Scotland is to host the next meeting of the Arctic Circle Forum on 19th-21st November 2017 in the Assembly Rooms. The event is to be named ‘Scotland and the New North’ and will have an emphasis on innovation, science and sustainable development. This follows on from the First minister’s keynote speech at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik in October and visits by her and Scottish Government ministers to Scandinavia, Canada and Ireland. Not only that, they have developed a Nordic-Baltic Policy statement which you can read in full at: Nordic-Baltic Policy Statement.
Here are three earlier reports on the wider issues:
Much of this activity is, in part, motivated by the mad uncertainties being currently generated by the Tory Government in Westminster as it dithers over Brexit and refuses to release a report which suggest a hard Brexit will be especially damaging for the Scottish Economy. Here are some of the reasons based on our expertise and shared interests identified by the First Minister as to why Scotland can play a major part in the New North:
- Hywind Scotland is the largest floating wind farm anywhere in the world. But it is maybe even more important as a sign for the future, as we develop offshore wind in deep waters.
- Scotland is already home to the world’s largest tidal power array.
- We have impressive capabilities in other areas – for example smart grids and battery storage.
- Our renewable electricity output has almost trebled in the last decade and is now equivalent to more than half of the electricity used in Scotland.
- We decided last week not to allow fracking in Scotland.
- Scotland will establish a new publicly-owned energy company.
- By 2032 Scotland aims to eliminate the need for new diesel and petrol cars and vans.
- We see tackling climate change, first and foremost, as an overwhelming moral imperative.
- We believe that if we set a clear ambition to lead technological change, not trail in its wake, we will better position ourselves to be the inventor and producer of new technologies, not just the consumer of them.
- Scotland is also currently working with Norway and other European nations on carbon capture and storage.
- Arctic nations already provide 5 of the 10 largest sources of foreign investment into Scotland. They also provide 3 of Scotland’s 6 largest export markets.
- Since August of this year, parents of new born babies across Scotland have received baby boxes. That’s a policy we learned about from Finland. We are also finding out about Denmark’s experience in delivering disability benefits. And we are working with Iceland and others on issues such as the protection of vulnerable children.
- Arctic countries on many measures are doing pretty well. For example, they account for 5 of the top 11 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index. So, for Scotland, it clearly makes sense for us to look north as well as south when we tackle major social and economic challenges.
I hear BBC Scotland will be doing a special documentary on ‘Scotland and the New North.’ Sorry that should be ‘should’ not ‘will’. Seriously though, they’d love to have the time for it but they have Ruth Davidson, Willie Rennie and Anas Sarwar already scheduled for most of the available slots.