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Northern Periphery and Arctic

Region's countries

The Northern Periphery and Arctic Transnational Region comprises the northernmost part of Europe including parts of the North Atlantic territories. The 2021-2027 Interreg programming period covers Northern and Eastern Finland, Northern and Western Regions of Ireland, and Northern Sweden. Outside the EU, it includes the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Northern parts of Norway. Compared to the previous programming period (2014-2020), the new area does not include Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the Norwegian region of Vestlandet (southern region) anymore. On the other hand, the programme includes now the Irish counties of Roscommon, Cavan, Monaghan, and Tipperary. A map comparing the old and new borders can be seen here.

 

Policy framework

1.     Transnational cooperation programme

The Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme 2021-2027 focuses on three priorities: 

  • Priority: 1 - Strengthening the innovation capacity for resilient and attractive NPA communities 
  • Priority: 2 - Strengthening the capacity for climate change adaptation, and resource sufficiency in NPA communities 
  • Priority: 3 - Strengthening the organisational capacity among NPA communities to make use of cooperation opportunities. 

Climate change adaptation is widely considered in the Programme document, being a key topic of Priority 1 and 2. Innovation capacity as a means to adapt, manage and respond to change is an explicit goal addressed by Priority 1, within the Specific Objective 1.1 (RSO1.1. Developing and enhancing research and innovation capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies). Priority 2, specifically dedicated to adaptation is organised around three specific objectives addressing energy efficiency (RSO2.1), disaster risk reduction (RSO2.4) and transition to circular and resource efficient economy (RSO2.6). 

The programme will support the transfer of knowledge and experiences between different areas of the transnational region, and the creation of new transnational networks. The activities should strive for sustainable development, with equal opportunities for men and women and inclusion of underrepresented groups. 

Moreover, improving transnational cooperation, covered by Priority 3, is recognised as enabler to develop more resilient communities, by implementing new macro-regional strategies, sea-basin strategies, as well as other territorial strategies. 
 
For the previous programming period (2014-2020) the Interreg V B considered climate change adaptation explicitly in its thematic objectives as well as a key component of its horizontal principle about “Environmental sustainability” .

 

2.    Macro-region strategies

The NPA region partly corresponds to the area of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The strategy in fact covers the territories of the EU member countries Sweden and Finland, and welcomes cooperation with the EU neighbouring countries Iceland and Norway. For more information, see the Baltic Sea page.

 

3.     International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

Together with the Atlantic Area and the North Sea, this region is part of the area covered by the OSPAR ‘Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic’. The Northern Periphery and Arctic area corresponds to the OSPAR sub-region ‘Arctic Waters’. Under this convention, climate change (and ocean acidification) is addressed as a cross-cutting issue for knowledge generation, monitoring of impacts and the design of management options that aim at increasing ecosystem resilience.

The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum in the Arctic region. It has a circumpolar coverage, which makes it larger than the Northern Periphery and Arctic transnational region. Its members are national governments (Canada, Denmark including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and United States) and representatives of Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants. Climate change is addressed, in particular,, by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) as well as by other working groups of the Arctic Council. AMAP has established a Climate Expert Group. The group compiles and assesses data and information arising from the AMAP monitoring programme and other relevant research and monitoring activities.  The 2021 AMAP report “Arctic Climate change update: key trends and impacts” summarizes the latest findings for the Arctic region.

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the intergovernmental cooperation forum of European Nordic States which involves Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. According to its 2030 vision, the Nordic region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world in 2030. The action plan (2021-2024) for Vision 2030 describes how to achieve the objectives of the vision through a series of initiatives linked to the vision’s three strategic priorities: a green Nordic Region, a competitive Nordic Region, and a socially sustainable Nordic Region. Adaptation to climate change is especially pursued through the ‘green Nordic region’ priority, It aims at developing knowledge on the sustainable and climate-adapted spatial planning (objective 1), fostering nature-based solutions for biodiversity and the climate (objective 2), and actively promoting the implementation of agreements on the environment and climate through international cooperation (objective 5). The Nordic Council of Ministers has funded a four-year Programme on Nature-based Solutions. The programme consists of five projects running from 2021 to 2024 to encourage the Nordic countries to cooperate and enhance their knowledge base on nature-based solutions, restoration, climate mitigation and blue/green infrastructure.

 

4.     Adaptation strategies and plans

The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) is a forum for intergovernmental cooperation specifically for the Barents region and has Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the European Commission as members. The BEAC has adopted the first 'Action Plan on Climate Change for the Barents Cooperation' in 2013. It was updated in 2017 and in 2021, after that Barents environmental Ministers called for a strengthened climate action beyond 2020 with enhanced contributions from all Barents working groups. The 2021 Action Plan addresses the challenge of transitioning to low-carbon and climate-smart solutions while enhancing adaptation capacity and awareness in the Barents region. The 2021 Action Plan covers activities for mainly 2021-2025, while another revision of the Plan is planned in 2025.

 

Examples of projects funded in the 2014–2020 period.

Examples of projects funded by the NPA Programme 2014-2020 are reported below.

The CLIMATE (Collaborative Learning Initiative Managing and Adapting to the Environment) project (2017-2020) aimed to promote and improve climate change awareness in European peripheral rural communities through a knowledge-based approach and community led sustainable resource planning. It brought local authorities in remote, sparsely populated areas from Sweden, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and the Faroes islands together to develop adaptation plans. A best practice model and step by step guide for local authorities across the NPA region was developed. The project practically supported three pilot municipalities of NPA region in preparing their adaptation plans.

The ANH (Adapt Northern Heritage) project (2017-2020) supported communities and local authorities to adapt northern cultural heritage to the environmental impacts of climate change and associated natural hazards through community engagement and informed conservation planning. The project developed a toolkit composed of five tools to help understand how climate change will affect northern historic sites and explore specific adaptation options. Nine historic sites from across northern Europe are used in Adapt Northern Heritage as case studies and informed the design of the project’s toolkit.

The Water-Pro (Northern Runoffs into Profits) project (2016-2019) aimed to develop and transfer eco-efficient tools and models for runoff management in agriculture and mineral extraction in Northern and Arctic areas. More frequent and intense rainfall, as projected under climate change, will bring further challenges in controlling runoffs and water safety and in meeting water quality objectives set by the European Water Framework Directive. The project developed a toolbox of good management practices for the agricultural and mining extraction industries

The COAST (Sustainable Resilient Coasts) project (2020-2022) aimed to provide a roadmap for protecting, promoting and developing the cultural and natural heritage of sparsely populated and remote coastal communities. Based on four demonstration projects, the project delivered a governance toolbox for local authorities to support the sustainable development of coastal zones.