EconomiaIntervisteNorvegia

La Norvegia del Nord alla sfida del futuro

Intervista a Maja Wolland Blomberg della Nord University Business School di Bodø durante Arctic Connections 2024.

Sfide e opportunità per i giovani talenti

Anche quest’anno Osservatorio Artico ha partecipato al simposio internazionale Arctic Connections, che ha ospitato esperti italiani e norvegesi per mettere in luce parallelismi e differenze che caratterizzano il quadrante Artico e quello Mediterraneo, nonché le sfide comuni relative alla transizione energetica. 

Tra le relatrici del side-event “Youth engagement in the Arctic to tackle the climate change”, la dottoranda Maja Wolland Blomberg della Nord University Business School di Bodø. Come assistente di ricerca nel progetto InnNord presso l’High North Centre for Business and Governance, parte de suo lavoro si concentra sul trovare risposte alla domanda: “Come possiamo attirare più persone nella Norvegia settentrionale?”.

Le abbiamo quindi chiesto quali siano i potenziali percorsi – e gli ostacoli – affinché i giovani talenti possano scegliere di vivere – o ritornare – in Norvegia settentrionale e contribuire al suo sviluppo economico e sociale.

Quale futuro per la Norvegia del Nord

 Can you share your understanding about the obstacles that hinder young talented people to stay or come to Northern Norway, and what could be the drivers for talents attraction instead?

“First of all, I think it is important to underline that the Arctic is very diverse! There is everything from vast ice-landscapes and highlands to highly developed communities and large cities. In my research, I study the case of Northern Norway. For 20 years, different Norwegian governments has declared the High North, “the most important strategic area of Norway”, mainly because of the geopolitical situation in the Barents region.

reine norvegia

A lack of people in Northern Norway is important in this context since it puts the breaks on the economic development in a region extremely rich in natural resources, and it also creates security concerns in maintaining Norwegian interests on the border with Russia. It is within these conditions that the demographic challenge in Northern Norway becomes so important.

We see that especially young people leave the region to find work and studies elsewhere, while leaving behind an ageing population. I also know this has been studied in both Sweden and Finland as well, who are facing many of the same challenges. 

Il sondaggio e le scelte

A recent survey shows that the most common reasons for people to leave Northern Norway are moving closer to family and friends, work and career options, studies, the fact that transportation to the South of Norway and other places in the world is more expensive, and climate conditions.

I think it is important to stress the fact that climate is not the same as climate change in this context. Even though one can argue that climate change is impacting the climate which is an understandable line to draw. However, we can’t blame global warming for a lack of people in Northern Norway. 

I think a major obstacle to attracting more people to Northern Norway is the impression many people have of the Arctic, being only a dark, cold, and uninhabited territory. In Northern Norway we have modern societies with 5G internet, two universities, industry, and a large network of airports and developed air connection. Northern Norway also has a very rich culture, and I can mention that Bodø is the European cultural capital in 2024. Tromsø will be the European Youth capital in 2026 which is also exciting. 

La sfida demografica

The demographic challenge in Northern Norway is very complex. There is no simple solution, but there are three aspects I think are particularly important.

Education is an important driver for development. In Northern Norway we are so lucky as to have two universities: Nord University with main campus in Bodø, and The Arctic University of Norway with the main campus in Tromsø. Numbers show that many students tend to stay in the region where they finish their degree, so it is important that the universities are prioritised. It will also be crucial to find alternative ways to include more foreign students, such as scholarships, as students from outside the EEA and Switzerland now must pay school money.   

tromsø

Larger diversity in job offers. The unemployment rate is about 2,2% in Northern Norway today, which is good news in one way, but companies and institutions report a lack of relevant competences. It is the health sector, tourist industry and construction services where the demand for people are higher, which could mean there is a need for particular competences. Moving more national institutions to the North, as well as the continued encouragement for entrepreneurship in the region, could help to create more job opportunities for more types of competences.

Economic incentives such as tax reductions, higher salaries, or housing aid, I think would draw more people North. Some measures have been tried out in certain local communities with seemingly positive effect. Maybe an extra week for vacation to travel to some sunny place to soak in some vitamin D during the winter would help?  

It is important to say that a lot of good work is already being done to create more attractive societies in Northern Norway. Life in the North is good, we just need that extra push to make us more competitive if we want to turn the trend around.

Le popolazioni indigene

How are, or how can, indigenous people contributing to this matter in your opinion?  

I really think this question is better answered by indigenous peoples themselves. Again, it is important to stress the diversity of indigenous populations as their culture, history and current situation are different across the Arctic. Also, the distinction between indigenous and non-indigenous, Sami or non-Sami, Kven or non-Kven, in Norway, is not straight forward. Many people with Sami heritage, for instance, live their lives among the rest of the population without necessarily taking any part in traditional Sami cultural activity.

In this sense, the efforts of the indigenous populations would be no different from the efforts of the general population. There are however many Sami festivals and other cultural events which presumably has a positive effect in creating a sense of belonging for those who are more attached to their Sami identity.  

Nord University
© Osservatorio Artico

In 2023 I got the opportunity to be one among twenty international students, professionals and experts on Arctic affairs to take part in the very first High North Dialogue Academy. What is the aim of the Academy in 2024?

I’m so glad you asked me this! The High North Dialogue Academy is a one-week seminar for young ambitious future leaders who has a particular interest in the development of Arctic societies. The aim is to introduce people to Bodø and the region of Nordland and let them see how life is here and maybe, hopefully create some interest in studying or having a career here. We make a point out of including young people outside the Arctic, who might have a very different perspective of what life in the High North can look like.

But also, having people from different societies within the Arctic come together, help to increase understanding within the region. Applications are open for all professionals, students, researchers etc. between 18 and 40 years of age. You just need to have a demonstrated interest in the Arctic through.

Giulia Secci

Osservatorio Artico © Tutti i diritti riservati

Giulia Secci
the authorGiulia Secci
Giulia Secci ha completato il Master in Sviluppo Sostenibile, Geopolitica delle Risorse e Studi Artici della SIOI. È intervenuta come relatrice nel Diploma di Studi Polari dell'Università Complutense di Madrid. Nella sua sua tesi magistrale ha analizzato la politica artica della Repubblica Popolare Cinese.

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