Scotland's first Arctic Policy Framework will be launched in Orkney, a move welcomed by the Islands Council.
OIC Leader James Stockan said: “I am delighted that our islands have been chosen to host the publication of this important policy framework, the Scottish Government’s prospectus for Scottish-Arctic co-operation and knowledge-exchange.
“We are taking an active approach to building new links with Arctic and Nordic states and I look forward to the launch event – and a wealth of discussion on past, present and future connections with our northerly neighbours.”
Staged in partnership by the Government, the Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the event will take place on Monday 23 September at the Orkney Research and Innovation Campus in Stromness. The key-note address will be given by Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.
The new Arctic Policy Framework highlights existing links between Scotland and the Arctic region, looks at shared challenges and explores avenues for even greater Scottish-Arctic co-operation.
“Our islands have much to contribute to this on many fronts,” Councillor Stockan said. “World leading research and development in renewable energy and hydrogen generation is taking place in Orkney – and in Scapa Flow, our internationally famous natural harbour, we have an asset of major strategic importance to Scotland.
“We are determined to play our part in contributing to the future prosperity of other communities as well as our own. The launch event will be an important milestone in taking this forward.”
The Council is exploring new economic opportunities for the islands and has taken part in discussions at a meeting in Oslo of the Nordic Council and at a gathering of the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland.
Councillor Stockan added: “We found a great willingness to look at future opportunities to collaborate with us.”
The Orkney Research and Innovation Campus (ORIC) is a joint venture by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Orkney Islands Council.The 3.75-acre campus will support the growth of existing research and innovation activity and the expansion of companies in Orkney’s world-leading marine renewables, energy and low carbon sector. It will also attract additional research activities to Orkney, from the commercial and academic worlds.
HIE is investing £4.65 million in the campus project, including £1.48 million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money. The Council is investing £2 million, including £0.5 million of Scottish Government Regeneration Funding, in addition to transferring ownership of the Old Academy and former Stromness primary school to the partnership as the base for the campus.
In 1854, the Orcadian explorer John Rae discovered the final link of the Northwest Passage, charting a commercial sea route that many before him had failed to uncover.
Like many of his fellow islanders, Rae was employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. At one time, three-quarters of the company’s workforce originated from Orkney – and many Orcadian names are still common in Canada today.
In the 20th century, Orkney served as an important departure point for the Arctic convoys that braved heavy bombardment to deliver food and other vital supplies to the north of Russia during World War II.