Final Panel of the Conference: “Nordic Ways–Values that Underpin Innovation and Global Economic Success” Moderator: Jay L. Bruns III (University of Washington); Dagfinn Høybråten, Nordic Council of Ministers; Jorodd Asphjell, Norwegian Parliament; Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden US Ambassador; Kåre Aas, Norway US Ambassador; Kirsti Kauppi, Finland US Ambassador, Þorbjörg Vigfúsdóttir, Kara Connect (Iceland).
1. Dagfinn Høybråten, Nordic Council of Ministers: Nordic countries combined population: 27 million people. Sixty years ago, common passport; common labor & education markets too. Proximity is important, but common values matter. Three core Nordic values guide the way we work together–Trust, Gender Equality, Sustainability.
- Trust: in Nordic countries, they basically trust people that they don’t know; among the world’s highest level of social trust (in people, institutions, business relations). If you have it, you don’t need as much regulation. (Trust is helping to found Nordic Innovation Houses, in Silicon Valley, now New York City, Singapore, Hong Kong)
- Gender Equality: we are not perfect, but better than in many other areas; gender equality in labor markets. Drives transparency, fairness. Increases in women’s employment have added 10-20% GDP last 40 years.
- Sustainability: Good for people, society, world, and good for business.
2. Þorbjörg Vigfúsdóttir: Education and health are keys to Nordic culture.
3. Kirsti Kauppi, Finland US Ambassador. “The most important value is equality.” And the best way to implement equality is through education. Especially primary education system. Yet “a good education system today is not [necessarily] a good education for tomorrow.”
4. Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden US Ambassador. Equality: Sweden has declared itself the first feminist government. It means all government policies have to note what they have to do with female equality. Sweden has 80% employment rate for women; USA about 67%. Strengthens economy, she says.
5. Jorodd Asphjell, Norwegian Parliament. View on Nordic ways. First visit to Seattle; been politician 17 years; 27 million people in Nordic economies.
6. Kåre Aas, Norway US Ambassador. Praises András Simonyi work on Nordic Ways. Had meeting in Washington State today with Governor Jay Inslee and other Washington officials, labor and business leaders about electric ferries, and beyond, to the Paris Agreement issues also.
Question & Answer Session:
Nobel Peace Prize 1901, selected by Norwegian committee, Alfred Nobel (who was Swedish, and made the other Nobel prizes Swedish-based) specifically made it happen; recognition in the era about Nordic regionalism.
Question on gender equality and quotas. Different countries are taking different approaches.
Comment on national health care approaches. Høybråten (formerly Norway’s Health Minister) responded that the universal care is based on trust value he enumerated above. Safety net will support you if you fall into hard times or health crisis.
Nordic immigration issues: Swedish ambassador says Sweden has most asylum-seekers; do want skilled labor; Swedes historically generous. Sweden “one of the richest countries in the world” so if we can’t help, who will? Issue is that the process takes too long, especially to get new residents and citizens into labor market.
Finnish ambassador says content of the discussion changed after 2015, from a wave of asylum-seekers; 10 times as many came as in previously years. “The situation got out of hand, out-of-control.” People got impression it wouldn’t end. We anticipate more population pressure from Middle East and Africa social histories now. Yet we think the situation will improve.
Another view: we think now to help refugees closer to their home countries; Norway now fifth biggest contributor to Syrian relief. European agreement on immigration is now working. Yet important to solve Middle East crisis, the real source of the refugee crisis. In 2015 there were 52 nationalities coming to Norway claiming to be from Syria; even Cubans!
Høybråten as last commenter, says 2015 a stress-test of Nordic cooperation. He feels they passed the test, and the cooperation is better now.