The cornerstone of Nordic cooperation is the Nordic Council, which represents Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.
The "Norden" consists of two separate but interoperable entities, The Nordic Council, an official inter-parliamentary body, and the Nordic Council of Ministers, a forum for Nordic inter-governmental cooperation. In addition to the Council and the Council of Ministers, there are more than 20 official Nordic institutions – and about the same number of unofficial ones. The Nordic Innovation Centre (NICe), NordForsk, Nordic Culture Point, Nordic Project Fund (NOPEF), the Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues and the Nordic School of Public Health (NHV) are full Nordic institutions, as are the Nordic houses in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. One of the main institutions in the second category is the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), which has been jointly owned by the five Nordic and three Baltic states since 2005. Another key organisation is the Nordic Cultural Fund, which supports culture in the Region as well as Nordic projects elsewhere in the world.
The Nordic Council is the official inter-parliamentary body. Formed in 1952, it has 87 elected members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the three autonomous territories (Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Åland). The members are all national MPs nominated by the party groups in their home parliaments. There are no direct elections to the Council. It is run by a Presidium and convenes for an annual autumn meeting called the Session, which passes recommendations to the national governments. The main priorities in the work of the Nordic Council are: climate, environment and energy; education and research; and welfare and culture.
The cornerstone of the cooperation is The Helsinki Treaty, which regulates official cooperation between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It was signed on 23 March 1962 and came into force on 1 July 1962. The main objective of the treaty is to maintain and develop further co-operation between the Nordic countries in the legal, cultural, social and economic fields, as well as in those of transport and communications and environmental protection. In addition, the treaty establishes a foundation for joint positioning in matters of common interest which are dealt with by European and other international organisations and conferences.
The Council of Ministers is the official inter-governmental body. The prime ministers have overall responsibility for its work. In practice, this responsibility is delegated to the ministers for Nordic cooperation and the Nordic Co-operation Committee, which co-ordinates the day-to-day work. Despite its name, the Council of Ministers, which was founded in 1971, consists of several councils. These councils meet a couple of times a year. At present, there are 11 of them.
On of the areas of Nordic cooperation is the Arctic. The Nordic countries cooperate to improve the quality of life for the indigenous peoples in the northern areas and to promote social and cultural development for the Arctic people. Nordic cooperation also strives to protect the sensitive and characteristic Arctic nature, and to ensure sustainable use of the region's resources, and protection of its biological diversity.
An Advisory Expert Committee was established in conjunction with the adoption of the new Arctic Co-operation Programme in 2002. The Arctic Expert Committee is made up of Nordic members of the Arctic Council and representatives from the autonomous territories. In Nordic Council terms the Arctic Expert Committee will offer advice to the Ministers for Co-operation and the Nordic Co-operation Committee on matters relating to the Arctic.
Following the increasing importance of the Arctic region in international politics, the Nordic Council will discuss the controversial question of a Nordic strategy for the Arctic Region in its meeting in Reykjavik, 21-23 March, 2012 . The meeting will also discuss oil extraction in the Arctic and recommendations for allocating responsibilities in the event of environmental incidents. A plenary session will be in the Icelandic parliament on Friday 23 March, 08:30-11:45 local time. It will be broadcasted live on-line at www.norden.org/temasession2012.
The ministers this week (Photo: Foreign Ministry of France)France has agreed to cooperation with Iceland regarding the Arctic. The foreign ministers of the two countries met this week to finalize the agreement.
Mr. Össur Skarphéðinsson of Iceland and Mr. Alain Juppé of France met and discussed several matters.
"We agreed to a cooperation regarding the Arctic. This is in line with our policy of engaging cooperation related to relative projects with as many nations as possible," Össur said to Fréttablaðið.
France will invite Icelandic researchers to their stations, both in Ny Alesund in Svalbard and to Antarctica. Iceland will invite French specialist to Akureyri for research there.
Close cooperation between the University of Akureyri and the established University Pierre and Marie Curie will be engaged.
Iceland will also participate in a big project related to economic and social impacts of climate change in the Arctic.
