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ASEM Business Forum

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the ASEM Business Forum in Brüssel, 18 October 2018.

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Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates,

Together, Europe and Asia account for 60 % of global production and global trade. Nine of the 10 biggest maritime countries in the world are ASEM-countries. 

This makes Europe and Asia natural partners. And shipping is one of the key areas of our partnership.

Green shipping is a business for the future, continuing to create jobs and welfare across continents. To ensure the sustainability of international shipping in the future, we need to reduce its environmental footprint.

And we need to address the threats to our oceans:

  • the effects of climate change
  • marine litter and pollution
  • illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and
  • loss of habitats and biodiversity.

More than ever, we depend on healthy oceans to meet our needs for jobs and resources. We must maintain their capacity to regulate the climate and support biodiversity.

Today, only up to five per cent of global food consumption comes from the sea.  We cannot reach our goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty without increasing this share.

This means that a greater share of the world’s food, medicines, energy and minerals will have to come from the oceans. And most of it will be transported to us by sea.

For all these reasons, we must manage the oceans better.

If managed wisely, the ocean will make it possible to meet a larger share of our basic needs. I am convinced that a sustainable use of the ocean will pay off. It may in fact turn out to be the smartest investment ever made.

To build a sustainable ocean economy we must stop the degradation of the world’s marine ecosystems.

And we need policies to promote economic development and increase ocean productivity.

A broad discussion on how to address this is crucial, but at the end of the day it all boils down to action.    

That is why I have established an international High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

It consists of serving heads of state and government from all continents, who are joining forces to work towards sustainable use of the oceans. Our goal is to advance a new contract that will both protect the oceans and optimise their value to humankind.

The panel will aim to promote science-based decision-making in the fields of ocean economy and ocean management. This includes proposals on sustainable fisheries, ocean-based energy solutions, tourism, new approaches to marine protected areas, and the ocean economy.

The panel will welcome input from all stakeholders. It will present a report on its work at the UN Ocean Conference in 2020. The Our Ocean Conference planned in Oslo in October 2019 will be an important event supporting this work.  


Ladies and gentlemen,

In order to be able to tackle the challenges we face, we need to act together.

The Sustainable Development Goals require us to include the oceans in our concerted global effort. Achieving this goal is important in its own right. But clean and healthy oceans that are sustainably harvested are also a prerequisite for reaching the other SDGs.

Marine litter is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns. When plastic degrades, micro- and even nano particles are formed. They end up in the oceans because plastic is part of many of the products we buy.

Since I started speaking, a further 75 tonnes of plastic will have ended up in the sea.

The UN Environment Assembly has taken a bold step and adopted a vision of zero emissions of plastic litter into the ocean.

In addition to domestic action, Norway works to combat marine litter and plastic in developing countries.

We have also launched an initiative to establish a multi donor trust fund in the World Bank to improve waste management and prevent marine plastic littering. Norway has set aside approximately 13 million US dollars for the fund in 2018.

I hope to see the business community join governments to reach the “zero vision” with regard to marine plastic littering.

I would also like to highlight the strategy agreed upon in the UN International Maritime Organisation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping.

It entails that carbon emissions from the global shipping industry is to be cut by at least half by 2050. Ultimately the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping to zero.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently released a new report underlining the grave impact greenhouse gas emissions have on our climate. The report identifies increased risks and the need for urgent action.

This is a clear reminder that shipping, like other industries, will have to undergo radical change to meet climate challenges. Such change will be demanding. We cannot continue business as usual with a continued growth in emissions. The maritime industry will instead have to direct its investments at low- and zero emission shipping.

Developing and innovating new technologies will be in high demand. I hope to see more efficient ships based on new environmentally friendly technologies. They should make it possible to reduce emissions while at the same time fulfilling the ever growing transport needs of global trade.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The transition to green shipping will require entrepreneurial skills, innovation and access to risk capital. It will also require well-informed and brave policy decisions.

Policies must take ecological limits and climate change into account. They must ensure an integrated approach to tackling environmental pressures.

In Norway we rely on integrated management plans to maintain the balance between conservation and consumption.

These plans bring relevant actors together from the public administration, the research and development sector, and not least the ocean and coast-based industries. If conducted right, integrated ocean management will ensure sustainable harvesting and food production. As well as employment, growth and welfare for generations to come.

The transition to green shipping hosts a wide scope of new intriguing business opportunities.

Let me give you some examples.

Firstly, in 2000 the first LNG powered vessel – a ferry – was delivered in Norway.

Now 250 vessels are in operation or on order globally.

New IMO requirements on air pollution has increased the interest. The shipping industry, engine producers, bunkers suppliers and IMO have by now overcome the barriers for using this fuel.

Secondly, in 2015 the world's first all-electric car and passenger vessel  -  named "Ampere"  - was put into service in a Norwegian fjord.

It demonstrated that electrification of car ferries was not just possible, but also a more efficient solution.

Today, more than 70 battery electric or hybrid-electric Norwegian car ferries are either in operation, on order or in the planning.

On a global scale, more than 240 vessels with batteries are either sailing or on order.

It does not stop with ferries: offshore vessels and coastal shipping realise the benefits of battery hybrid technology.

Thirdly, hydrogen will be the next chapter of zero emission fuels and technologies.

Several projects are in the pipeline. In 2021, we expect the first ferry with hydrogen-electric propulsion.. The project will contribute to development of rules and regulation for maritime use of hydrogen.

If the project gives the expected results, the Norwegian ferry fleet will have zero emission technologies by the early 2030’s.

These three examples demonstrate that pilot projects are needed in the transition towards green shipping. They play an important role as large scale laboratories for the maritime industry. And not the least: they open a large menu of business opportunities.

The bottom line is that the business sector is a strong driving force behind the transition to green shipping and a sustainable ocean economy.

Policymakers should therefore provide the business sector with incentives and a regulatory framework that promotes the innovation needed to make this transition happen.

The business community, on the other hand, should be prepared to grasp the new opportunities offered by greener technology.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No nation can solve ocean-related problems alone.

International cooperation across country borders, regions and oceans will be needed every step of this voyage. We need to work for cleaner and more healthy oceans together.

I believe that oceans are a highly productive arena for international cooperation.

This goes in particular for gathering knowledge on the oceans. Enormous areas of the seabed have yet to be explored or properly mapped, and coastal area ecosystems are not fully understood. Hence, more must be learned about the effects of human activity on marine life.

As acquiring this knowledge takes considerable resources and capacity, it is natural to collaborate. Knowledge sharing is the way forward.

We invite partners in Asia and Europe, developed and developing countries alike, to cooperate with us on all of these issues.

We want to share our knowledge and we want to learn from others.

We look forward to embark upon the voyage towards green shipping together with you.

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