Today is the last full day of Arendalsuka, the Norwegian conference for politics and democracy. After a week of events and meetings, the conference will be concluded tomorrow lunchtime with a concert from the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra.
A young conference
Arendalsuka is the largest political gathering in Norway. Inspired by the Swedish Almedalsveckan, Arendalsuka is comparatively young, having started in 2011. It takes place in Arendal, near to Kristiansand in the south of Norway.
A key part of the conference is the attendance of the Norwegian political parties, who each hold a party-speech during the week. The parties are all gathered together in Arendal, which gives the opportunity for discussion and debate across the different parties.
This year one of the main themes was Embedding Sustainability in Business. A number of speakers from Norway, as well as many international guests, were invited to Arendal to lead discussions and give talks.
The aim, as stated on the official website for Arendalsuka, is “to give a global perspective on international affairs and the world of business”.
Free for all
Attendance is high, with over 70 000 people attending the conference last year.
As with both the Danish political week and Sweden’s Almedalsveckan, Arendalsuka is completely free. There are no tickets and no sign-up sheets. Events are run on a first-come, first-served basis.
It is open for anyone to host an event or have a stall at the conference. The only rule is that participants follow the criteria regarding events and stands, as set out by the organisers of the conference.
Another topic raised during the conference was the rise of digital solutions in our everyday lives. Norway, like much of the rest of the world, continues to see an increase in digital services where there once was a physical solution. Such as a person being replaced by an AI, or a piece of paper being replaced by an online form.
It is very important for people to talk about technology as it advances, and take an active interest in what this means for them, both as individuals and as a society.
The openness of Arendalsuka means that there is the chance to debate openly, to participate in democracy, and to be politically empowered. This is an important part of Scandinavian culture, and is something that is reflected across Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
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