Speech/statement | Date: 2014-03-19 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
"Our common goal must be to seize the opportunities and ensure sustainable management of resources in the Arctic. The students at this conference will have a crucial role to play in this endeavour", State Secretary Invild Næss Stub said in her speech in Bodø on 19 March.
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President, ambassadors, professors, researchers and students,
I am particularly pleased to see so many students in the audience today.
You are the future – and you have come to a region of the future:
the High North – a region which is attracting increasing global interest.
Research and knowledge are the key to further development in this region.
Through your studies here, you will be better prepared to help define the future.
I would like to thank you, Mr Mellemvik, for the opportunity to speak at the Arctic Dialogue Conference today.
We are here at the High North Center to discuss the main developments taking place in the Arctic, which are:
- the impacts of climate change,
- increased access to natural resources, and
- increasing human activity.
But before I get on to that, I would like to turn your attention away from this region of cooperation to a situation which is of great concern to us all.
As you know, the situation in Ukraine remains tense.
Russia’s actions are totally unacceptable. Norway condemns the annexation of Crimea, as well as the military escalation and the illegitimate referendum.
We call on the Russian authorities to defuse the tense situation, to respect international law and to engage in dialogue with Ukraine.
Russia’s actions will affect Russia’s relations with the rest of the world, and Norway will stand together with our allies in NATO and partners in the EU.
We support the Ukrainian Government and its territorial integrity. We urge both sides to work towards a lasting solution to the crisis – one that is based on democratic principles and respect for human rights.
This crisis can only be solved by political means – through dialogue and mutual respect, and through good neighbourly relations.
I believe Russian and Ukrainian students in Bodø can set an example.
You are participating here in order to broaden your knowledge on the Arctic. This is important.
You are solid evidence of the close educational and research cooperation we have with Russia and Ukraine.
Seeking knowledge, as you do – sharing knowledge, as you do – is helping to make the future in the High North bright, sustainable and peaceful.
As you may know, Norway’s Crown Prince recently visited the Baltic State Technical University in St. Petersburg – a university that collaborates closely with the University in Nordland and the High North Center.
During his visit, he saw for himself how important research cooperation is for the well-being and prosperity of our societies.
The University of Nordland has a special relationship with Ukraine. A retraining programme for Ukrainian military officers has given new opportunities to 4000 former officers and family members. The university in Simferopol is a main partner - and we hope the cooperation with institutions in Crimea can continue.
(THE IMPORTANCE OF PEACE AND STABILITY – ALSO IN THE ARCTIC)
The situation in Ukraine reminds us how fragile peace and stability are – and how important it is to seek dialogue and cooperation with neighbouring countries.
Seeking dialogue and cooperation is the path to trade, prosperity and economic growth.
This is the case also in the Arctic.
The Arctic is a region of both opportunities and challenges.
It is a peaceful region of cooperation, respect for international law and good neighbourly relations.
Increased interest in the Arctic means greater potential for both cooperation and conflicts of interest.
Some of you may have read articles in the foreign press about a “Race for the Arctic”.
However, this is misleading. In the north, we welcome cooperation and competition, but not confrontation.
(LEGAL AND POLITICAL FRAMEWORK)
As the Arctic Ocean is an ocean surrounded by nation states, the law of the sea applies.
There is a legal framework in place.
Compared to many other areas of the world, there are in fact very few unresolved maritime disputes in the Arctic.
The law of the sea provides well-established rules on how to deal with overlapping maritime claims. The coastal states surrounding the Arctic Ocean, Norway, Russia, Denmark, Canada and the United States are all committed to this legal framework.
This was proven when Norway and Russia signed an historic agreement on delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean in 2010.
The agreement came after 40 years of negotiations, which shows that maritime delimitation can be quite complicated affairs.
However, we managed to find a solution within the framework of international law.
The agreement not only defines a border and thus improves predictability; it also opens up new opportunities for cooperation.
I addition to the legal framework, we also have arenas for discussing common challenges.
The Arctic Council is the most important forum for multilateral cooperation on Arctic issues.
The observer states to the Council – both old and new – play an important role by bringing their expertise to the Arctic Council’s working groups on climate, environment and sustainable development.
I understand that yesterday, the students at this conference attended a mock exercise of the Arctic Council.
