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Think Nordic and you may think blonde (hair), green (environmental polices) or noir (gripping crime films, novels and TV series). Were it up to the Nordic Council, an intergovernmental organisation, white (Arctic) would also be on that list.
Where Brussels is only grudgingly accepted as a partner in the region, the Nordic Council is more palatable. Firstly, all of the Nordic Council states – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – have Arctic territory. They also seem to have cracked the code of how to combine sustainability and economic growth, a goal many countries say they have for the region, but which few seem to have a track record of achieving.
Critics will point to the fact that the region’s green reputation has a black lining: Norway and Denmark are energetic oil drillers, and mining is an important economic activity throughout the far North. Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland are all eagerly pursuing ways to exploit their underground resources. Continued whaling in the region also rubs conservation groups the wrong way. Meanwhile, the Inuit and Sami would argue that many policies – both past and present – passed in southern capitals run counter to their interests.
To bolster its position in the region, the Nordic Council last year adopted a €1.5 million programme to regional fund projects that promote things like human and economic development while at the same time protecting the environment.
Though much smaller in budget, a social-media event being held today could see the Nordics spread their message far further. The US ambassadors of each of the five countries will be taking part in what is being billed as a Twitter Town Hall. Starting at 2pm, Washington time, the ambassadors will be fielding questions about what their countries are doing in the Arctic, as well as about Nordic issues in general.