Good and functioning freight and passanger transports are important prerequisites for continued positive development and prosperity in the Nordic countries. In the E12 final conference the participants learned about both the perspectives – and also about the view of the tourism industry on regional infrastructure.
Arve Ulriksen, Max Jansson and Magnus Burvall presented their views on E12 Atlantica Transport from the perspectives of trade & industry, service sector and tourism.
Mr Arve Ulriksen, CEO of Mo Industripark AS and Board Chairman of NHO Nordland in Norway, emphasized the E12 developments from the industry’s point of view and also spoke warmly about various green solutions.
– We have great growth potential in our region and many export goods – oil, minerals, gas, fish and timber. In order to maintain viable production, we have decided to invest in green energy, but if the quality of production is to achieve world class, even the logistics need to be at the same level, Mr Ulriksen says.
He is hoping for a comprehensive investment in the E12 route, and he even suggests that this route could be a European pilot for green autonomous transport.
The port at Mo Industripark is one of the busiest in Norway, and a new cargo pier is sorely needed. The port is an important link to global markets. In the long run, the new airport at Mo i Rana will be vital for growth in the region and will create new opportunities along the entire E12 route. Further, it is important to link the Nordic countries to the New Silk Road or One Belt One Road Initiative if it comes true – otherwise we risk to be left outside, Mr Ulriksen says.
But transports and infrastructure are not important only from the industry’s perspective. Mr Magnus Burvall, regional manager at Sweco engineering consultancy company, represented the service sector at the conference and he highlighted the importance of good infrastructure both for business and pleasure travel.
Today many communities cannot provide both housing and employment for their inhabitants. About a third of working-age inhabitants commute over the municipal boundaries to their workplaces, which is always regarded as a cost in macroeconomics since the time we spend travelling between two places does not create any value.
The time we accept to travel every day, our travel-time budget, has remained constant for many years, approx. 70-80 minutes a day. What has changed, on the other hand, is how far we can travel in this time.
– Consequently, infrastructure can enable expanding the region, creating functional regions and reinforcing regional centres. It contributes to broader labour markets, increasing growth and positive effects within most societal functions, e.g. the supply of public transport. Strong regional centres, in their turn, result in a more viable surrounding countryside, Mr Burvall explains.
Consequently, functional geography is more important than administrative boundaries and increasing travel requires but also contributes to better infrastructure.
– Travelling as such should generate possibilities in the future – for a larger proportion of people who can use flex-time and have a flexible working place, Mr Burvall believes. When it is possible to work during travel time also, it can create a value which should be able to influence the macroeconomic model for travelling.
Mr Max Jansson, CEO of Visit Vaasa, continues:
– People are getting more and more mobile also in their private lives. More and more people choose to live in another location some months a year – this is an obvious trend today. We are no longer forced to stay in one location only in order to perform our work. Tourism is constantly growing and we tend never to stay still.
– With respect to nature, it is important that people can get about easily and economically in the region. We should see the entire region as a destination instead of each and everyone making their decisions individually.
Mr Jansson believes that the region, despite its modest geographical size, could achieve a lot.
– The E12 project has given us a joint understanding of what should be done. We now need a clear communication plan so that the work carried out in the project can continue. We shall continue work so that we also in 2040 are an attractive region in northern Europe, he concludes.
Text and photo: Anna Sand
E12 Atlantica Transport – The project is a cross-border cooperation between partners in Finland, Sweden and Norway along the E12, focusing on development of a functional multi-modal transport route for goods and passengers, joint strategies for cross-border planning and future cooperation structures.
E12 Atlantica Transport partners
Kvarken Council (Lead part, FI), MidtSkandia (NO), Blå Vägen (SE) Region Västerbotten (SE), Regional Council of Ostrobothnia (FI), Nordland fylkeskommune (NO) Vaasa Regional Development Company VASEK (FI), Umeå Municipality (SE), Vännäs Municipality (SE), Vindeln Municipality (SE), Lycksele Municipality (SE), Storuman Municipality (SE), Infrastruktur i Umeå AB INAB (SE), Rana Utviklingsselskap AS (NO), Rana Municipality (NO), Polarsirkelen Lufthavnutvikling (NO), Port of Mo i Rana (NO), Mo Industripark AS (NO), Alastahaug havnevesen KF (NO), Helgeland Havn IKS (NO)