Those of you who participated had the opportunity to get hands-on experience of how Arctic states, indigenous communities and observer states cooperate to find solutions. That is important.
During the Cold War, the border between Norway and Russia was a barrier.
For the last 25 years, we have been working with Russia to turn this barrier into a bridge.
We have done so by intensifying our cross-border cooperation in a number of sectors.
Close people-to-people-contact is at the heart of our Arctic cooperation.
The Barents cooperation, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, has helped normalise cross-border contact.
What makes the Barents cooperation unique is the combination of cooperation between central governments, local authorities and key institutions.
And here in North Norway the fruits of this cooperation are readily visible.
The number of Russian students in Norway has more than doubled since 2008.
Almost 1600 Russians are currently studying in Norway – and some of you are here today.
You are contributing to the quality of Norwegian higher education.
The High North Center is a prime example of the benefits of people-to-people contact.
Seven years after its official opening, this centre has become a leading institution for cooperation with universities, authorities and the private sector in Russia.
The High North Center is solid evidence of how cooperation and knowledge are at the heart of Arctic relations.
(CLIMATE CHANGE AND CHALLENGES)
When we talk about the Arctic, climate change is a major concern.
The melting of the Arctic ice cap has global implications.
The Arctic, in fact, is a barometer of global climate change. This is where visible changes first appear.
Changes are taking place that will have serious consequences for the entire world.
Addressing the climate change issue requires knowledge.
This is why knowledge is at the heart of our Arctic policy.
Indeed, research about this region is crucial for understanding changes that are taking place in other parts of the world.
Norway has invested heavily in research capacity on the archipelago of Svalbard.
The research community in Ny-Ålesund offers a unique opportunity for international scientific cooperation in the Arctic.
The same is true of the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), where Norwegian and international students and researchers are carrying out vital work.
At a latitude of 78 degrees north, they are filling the gaps in our knowledge about the Arctic.
On the one hand, global warming is bad news for all of us.
On the other hand, the melting ice cap is paradoxically opening up new commercial opportunities.
In the Arctic, investment opportunities are plentiful.
Fish, oil, gas, minerals, tourist destinations and centres of knowledge are all to be found here.
Our aim is to ensure that the Arctic becomes one of the world’s most innovative and knowledge-based growth regions.
We believe this is possible – and as young researchers, you can contribute.
The annual growth rate in North Norway was 9 % from 2000 to 2010, compared to 1.5 % for Norway as a whole.
In 2013, the county of Nordland broke all records by exporting fish for 8.5 billion Norwegian kroner – an increase of 27 % since 2003.
It is estimated that Norway has profitable mineral resources worth 1.4 billion kroner, with the greatest potential in the north.
Although this is a theoretical estimate – independent of the actual likelihood of exploration – it still indicates a vast potential.
The Norwegian Government wants to strengthen efforts to map mineral resources in the north, which is an important first step towards future investments.
We want to simplify planning processes, enhancing efficiency and predictability so that projects do not become unprofitable before they have even been launched.
Further investments in education and research are essential for job creation and a competitive business sector.
We will strengthen the links between research and business.
In this year’s Budget, we have increased funding for programmes that promoteinnovation and research within companies.
The grant scheme “Barents2020” has funded more than 100 projects. Private stakeholders and research groups are supplementing public funding.
And this is only the beginning. Our goal is for Norway to find its place among Europe’s most innovative countries.
Research should constitute 3 % of our GDP by 2030, which would be an increase of 1.66 % from 2011.
Increasing the global competitiveness of local industry is crucial.
Norwegian industry, let’s face it, will never be able to offer low-cost solutions.
But in areas where we have built up extensive experience and expertise, our industry can offer the best solutions.
(OIL AND GAS RESOURCES)
According to the US Geological Survey, one-fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves may be located in the Arctic.
Fossil fuels will remain an important source of energy for many years to come, even as we aim to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius.
As the cleanest among the fossil fuels, natural gas can play a central role in a low-carbon future.
There are those who advocate closing the Arctic to further commercial activities.
We believe it is possible to manage economic activities soundly and to develop technology that ensures sustainable development.
Norway has a track record of proving this in practice.
With high environmental and safety standards, Norway has developed a successful petroleum industry that coexists with sustainable fisheries.
