For centuries, Scotland and the Arctic have enjoyed close links that have had a lasting impact on our cultural, economic and social fabric. While most visible in our northernmost areas, these bonds are evident across the country and lie at the heart of our valued relationship with Arctic states. Scotland is among the Arctic region's closest neighbours; we share many features and outlooks and have long looked to each other for inspiration, solutions and ideas.
To this day, connections forged through history continue to spur new academic partnerships, trade exchanges, artistic projects and joint cooperation improving our daily lives. Enabled by new technologies, a deep understanding of Scottish-Arctic similarities has led to rich collaborations across a range of areas, from improving connectivity and invigorating rural economies, to making sustainable use of marine resources and cultivating cultural heritage.
At a time when the Arctic is the focus of mounting geopolitical attention, this framework puts people back at the heart of Scottish-Arctic dialogue. It reflects on common challenges, sets out Scottish expertise that is relevant to Arctic issues and encourages greater mutual learning with a view to improving the resilience and wellbeing of our communities. Focusing on the many areas in which the Scottish Government has devolved responsibilities, this framework aims to serve as a prospectus for even closer Scottish-Arctic cooperation.
By building a new platform for policy and knowledge exchange, the Scottish Government intends to strengthen the foundations of a long-standing two-way discussion with its Arctic partners. We want to share Scottish expertise while underlining our desire to learn from others. This document is intended for both our international partners and Scotland-based organisations, who we encourage to look north for new collaborations and opportunities.
With climate change posing a devastating threat to the wellbeing of the Arctic region and of our planet, the need for closer ties has never been greater. These challenges cannot be tackled in isolation but can only be addressed if countries come together to confront them. For this reason, while promoting neighbourly engagement with the Arctic, we also appeal to the wider international community to increase collective action, accelerate decarbonisation and jointly build a sustainable future for all.
The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union puts our international partnerships, including with Arctic countries, at risk. We are determined to protect Scotland's reputation as an open and outward looking nation and we are re-doubling our efforts at promoting Scotland as a good global citizen.
The development of this policy framework is the result of a journey during which we have consulted widely and reached out to Scotland's civic society. The publication of this document does not mean that we have reached our destination. It is an important milestone in the journey towards consolidating Scotland's position as a European gateway to the Arctic and establishing it as the international partner of choice for both our Arctic neighbours and other like-minded countries that are interested in working with us on addressing common challenges.
Fiona Hyslop MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs