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Events / Nordic Model

Nordic Horizons takes a one year break

Nordic Horizons held a meeting in the Scottish Parliament in June 2019 to celebrate 10 years of Nordic experts coming to speak in Scotland - and announce a one year pause in activity. Here's why.

Nordic Horizons

Since 2010 Nordic Horizons has brought six Nordic experts a year to Scotland to share experience and ideas from some of the world’s most successful countries. We’ve covered issues as varied as Finnish Prisons Policy, Norwegian Outdoor Kindergarten, the Icelandic Crowd-sourced Constitution, Swedish Voting Systems and Copenhagen’s status as the world’s first Eco-City. We held a fringe meeting on the reality of life in the Arctic during the 2018 Edinburgh Arctic Forum and a day-long event on Nordic relations with Europe two months after the Brexit vote (resulting in the book McSmorgasbord). All our events have been audio recorded, most have been live-streamed by Democracy TV and Chris Smith – who’s run our social media including a 3000-strong Facebook Group — has made TED-style videos with some speakers.

With support from the Scottish Government, the Nordic consulates and embassies, and bodies like the Europa Institute and the Institute of Governance at Edinburgh University, we hope Nordic Horizons has contributed to a policy shift in Scotland, where Nordic models are better understood and more accessible than they were in 2010. But as a group of volunteers, we decided to call a one-year pause – and maybe a permanent halt at a Nordic Rethink event on Thursday 20 June 2019 in the Scottish Parliament, in conjunction with Scotland’s Futures Forum, the Parliament’s futures think-tank.

Running Nordic Horizons has been a lot of fun but also a LOT of work – year in – year out. Someone has to find, book and take care of speakers for the duration of their time here; agree, organise and book travel, hotels, venues and publicise events; contact and persuade the relevant folk from Scottish civic society to attend meetings and respond to our Nordic speakers, and prepare the necessary accounts and reports to bid for Scottish Government cash, which has paid for speaker’s hotels, travel, a small amount of administrator time (which Lily Greenan has easily quadrupled with volunteer days) and a very small budget for travel.

We’re grateful to Democracy TV for live-streaming events, but have had to acknowledge we are currently reaching a very limited number of people with our events-based, “Nordic sages on the stage” format. Is it the best way to operate in future, or would something quite different be less demanding time-wise with more far-reaching impact?

All our steering group members – co-founder Dan Wynn, Mike Danson, Mike Vickers, Lily Greenan and myself have contributed loads of time over the years, not least coming to Edinburgh for meetings when three of us live fairly far beyond. Lily and myself have hardly had a summer or Christmas where we haven’t been booking guests or preparing Scottish Government funding bids. We all need a break!

 So Nordic Horizons launched this new website at our June 2019 meeting. It’s constructed by the brilliant Ken Barrett from Lesley will update posts when events make them newsworthy again and hopefully revitalise the information and insights we’ve collected over a decade. Lesley will also continue to represent Nordic Horizons at key events. Apart from that, the group will take a break and report back in June 2020 on future ways to develop Nordic thinking in Scottish policy development.

If anyone wants to contribute their TIME (and please, not just big ideas for the same small group to undertake!) do get in touch with Lesley via

Supported by the Scottish Government from 2015 till June 2019

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