The public sector plays a significant role in society. While the national government establishes the political framework, the regional and local authorities have a crucial role in implementing it. This counts in particular for tasks like healthcare, education, culture, transportation, communication and development of the region.
Education is one of the most important tasks of the local and regional authorities. South Norway has a tradition of thinking internationally, and looking beyond the Norwegian country borders. A reflection of this mindset is the international schools you can find in both Arendal (Aust-Agder) and Kristiansand (Vest-Agder) at primary and secondary schools. At high school level you can find the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program in Arendal.
The region represents the most southern part of Norway, and its coastal and strategical location has marked its history and still plays a significant role for the public sector as much as for the private. In Vest-Agder, 90 per cent of the population live in coastal communes, and the number is almost just as high in Aust-Agder.
The public sector also plays a crucial role for regional development. An important measure for developing the region is taking part in international projects, for example EU-projects. In this context actors like the South-Norway European Office and Innovation Norway, in cooperation with the municipalities and counties, participate in the organization and elaboration of new projects.
There is established an extensive partnership – the Council of Agder – between the two counties and all the municipalities in the region. This partnership is formalized through a regional plan for Agder, Regionplan Agder 2020, where common goals, strategies and actions are set forth. There are five main priorities in the plan: Regional cooperation, Standards of living, Competence, Culture, and Communication.