“Research on the Arctic is important for both Norway and India. Indian researchers have been working in Svalbard for a number of years, and India’s interest in the Arctic is likely to increase further now that it has gained observer status is the Arctic Council,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
India’s National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research has its own research station in Ny-Ålesund. In addition, there are Indian PhD students at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). Svalbard provides unique opportunities for studying global climate systems and climate change. Research activities in the north are enhancing India’s understanding of the changes taking place in the Himalayas.
The foreign ministers also visited the Svalbard Satellite Station (SvalSat), where the combination of Svalbard’s geographical location and Norwegian technology provides almost continuous access to data from Indian Earth-observation satellites.
The activities in Svalbard are just a small part of Norway’s growing research cooperation with India. The Government has allocated NOK 50 million for research cooperation with India in 2013.
“We are living in the Asian century, and we are noticing this in the Arctic, too. In addition to Indian researchers, institutions from China, South Korea and Japan are also active in Svalbard. This provides opportunities for other forms of cooperation with these emerging countries, in both commercial and research contexts,” said Mr Eide.
The Arctic landscape and the international research community in Ny-Ålesund provided conducive conditions for discussing Norwegian–Indian interests in a broader perspective.
Among the topics discussed were developments in Syria and Myanmar, and regional security in Asia. The Indian delegation was also interested in opportunities for increased investment in India on the part of the Government Pension Fund Global.