Vladimir Putin on the right.The relationship between Canada and Russia is set to strengthen with an establishment of a joint research council. The countries relationship is thought to be stiff.
"We have normal relations," said newly elected president Vladimir Putin said, adding that he would like to meet with Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada, at coming G8 and G20 summits. "The volume of trade is very low. Perhaps that is part of the problem."
Putin spoke to a group of six newspaper editors invited to his residence outside Moscow. In response to questions about Canadian relations, he said he would push for a joint scientific team, and pointed to a successful Russia-Norway approach to Arctic sovereignty.
"The border of the continental shelf needs to be determined by scientists," he said. He also tried to calm concerns over Russian exploration. "You needn't suspect us of some kind of unilateral action. Yes, we have been exploring the shelf. What's wrong with that?"
The words from Putin are encouraging as Canada and Russia share boarders in the middle of the Arctic Ocean where land claims are being disputed. A joint research council could help the relationship between the two Arctic giants across the Arctic Ocean in the search for resources in the north.
Arctic trees are older than many thought (Photo: Arctic Portal - Magdalena)Many established scientist thought that trees were wiped off in the north in the Little Ice Age, which startet some 115.000 years ago. That is not the case according to Danish scientist.
Their newly published study claims that that conifer grew in northern Scandinavia in the glacial period despite several kilometer thick ice sheets.
A huge ice sheet covered the Northern region of the world, melting some 9000 years ago. But the research show that the conifers protruded from the enormous ice sheet, on islands and in coastal areas.
"This means that we need to rethink how life reacts to global climate changes and that life on Earth is a lot more robust than we think," says Professor Eske Willerslev, of the Centre for Geogenetics at the University of Copenhagen, who headed the research.
The scientist used DNA technology to determine that the trees did not have to completely emerge from the south around 9000 years ago, some actually survived.
The Swedish professor of physical geography at Umeå University, Leif Kullman, caused a heated debate among scientist when he claimed that he found remains of trees throughout Scandinavia that dated back before the time the ice melted away. That suggested that ice free areas did exist, causing a stir in the scientific community. Now the new proof supports Kullmans theory.
After researching over 100 European spruces the researchers found two gneric types, one of which is only found in Scandinavia. The other specie migrated from the south.
Sediments at the bottom of a lake in Trøndelag in central Norway revealed samples of 10,300 year-old DNA, which indicate that the indigenous Scandinavian spruce type was located in central Norway, while the country was supposed to have been covered by a thick layer of ice.
From samples dating back some 20,000 years, they also managed to identify DNA from both pine and spruce on the island of Andøya in northwestern Norway. "This means that Kullman, who everyone though was mad, was probably right," says Willerslev.
Solar energy panels (Photo: GettyImages)Norwegian scientists have found a new, cheap and environmental friendly way to use solar power. The new substance is metal hybrides that Research Fellow Trygve Mongstad has found to be very effective.
"These metallic hydrides are chemical compounds consisting of a metal bound with hydrogen," Mongstad explains. He works at the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) at Kjeller, Norway.
The new solar panels can be described as little discs of glass that have a thin coating of vaporized magnesium-nickel hydride.
These metal hybrides are the same ones that were once used in hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
"Here at IFE's solar energy department we are experimenting with exciting new uses for the characteristics of metal hydrides," he says and adds that he has hopes that metal hydrides can be put to the same use in solar cells as is crystalline silicon, the dominant bulk material for solar cells.
One of the best things is that the new cells are even cheaper than the existing ones. "Solar cells are cheaper than ever but still not affordable enough for solar energy to compete on a large-scale with, for instance, coal-fired power plants," he says.
He adds that although the solar industry is going through a hard time it is still the way of the future.
Solar cells are all about the efficiency, todays panels have the efficiency of 10-20 percent, depending on the technology. The efficiency goes up to 43% on the new panels according to Mongstad.
The raw materials are readily available and consist of cheap metals and hydrogen. These materials are environmentally friendly and in this context non-toxic. As the thickness is just one-hundredth of that of silicon cells, they require less energy to manufacture.