Boosting Scotland’s links with Nordic and Baltic states is key

Our northern overseas neighbours in the Nordic and Baltic states already account for £2.6 billion of exports.

We are all fortunate to have massive renewable energy potential and a shared interest in its development.

From Iceland to Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, there is a huge interest in Scotland’s renewables revolution, as there is in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

For example, Edinburgh-based Red Rock Power recently acquired 50 per cent of the Överturing wind farm in Sweden.

The majority of the power generated will be sold to Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian aluminium company.

Developing our connections with the Nordic and Baltic nations is a key Scottish Government priority, which is why I hosted ambassadors and senior diplomats from the eight countries at the recently re-opened Scotland House in London.

Our representative office aims to support Scotland’s strategic objectives around reputation, trade, research and innovation, investment, and protecting Scotland’s interests.

That includes developing trade and investment links, strengthening government to government relations, and facilitating collaboration on economic, academic and innovation projects.

Scotland’s international focus was underlined in the recent Programme for Government presented by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, which stressed that “at a time of increasing insularity, Scotland’s strength will remain in its internationalism”.

There are already many areas of policy cooperation with our Nordic and Baltic neighbours – including the well-being economy partnership between Scotland, Iceland and Finland, which can help us understand how social well-being can be placed at the heart off our recovery.

Meanwhile the CivTech Alliance, which boasts members from Estonia, Lithuania and Denmark, can improve the way we deliver public services to enhance our communities’ lives and encourages digital collaboration.

Our recovery from the pandemic must be a green recovery, to accelerate the emission reductions required to tackle the climate emergency and build a more sustainable future for our planet.

In less than 50 days, Glasgow will welcome leaders and negotiators from across the world for the UN’s COP26 climate conference.

Scotland will be showcasing solutions that have often been been developed in partnership with Nordic and Baltic countries: energy efficiency with Denmark; peatland restoration with Finland; carbon capture with Norway; transport electrification with Sweden; digital projects with Estonia, and Lithuania on sustainable living and forest management.

The list goes on.

During COP26, the Scottish Government will co-host events at the Nordic Pavilion, while as part of the Arctic policy framework, we are sponsoring the Cryosphere Pavilion promoted by the Sweden-based International Cryosphere Climate Initiative.

It will allow Scottish scientists to present their findings and encourage new Scottish-Arctic research partnerships.

Interestingly, Glasgow is the closest city to the Arctic to have ever played host to a COP event.

Next year, the Scottish Government will open an office in Copenhagen to increase Scotland’s economic and cultural visibility in the Nordic region.

This will be followed by one in Warsaw. Both offices will help support Scotland’s growing connections in the Nordic and Baltic nations.

Scotland is a northern European nation that shares a common region with Nordic and Baltic neighbours.

It is a key priority to develop Scotland’s connections and help promote our regional prosperity, social justice, climate responsibility and security.

This article was originally published in Edinburgh Evening News.