Norwegian authorities have set strict limits on emissions to air.
Emissions of greenhouse gases from the Norwegian continental shelf are significantly lower than the international average.
CO2 and NOx taxes have contributed to the development of technology and CO2 efficient production.
One of the challenges we are facing is how to address climate change while providing a growing global population with the energy needed to support development and a way out of poverty for all.
In this picture, oil and gas will remain important for decades to come.
Given the large oil and gas fields around the globe that are reaching the end of their production, no one should underestimate the challenge of finding and producing sufficient oil and natural gas.
CO2 efficient production of oil and gas in North Norway can be part of the solution.
We believe it is important to strike a balance between old and new industries.
We must also develop a predictable regulatory framework that takes into account the need to stimulate economic activity – and at the same time protect the environment.
New commercial opportunities also bring major responsibilities.
Back in 1989, the Northeast Arctic cod stock was at an all-time low.
Today, it is estimated to be ten times larger than it was then.
This would not have been possible without close and constructive cooperation between Norway and Russia.
The results of our successful joint management in the Barents Sea – which includes both authorities and researchers – are literally being harvested by the fishermen.
The catch value of the fish resources managed by Russia and Norway alone is more than two billion dollars.
This example of close bilateral cooperation shows how different industries, like petroleum and fisheries, can coexist.
I hope you will keep this in mind while discussing the resources in the Artic from a global perspective at this conference.
(MARITIME TRANSPORT: ENHANCED SAFETY AND PREPAREDNESS)
In 2010, there were only four transit voyages through the Northeast Passage between Novaya Zemlya and the Bering Strait.
In 2013, the number of transits passed 70.
An ice-free Arctic could shorten distances between the North Atlantic and East Asia by about 40 %.
However, most current reports indicate that the Northeast Passage will only be a supplementary route for the time to come.
We expect the main increase in traffic to be related to petroleum activities in Arctic waters, rather than in transit traffic.
Almost all the maritime traffic in the Arctic today (80 % of the summer traffic and 90 % of the winter traffic) is in Norwegian waters.
As a coastal state, we have jurisdiction over large sea areas. This means that we have a major responsibility for maintaining a presence in these areas, and for developing monitoring and emergency response systems.
Let me illustrate how we are taking responsibility to enhance maritime safety in the High North:
We are moving towards the second phase of BarentsWatch – an integrated civilian monitoring and information system for the Norwegian Sea and coastal areas.
We have prohibited the use of heavy bunker oil by ships in the protected areas around Svalbard.
Search and rescue capacity in Svalbard will be strengthened further with the addition of two new rescue helicopters and a new vessel for the Governor.
Along with the other Arctic countries, we are establishing more binding cooperation in this area.
Together with Russia, we have taken the initiative for a mandatory ship reporting system for the Barents Sea under the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
This has increased the safety of shipping in the region.
The international code of safety for ships in polar waters being developed by the IMO will further increase safety in polar regions.
The Search and Rescue Agreement, signed by eight member states of the Arctic Council, was an important milestone.
It was the first binding agreement negotiated by the Arctic Council.
The second legally binding instrument, the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response, was signed in Kiruna last May.
Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded a project called “Maritime Preparedness and International Partnerships in the High North” here at the High North Center.
We have also decided to support an innovative project on search and rescue in the High North, called SARiNOR.
The maritime industry is working with other key stakeholders to reduce the risk of accidents and to enhance rescue capacity at sea.
Those of you who are participating in the conference tomorrow will have the opportunity to learn more about the Marpart and SARiNOR projects.
Let me conclude.
Common to our approach in all of the areas I have mentioned is the need for responsible action based on knowledge.
Without knowledge, we cannot carry out the tasks before us in a responsible manner.
Nor can we fully understand the complexity of the Arctic.
Research and science will be essential in developing solutions for the Arctic.
This is a joint responsibility – not only of the Arctic states, but of all who claim a stake in developments in the Arctic.
Our common goal must be to seize the opportunities and ensure sustainable management of resources in the Arctic.
The students at this conference will have a crucial role to play in this endeavour.
You are the future leaders of the Arctic.
This is why I encourage you to engage in discussions with politicians, business people and researchers here today.
Seize the opportunity: seek answers, be critical and challenge yourselves.
Your knowledge and engagement are crucial.