funding announcement is planned to be issued in December with an application submission deadline in January 2015. The programme complements NordForsk’s new Joint Nordic Initiative on Arctic Research: Responsible Development of the Arctic: Opportunities and Challenges – Pathways to Action, where all five Nordic countries are contributing to a common pot of approximately NOK 85 million. The research initiative was discussed during debates in the Session, and Norwegian parliamentarian Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes (Left-wing Socialist Green Group), among others, stated that more money should be allocated to Arctic research. The new Arctic Co-operation Programme was approved.
New Nordic initiatives on health research
How to live as long as possible in the best possible health is a major concern for everyone and thus for the Nordic governments as well. To gain understanding from the consolidated experiences and expertise of all the Nordic countries, the Nordic Council of Ministers asked Bo Könberg, former Swedish Minister of Health Care and Social Security, to explain in brief how to develop and improve the health sector in the Nordic countries. His report on the subject was completed in summer 2014. The report’s 14 recommendations were discussed during the Session, and there was support for political action based on the report. One of the recommendations focused on the establishment of a Nordic virtual centre for register-based research, with NordForsk identified as a potential administrator of the centre.
Results of the Top-level Research Initiative presented
In 2007, the five Nordic prime ministers at the time agreed to provide a combined total of DKK 400 million to the Top-level Research Initiative (TFI), a joint initiative promoting excellent research, particularly in the areas of climate, energy and the environment. Among other things, the initiative led to the establishment of six Nordic Centres of Excellence which have been in operation for several years and are beginning to generate results. Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Dagfinn Høybråten explained how the TFI initiative has worked to the current prime ministers. NordForsk hopes that both the structure of the TFI funding and the scientific results achieved will help to inspire future political initiatives.
Critical to lack of follow-up of primary industries
The results of the research programme on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation in Nordic Primary Industries were published in late summer 2014 as part of a report containing specific recommendations. The parliamentarians discussed the report during the Session and called for a follow-up of its recommendations.
Icelandic presidency and Danish chairmanship
In 2014 Iceland has held the chairmanship for the Nordic Council while Karin Åström (Social Democrat Group) of Sweden has served as president. In 2015, Denmark will be taking over the chairmanship and will focus on Growth, Welfare, Values and the Arctic. The Session elected Iceland’s Höskuldur Þórhallsson, member of the Nordic Council's Centre Group (Central Liberal, Green and Christian Democratic member parties) as president for the upcoming year.
Text: Linn Hoff Jensen
Photos: Johannes Jansson and Magnus Fröderberg/Norden.org