This fall the prestigious Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto started up a new Nordic Studies Initiative with co-financing from the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM). It is the first time ever that the NCM is providing seed money for such an initiative in North America, and enrolment figures at the various courses are very high. This is testimony both to the potential that the Nordic countries see in increasing collaboration with Canada, and to the interest among Canadians in learning more about the Nordic Model.
To mark the start of the new initiative the five Nordic embassies in Canada, together with the NCM and the Munk School of Global Affairs, cooperated on a launch where different aspects of the Nordic region were discussed. In two keynote speeches Secretary General Dagfinn Høybråten of the NCM and MP Ville Niinistö of the Finnish Parliament reflected on the values underlying the Nordic Model and how these can provide resilience in a time of new political challenges. In an ensuing panel debate joined by Professor Anders Wivel of the University of Copenhagen and presided over by Master Hugh Segal of Massey College, the panelists discussed what potential lessons our countries can draw from each other.
The Nordic countries’ ability to combine a strong public sector with economic efficiency was one such point. The Nordic region is one of the most integrated globally, and combined the five Nordic countries constitute the world’s 11th largest economy.
That we are stronger together than individually is a key insight of Nordic cooperation. At a roundtable in Ottawa together with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and at a working luncheon with key Canadian interlocutors the day before the launch, Secretary General Høybråten and the Nordic embassies also had the chance to discuss how different Nordic solutions to global challenges might be relevant to Canada.
The Nordic region and Canada share many of the same aspirations when it comes to combatting climate change, ensuring gender equality and fostering sustainable economic development in the Arctic region. There is great interest in learning from tried and tested policies, and the new studies program might be a vehicle for sharing best practices. As an example, it has been estimated that by scaling up 15 already existing Nordic climate solutions globally, one could reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to what the European Union is emitting in a year.
The Nordic embassies in Canada are delighted that young people interested in our region now have a place to study the politics, economy, culture and society of the Nordic countries. It is our hope that the initiative will continue to thrive and lead to more student exchange, joint research projects and collaboration between Canada and the Nordic region.
The Nordic Studies Initiative is provided by the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (CERES) at the Munk School of Global Affairs. To read more abour the launch, click here. Finland's previous ambassador to Canada, Ambassador Charles Murto was a strong advocate of the Nordic Studies Iniative.
To learn more about the Nordic Council of Ministers and Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges, click here.