The Barents Cooperation Calendar this fall is crammed with more interesting events than ever before. BarentSaga 3/2011 highlight some of them.

In October, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Barents Cooperation member states met in Kiruna. They meet once every two years to sum up and set out the main guidelines for the cooperation in the near future, and to rotate chairmanships. This time the chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC), went from Sweden to Norway. Somehow in the shadow but just as – if not more – important, the Barents Regional Council (BRC) met back-to-back with the Ministers, where the County of Troms, Norway, handed over the chairmanship to the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten, Sweden.

Only a month later, the Ministers of Environment of the Barents member states met in Umeå. Finally, they could erase three of the initially 42 Barents Environmental Hot Spots from the list. It might not seem much, but this step is highly valuable for more reasons than the benefit of the environmental clean-up in itself since it lays a foundation for the approach of the future work on the remaining hot spots. The Barents Protected Area Network (BPAN) and climate change related projects were also some of the agenda items. After two years as chair for the Barents environmental cooperation, Sweden handed over this task to Finland.

In Kiruna, Jonas Gahr Store, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, praised BEAC for being “one of the most successful and dynamic regional cooperation organizations in the world”. As a complement to the focus on high level meetings, and as a reflection of the dynamism pointed out by Minister Gahr Store, BarentSaga 3/2011 also wishes to feature the youth activities of the cooperation. Three articles in this issue are devoted to youth. Focus on the youth of the Barents Region is also one of the main political priorities of Barents Regional Council Chairmanship of Norrbotten for 2011-2013.

In the same spirit, BarentSaga also chooses to highlight the fact that in addition to the activities within the formal structures of the cooperation, there are also other very active fields of cooperation showing that in the Barents Region, there is a spontaneous search for cross-border solutions in various fields based on need and interest. The Barents Regional Youth Council (BRYC) and the library cooperation serve as two examples.

Here, you also find some follow-ups from the previous issue: the Barents Rescue Exercise and the final report from the research project aimed at finding ways to improve the coordination between the four Councils of the North.

Welcome to – the website of the Barents Cooperation – for the Calendar of Events, Working Groups, Barents Cooperation in Media – and much more.

For daily news from the Barents Region, BarentSaga recommends

Contributors to BarentSaga 3/2011: Lars-Miguel Utsi, Marjo Laukkanen, Karolina Banul, Julia Lapshina, Liisa Hallikainen, Mikko Hyötyniemi, Arto Vitikka, Anna Lund, Roy Hojem.

Many thanks to photographers and to Lars Hillerstrom, MSB.