On the threshold of the 25th anniversary of Barents cooperation
Sweden started its chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
Today, when the world is facing big challenges relating to uncertain
economic and political environment and climate change, cross-border
cooperation has grown even more important.
– Ever since its inception, the aim of the Barents cooperation has
been to strengthen peace, stability, and sustainable development in the
region by improving the opportunities for cross-border cooperation and
people-to-people contacts. 25 years later this remains the main purpose
of the cooperation, says Margot Wallström, the Foreign Minister of
Ms. Wallström wants to give credit to the unique interaction between
stakeholders at the national, regional, and local levels, including
indigenous peoples, for the great and concrete results that Barents
Cooperation has been able to achieve.
– We have eliminated (environmental) hot spots from the list, we have
established the International Barents Secretariat, which will celebrate
10 years in 2018, and deepened cooperation in areas such as culture,
health and social issues and transport.
The Foreign Minister hopes that by the time Sweden hands over the
chairmanship to Norway in the autumn of 2019, Barents Cooperation will
be even stronger, more sustainable, and more visible. One goal is also
to make the achievements of 15 working groups more familiar to the
public. She hopes that the partners could create common vision for the
future of the cooperation in the Barents region.
– Whatever the result of that process will be, I am convinced that
together – with firm commitment, enhanced cooperation and smart ideas –
we will make the Barents region thrive, and that our joint efforts will
contribute to a sustainable and equitable future for everyone living in
the Barents region.
Sustainable development a high priority in the chairmanship program
During its chairmanship Sweden wants to work for a more sustainable region and for respect of human rights and gender equality. The Chairmanship program “Regional sustainable development for the future” highlights the most relevant Sustainable Development Goals for Barents cooperation.
– We will pursue an agenda based on the goals of the Agenda 2030 and
the Paris Climate Agreement, and focus simultaneously on the
environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainable
development, Ms. Wallström says.
Attention will be given to the younger generation and the promotion
of gender equality in all the areas of the Council’s work. Sweden wants
to engage the young generation in all areas of Barents cooperation.
– As part of the 25th anniversary of the Barents Cooperation, we will
organize a conference titled “25 Years of Barents Cooperation – Youth
Perspective for the Future” to stress the importance of the young
generation and their possibilities to shape the future of the region.
For Ms. Wallström, the Barents region is about people-to-people
contacts. In Barents cooperation Sweden has emphasized the need for
dialogue and constructive discussions.
– Whether it is through people-to-people contacts or meetings on an
official level, dialogue provides the tools with which we face our
common challenges and work to sustain peace and stability in the region.
An important aspect is also the ongoing dialogue with the indigenous
peoples of the region, who serve as advisors on all levels of
cooperation. This allows the regional development to be combined with a
respect for the unique heritage and the traditional way of life of the