By sharing experiences and lessons learnt, the event “Sharing Arctic Knowledge – finding sustainable solutions through cooperation across borders” presented how cooperation across borders can provide better possibilities for sustainable solutions in a local, regional and Arctic perspective. The event aimed at displaying what the Interreg cooperation programmes can offer to Arctic communities, businesses and research.
Mr Ole Gustav Narud, State Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government and Regional development (Norway) opened the event highlighting that regional and local authorities in Arctic areas have for several decades practiced successful cross-border, Nordic and international cooperation. The goal is sustainable economic, social and environmental development in the region. Mr Narud sustains this well-functioning political dialogue and cooperation is a very valuable framework for tackling challenges going forward.
Ms Helena Renström, Marketing Manager at Skellefteå Municipality (Sweden) shared the experience of one of the biggest social transformations in modern times. Skellefteå’s city strategy placed sustainability and equality at the core of its growth plan. With the goal of reaching 80,000 inhabitants in 2030, the city invested massively, especially in green industry. Such investments triggered new jobs that are still to be filled. Therefore a larger influx of new inhabitants is expected and hoped for, to meet the city’s ambitious vision.
A panel session allowed exploring the experiences and benefits of cooperation from different angles, such as work opportunities, culture, research and tourism. Ms Anja Márjá Nystø Keskitalo, Advisor EU unit, Saami Council (Norway) highlighted how important it is to ”attract and retain a skilled workforce – especially youth – in Arctic regions”. All panelists recommended a larger involvement of young actors: “Activate youth, now!” said Jákup Sørensen (Senior Adviser at Nordic Atlantic Cooperation (NORA), Faroe Islands) , to which Ms Anja Márjá Nystø Keskitalo added to “Focus on flexibility and creativity”. Mr Ronald Wærnes (Executive Councillor for Finance and Culture, Troms and Finnmark County Government, Norway ) also encouraged “To innovate, get up and move forward”. Mr Niko Hänninen (Project manager, University of Oulu, Finland), encouraged prospective applicants emphasizing that the ”the solutions which can be found working across borders definitely pay off the effort of managing complex projects”.
The concrete possibilities for cooperation across borders and programmes, were illustrated by Ms Iiris Mäntyranta, Programme Director at Interreg Aurora , and Ms Kirsti Mijnhijmer, Head of Secretariat at Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme.
The room reached full capacity with over 70 participants, mostly from universities, research organisations and public authorities from regions across the Arctic. The organisers would like to thank all participants, speakers and event hostess, Ms Päivi Ekdahl, Development director at the Regional Council of Lapland.