Arctic Connections

A European gateway to the Arctic.

Scotland has the expertise and vision to serve as a link between the Arctic region and the wider world with opportunities to help tackle issues such as sustainable tourism, renewable energy and climate change, Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary has said.

Launching Scotland’s first Arctic Policy Framework in Orkney, Fiona Hyslop highlighted past collaboration and joint exploration, while looking ahead to how Scottish expertise on Arctic issues can lead to further work with Arctic partners in the future. Countries with territories in the Arctic are already major trade partners for Scotland, accounting for around 27.5% of our overseas exports in 2017. They are also the origin of nearly half of all foreign direct investments in Scotland.

The framework sets ambitions for Scotland across the Arctic while encouraging academia, civic society and government organisations to have a greater level of collaboration with international counterparts.

Speaking at the Orkney Research and Innovation Campus in Stromness, Ms Hyslop said:

”Scotland remains an outward looking European nation, committed to positive relationships with both our European neighbours and those further afield, despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU.

“Scottish-Arctic partnerships have intensified over recent years, acknowledging that international challenges require international solutions. The launch of Arctic Connections creates opportunities to take forward key environmental and climate change work and strengthen trade and investment links in areas such as renewable energy as well as promoting Scotland as a well-placed marine transport and logistics hub. We will also use this launch to share Scotland’s world leading expertise in areas of shared interest such as safety commissioning and decarbonisation.  

“As part of our offer to the High North, we are establishing a fund to support people to people links to help communities build Arctic relations and encourage Scottish universities to participate even closer with the University of the Arctic. We will promote knowledge exchange within digital heath care and education in remote areas and advance our cultural connections.

“The Arctic Policy Framework launch is the starting point in a new exciting era for Scottish-Arctic relations. Our commitment to the region is clear and I am determined that Scotland remains an active partner in facing both the challenges and opportunities our ever changing world presents.”


Hosted in conjunction with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Orkney Islands Council, the Arctic Policy Framework launch brought together policy makers, academics, business leaders and others interested in the future of Scotland’s relationship with the High North.

Speakers at the launch include:

  • Cllr James Stockan, Leader of the Orkney Islands Council
  • Mr Graeme Harrison, Area Manager Orkney, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Ms Janette Park, Curator, Stromness Museum
  • Prof Ted Cowan, Emeritus Professor of Scottish History, University of Edinburgh
  • Mr David Reid, Expedition Leader, Arctic Return Expedition
  • Dr Richard Smith, Expedition Member, Arctic Return Expedition
  • Mr Thomas Knowles, Head of Strategic Investment, Historic Environment Scotland
  • Dr Sarah Mair Bellshaw, Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research
  • Ms Kisti Mijnhijmer, Head of Secretariat, Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

The Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 Programme forms a cooperation between 9 programme partner countries; the Member States of Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Scotland and Northern Ireland) in cooperation with the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Norway.

Over the last five years Scottish organisations have secured a total of €6.8 million through the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme. To date, over half the projects funded through the NPA programme have involved a Scottish dimension.


Media enquiries

Back to top