Vakstrarforum — the Growth Forum — is a new initiative taken by the Faroese government to structure and prioritize the most promising clusters for sustainable growth. Rúni Rasmussen is Director of Cabinet Affairs at Prime Minister’s Office in the Faroe Islands, and is the project leader of the forum initiative.
Since we have heard about some major private initiatives for sustainable development lately, it is interesting to look at the Government’s policy on strategic growth in the Faroe Islands which we discussed with Rúni.
The new Growth Forum or Vakstrarforum — was initiated by the Faroese Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen. In the coalition agreement of the present government from September 2019 it has been stated that “The aim is to foster a sustainable economy and to prepare the Faroe Islands to tackle the challenges and harness the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Says Prime Minister Bárður á Steig Nielsen regarding to the Growth Forum:
“It is important for a country like the Faroe Islands to prepare for the future and the challenges that we may face. We need to seize the opportunities presented to us by new technologies as well as the constantly improving capabilities for international communication and collaboration. Welfare and prosperity do not appear at random, but need to be developed. This is why I have established a forum for sustainable growth in the Faroe Islands which has been tasked with exploring these opportunities. This is our way to establish a path to our continued welfare and growth.”
Prior to establishing the new forum, an administrative committee (established in 2017) made of representatives of all ministries had worked on identifying the ministerial responsibilities of the 169 UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). The National Bureau of Statistics (Hagstovan) is currently working on a Faroese SDG baseline report based on UN SG Indicators. Sound data are needed to build a starting point for measuring results and political success in each field.
The Growth Forum is chaired by the Prime Minister, and it is his initiative: a governmental forum, consisting of 4 ministers (Finance, Environment & Industry, Foreign Affairs and Culture) and 8 key leaders from different segments. The initial meeting took place in February this year. The establishment of the Growth Forum was delayed due to the Pandemic. The first topic was to discuss the potential of the Ocean for sustainable growth. A group has been formed to identify and look into sustainable ocean projects and areas and the feasibility for the Faroe Islands. Their recommendations will be presented in the September meeting to the growth forum members.
The second segment which is seen as a high potential economic growth field for the Faroe Islands is Information and Communication Technology (ICT). With a very good IT infrastructure, high-level education and a range of solutions built in the islands by local entrepreneurs (like Globe Tracker for Container ships and FishFacts, both Internet Technology-based solutions from the Faroe Islands) the sector looks promising.
With strong cables in place, Information Technology services developed in the Faroe Islands can be exported easily. In the last meeting of the group on April 16, 2 well-known entrepreneurs coming from the Faroe Islands, Heini Zachariassen, founder of Vivino, and Runar Reistrup, CEO of YunoJuno, and also member of the Growth Forum, had presentations. Heini shared his views and advice about the potential and opportunities in their sector. Rúnar had a presentation about mega trends and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Another high priority cluster in this Government to be developed is Green Energy. We had reported about the Faroe Islands’ ambitious goals for a Zero Emission Strategy until 2030, achievable mainly through wind and tidal energies to reduce onshore energy emissions. The bigger challenge at this point of time lies in the share of carbon emissions offshore — the fishing industry with its many vessels and their emissions. According to the EU climate action for transport, “There is significant untapped potential to reduce shipping emissions cost-effectively. Many technical and operational measures, such as slow steaming, weather routing, contra-rotating propellers and propulsion efficiency devices, can deliver more fuel savings than the investment required”. For nations depending so much on all kinds of maritime activities and transports as the Faroe Islands, there will be a lot to do here!
Offshore emissions and more access to land in order to build additional parks for wind energy are the most important tasks in the Green Energy cluster coming up. ICT development as a growth sector and particularly when related to blue economy /ocean based industries are overlapping with the energy aspects and with other improvements in logistics, tracking, planning here and will be showcased also next year, at the Fish Fair or Atlantic Fair — International Maritime Exhibition and conference, which will take place in Klaksvik 2022, May 17-19. It is the Faroese’ largest industrial expo and is staged every other year.
The last expo in May 2019 was a resounding success with 193 exhibitors from 21 countries and an attendance of 4,300 over the three days of the event. Adapting to the needs for future sustainable growth in the fishery sector is crucial for the people of the region and essential to deal with the effects of climate change. Innovation is also a key factor in ensuring sustainable solutions that enhance long-term economic viability of the fisheries. (taken from https://10times.com/north-atlantic-fishfair)
On a multinational strategy, the government of the Faroe Islands is very involved in the Nordic Cooperation. The collaboration with the Tourist Office and Convention Bureau is more randomly, but can be important to be integrated in the strategic growth sectors, as conferences and business exchange will help to spread the narratives of the clusters with the most potential.
Interview and Text: Johanna Fischer, tmf knowledge destinations for Visit Faroe Islands Meetings