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Home* News and Stories → Sval­bard­mel­ding: new Nor­we­gi­an white paper for Spits­ber­gen-poli­tics

Sval­bard­mel­ding: new Nor­we­gi­an white paper for Spits­ber­gen-poli­tics

The Nor­we­gi­an govern­ment publishes a stra­tegy paper to defi­ne a frame­work for Spits­ber­gen-rela­ted poli­tics every cou­ple of years. The last one came in 2009 and the new one had been announ­ced a while ago. Local play­ers were eager­ly wai­ting for it, hoping for new and posi­ti­ve impacts for the local deve­lo­p­ment espe­ci­al­ly in times whe­re one of the major local eco­no­mic dri­ving forces, the coal mining indus­try, is lar­ge­ly col­lapsing.

Now it is the­re, the new Sval­bard white paper was published this week and it is now wide­ly dis­cus­sed in regio­nal media.

Most com­men­ta­tors are dis­ap­poin­ted, all in all. The new Sval­bard­mel­ding is a descrip­ti­on of obvious deve­lo­p­ments rather than a packa­ge of impul­ses to dri­ve future deve­lo­p­ment. Comm­ents are quick­ly drif­ting into the details of local eco­no­mic poli­cy, and may­be that is what is new about it: eco­no­my is more important than it was in the 2009 paper. But it is no news that coal mining is of decre­asing importance. More year-round full time jobs are to be crea­ted, pre­fer­a­b­ly in the pri­va­te sec­tor, but public insti­tu­ti­ons may just as well increase their local pre­sence. The future fate of the mining com­pa­ny Store Nor­ske remains unclear, and so does the ans­wer to the ques­ti­on who will fill the gap that Store Nor­ske has left in Longyearbyen’s eco­no­my as a major indus­tri­al actor. Local ide­as to deve­lo­p­ment Longyearbyen’s indus­try as a fishery port are not taken much fur­ther by the new Sval­bard­mel­ding. The­se are among­st the ques­ti­ons that locals want to have ans­we­red.

Neither is the­re much cla­ri­ty about flight traf­fic. Due to his­to­ri­cal con­tracts and Spitsbergen’s spe­cial poli­ti­cal situa­ti­on, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is curr­ent­ly not open as desti­na­ti­on for sche­du­led flights from non-Nor­we­gi­an air­ports. Recent­ly, Finn­air has can­cel­led flights alre­a­dy sche­du­led and in sale for this sum­mer, much to the reg­ret of the local tou­rism indus­try.

Ano­ther important issue is local power sup­p­ly. It is not a secret that the coal power plant, ori­gi­nal­ly built in 1983, is not going to last fore­ver. The ques­ti­on of the future elec­tri­ci­ty sup­p­ly is going bey­ond the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of how power is get­ting into sockets in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: the visi­on of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, a small and elec­tri­cal­ly iso­la­ted com­mu­ni­ty, as a labo­ra­to­ry for tech­no­lo­gy for the ener­gy sup­p­ly of the future, has been dis­cus­sed for quite a while alre­a­dy. A cle­ver rea­liza­ti­on of this visi­on might crea­te know­ledge of glo­bal importance and local jobs. The new Spits­ber­gen white­pa­per does not make much of a con­tri­bu­ti­on to the­se ide­as. Important impul­ses for the­se deve­lo­p­ments are not expec­ted from the new paper.

The only con­cre­te task that is heral­ded by the Sval­bard­mel­ding is 10 mil­li­on NOK (curr­ent­ly just abo­ve 1 mil­li­on Euro) for new accom­mo­da­ti­on, also as a reac­tion to the loss of 11 hou­ses during the ava­lan­che in Decem­ber 2015.

The new Spits­ber­gen white paper (Sval­bard­mel­ding) does not bring any sur­pri­ses or major unex­pec­ted impul­ses to the local deve­lo­p­ment.

Longyearbyen: New Svalbardmelding (Spitsbergen white paper)

Sources: among­st others. highnorthnews.com, Sval­bard­pos­ten, regjeringen.no.



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last modification: 2016-05-13 · copyright: Rolf Stange