Here’s your ‘OMG! Trump won the election!’ guide to what it may mean for Svalbard


Tourism and research/work involving environmental issues will suffer. People and businesses that buy things from and/or travel to the U.S. and some other countries will benefit. Russia will get even more aggressive in the Arctic, which means Norway may step up commercial, military and other activities in the far north as well. And, yes, there will probably be a slight uptick in the number of U.S. residents and students, but hardly a mad stampede.


A trio of guests from Switzerland and Norway at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel watch U.S. President-elect Donald Trump give his victory speech Wednesday morning. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

Donald Trump’s win in “the biggest political upset in U.S. history,” as media worldwide are calling it, is already having a profound global impact in the immediate hours after the outcome became apparent. Global stock markets and the U.S. dollar are plunging. The Canadian immigration website crashed overnight. And many of Norway’s political leaders are saying it has drastic implications for the country’s national security.

All of those – and many other consequences – may have significant impacts on Svalbard, both on an individual level and for the archipelago as a whole. Among the most notable possibilities, based on recent history (such as the global recession several years ago and the Brexit vote) and analysis leading up to the election:

• It will likely be much cheaper for us to buy things from and visit the U.S., and much more expensive for people there to do the same here. That’s based on the kroner recovering from its slump against the dollar (the ratio was about five kroner to the dollar several years ago before slumping to 9/1 this year and recovering recently to about 8/1).

• On a similar note, if there’s another global recession, Norway will likely weather it better than most as happened during the past one. That had good and bad effects here, largely similar to the above, but on a bigger scale.

• It may effectively kill the UN climate pact reached in Paris of last year since the U.S. will likely abandon it. U.S. scentific research, especially on issues like climate change and the environment, will likely drop sharply as Congress chokes off funding. That’s based on a prediction the UK’s participation in research here will sharply taper off due to Brexit, which researchers have said will endanger many joint cooperative projects involving multiple countries.

Russia will be more aggressive about its Arctic activities and it’s unlikely the U.S. will contribute the assistance Norway has said it needs. Norway, in turn, may feel a need to boost its presence in Svalbard and elsewhere in the region even if its budget woes continue due to low oil prices.

• The percentage of U.S. residents and students here will likely tick upward slightly, but it’s not like there will be a mad stampede here. That’s based on a number of articles before the election detailing places people could move to if Trump won the election, with Svalbard often being mentioned as an easier alternative than more-known places like Canada.