Global Citizen Award

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Atlantic Council Global Citizen Award in New York, 24 September 2018.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Global Citizen Awards in New York 24 September 2018
Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Global Citizen Awards in New York 24 September 2018. Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Thank you.

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking the Atlantic Council for the award and Dr Schwab for his generous introduction.

I am humbled to join the ranks of prominent women and men who have received the award before me.

Let me congratulate President Macri of Argentina on his well-deserved award.

(And I would also like to add my voice to the chorus of appreciation for the late Senator John McCain.)

A true global citizen.

In recent years, globalisation has come under pressure.

We should not be surprised.

Globalisation has been very beneficial to our societies.

But, we have to recognise that it has not been equally beneficial to all.

This is a very real challenge. 

The false divisions we are now seeing between global and local concerns worry me.

As does the way they are being used to drive a political wedge between groups in many countries. To pit parts of the population against a perceived elite.

And to challenge values and democratic institutions in a way that, in the past, would have been beyond reproach. To question even basic human rights.

In the face of these new trends you might think that the golden days of globalisation are behind us.

But in fact, we are more connected and interdependent now than ever.

Products, services, ideas and talent are flowing across borders like never before.

Our way of life and our prosperity are profoundly affected by the global nature of our societies.

So what does it mean, then, to be a global citizen?

In our digital age, we often hear that we are all members of the ‘global village’.

I would like to take that image of a global village and apply it to what I believe in:

In a village, you cannot survive without trusting your fellow people. Without joining forces in everyday life.

These are the kinds of principles that shaped modern Norway.

To me, they also embody the very essence of being a global citizen:

A sense of shared responsibility and purpose.

Understanding that we cannot avoid the consequences of climate change, pandemics, conflicts or suffering in other parts of the village.

This is what guides my strong engagement for the Sustainable Development Goals.

A deep conviction that achieving the SDGs is vital for all parts of our global village. Including small countries in Northern Europe.

Let me briefly touch on three areas that are key to my international engagement.

A global citizen understands that giving all boys and girls in all countries a free, quality education is the best investment we can make in our common future.

Education unlocks potential and spurs innovation.

It combats ignorance.

It empowers whole communities.

And it sets people free.

We have made good progress, and more children are now in school, even in conflict areas as has been a priority for us.

In a number of countries, particularly in Africa, there is now growing momentum to invest in education. The rest of the global village must do its utmost to support the leaders of these countries.

But it is not enough: at least 250 million children are still not in school today.

Secondly, every village needs a well – our oceans.

A source from which we can harvest enormous renewable resources.  In fact, estimates show that ocean-based industries could more than double their contribution to the world economy by 2030. 

But our oceans are also fragile.

Threatened by illegal fishing, increasing temperatures, acidification and plastic waste.

Just in the time that has passed since I started speaking, another 136 tonnes of plastic will have ended up in the oceans.

A global citizen understands the magnitude of dangers like these.

Of global warming, of threats to biodiversity and to marine life.

He or she understands the costs of failing to address such problems.

That is why my Government wants Norway to play a leading international role in ocean governance, and why earlier today I launched a High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

This week we also announce the establishment of the PROBLUE Trust Fund.

Together with the World Bank and others, we will dig deep in our pockets to boost our efforts to clean up our oceans.

Last but not least, a global citizen is someone who understands the importance of cohesion and cooperation.

Who understands how crucial multilateral institutions are as tools for saving ourselves.

And who appreciates how much we rely on a strong and effective UN.

On a World Trade Organization that can ensure free and regulated markets.

On a European Union in which former foes pull together in an effort to address common challenges.

And on a NATO that can deter and defend against any threat to its members.

I am sure that in certain circles, the Global Citizen Award would be considered an insult.

Something contrary to local or national interests.

I beg to differ:

A strong global engagement is vital for the future security, prosperity and welfare of Norwegians.

On the ruins of two devastating world wars, and under US leadership, we built a rules-based world order that has served us well over the last 70 years.

An interconnected world is not a figure of speech. It is reality.

Thank you.

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