Research needs to be higher up on the Nordic Council agenda

HOF Cultural Center, Akureyri, Iceland

Research needs to be higher up on the Nordic Council agenda

The Nordic Council held its Theme Session for 2014 on 8 April in the city of Akureyri in northern Iceland. Parliamentarians from all political parties in all Nordic countries met to discuss sustainable exploitation of natural resources.

NordForsk took the opportunity to inform the parliamentarians about its newly launched initiative “Responsible Development of the Arctic – Opportunities and Challenges – Pathways to Action”, a joint Nordic programme funded by Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. NOK 90 million is available for allocation to top-notch researchers working on projects involving at least three Nordic countries.

NordForsk spoke with members of the Nordic Council’s Business and Industry Committee and Culture, Education and Training Committee about the role that research plays in the Council:

Norwegian member of the Business and Industry Committee, Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes (Socialist Left Party):

Norsk medlem af Nordisk Råds Næringsudvalg Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes (Sosialistisk Venstreparti)“There is no established practice in the Nordic Council for discussing research. Nor have we had access to the results of the research funded through NordForsk, for example. We may talk about knowledge-based policy, but parliamentarians in the Nordic Council have not put any particular focus on the research actually being carried out. Dagfinn Høybråten recently spoke of the Open Access portal launched under Nordic cooperation last month. A first step towards realising the vision of knowledge-based policy in the Nordic Council must be to make the knowledge that NordForsk has helped to generate available to politicians. In my opinion, the Business and Industry Committee does not give research enough priority on its current agenda. I think that Open Access, along with our increased efforts to apply research in our work, will shift the general focus. For those of us seeking to strengthen  cooperation among the Nordic countries, research is at the core of the future development of Nordic societies.

Danish member of the Culture, Education and Training Committee, Liselott Blixt (Danish People's Party):

Dansk medlem af Nordisk Råds Kultur- og Uddannelsesudvalg Liselott Blixt (Dansk Folkeparti)I think it is frustrating that Denmark is not taking part in research projects taking place within the cooperative Nordic framework. I intend to take a closer look at this. The Arctic areas are facing some major challenges both now and in the future, and we are all concerned. I don’t think this is limited to my party alone; I think all the other parties are worried too.


Swedish member of the Business and Industry Committee, Billy Gustafsson (Swedish Social Democratic Party):

Svensk medlem af Næringsudvalget Billy Gustafsson (Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Arbetareparti)In order to deal with future challenges I think we need to give research higher priority. On the one hand, it is very important not to steer research politically. It should and must remain autonomous. On the other hand, I believe that we also need to set political objectives for determining the most important challenges to solve. 


Icelandic member of the Culture, Education and Training Committee, Valgerður Gunnarsdóttir (Independence Party of Iceland):

Islandsk medlem af Kultur- og Uddannelsesudvalget Valgerður Gunnarsdóttir (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn/Selvstændighedspartiet)I believe a focus on research is essential, because that is how we gain new knowledge. This applies both to us as politicians and to those the research revolves around.