Sweden moves Polar Research Secretariat to Arctic town

About 75,000 people live in Luleå, northern Sweden. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
In a move to decentralise state agencies out of Stockholm, Arctic coordination goes north to the town where the country’s fleet of icebreakers have homeport.

The Swedish Government has decided to relocate the Secretariat’s office from Stockholm to Luleå in northern Sweden.

Polar Research in Sweden is coordinated by the Secretariat that is in charge of organizing and supporting fieldwork to both the Arctic and Antarctica.

The Secretariat is also supporting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in matters related to international negotiations and partnerships on polar issues.

Redistribution across the country

The Polar Secretariat is one of seven state agencies and institutions to be moved from the capital to other cities all around Sweden.

“What we present today is the most comprehensive decision on moving state entities. We must make sure to take advantage of the skills found in across the country, not only in our big cities,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said when the move was announced at a press-conference on Wednesday.

The move from Stockholm to Luleå will, according to the decision, be completed by the summer 2019. The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat has 30 employees.

Technical knowledge and icebreakers

Luleå is the largest city in the County of Norrbotten. It holds a technical university with 19,000 students and 1,500 employees. Luleå has in recent years become a booming location for huge data-centres for companies like Facebook.

In the harbour, Sweden’s fleet of icebreakers are based, keeping the Gulf of Bothnia open for cargo vessels during winter. The icebreaker “Oden” has sailed several times on expeditions to Antarctica as well as to the Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Svalbard. In 1991, “Oden” became the first none-nuclear-powered vessel to reach the North Pole.

Sweden is not the first country to move Arctic institutions out of its capital. In 1993, the Norwegian parliament decided to move the Norwegian Polar Institute from Oslo to Tromsø.

Later, in 2013, the Arctic Council Secretariat was established in Tromsø.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs gets major shake up, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland commissions study on new Arctic railway, Yle News

Norway: NASA and Norway to develop observation station in Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Enough with Stockholm, move gov agencies across country including to Arctic, says Swedish PM, Radio Sweden

Russia: Norway and Russia join efforts in mapping ecosystem of Arctic waters, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. transportation secretary announces efforts to speed up project development in Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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