The Northern Forum is a non-profit, international organization composed of sub-national or regional governments from eight northern countries.
Northern regions share characteristics that set them apart from other areas of the world. These include:
- Economies based upon the extraction of natural resources.
- Lack of internal capital resources.
- Limited infrastructural development.
- Harsh climates and vulnerable ecosystems.
- Diverse and relatively strong indigenous cultures.
- Sparse populations.
Such complex factors create unique challenges for regional Governors and other executives.
From throughout the North, the Northern Forum brings these leaders together to address common political, environmental and economic issues.
In today's world, where climate change and globalization create new challenges for the Northern regions of the world, the ability of the Northern Forum to bring together these regions and find new partners at the international level, such as the UNDP and the UNEP and networks of regions around the globe, opens new horizons for its members.
The idea of creating an organization of northern regional governments was raised in 1974 by the government of Hokkaido, Japan, during the first of a series of international conferences on northern issues.
The Northern Forum developed from a Northern Regions Conference held in 1990 in Anchorage, Alaska, attended by more than 600 delegates from 10 countries.
The Forum was formally established in November 1991.