Plenary Session III: Creating Sustainable Blue Economies

Remarks by Minister of International Cooperation Anne Beathe Tvinnereim at Our Ocean Palau, 13 April 2022. The speech was delivered by ambassador Bjørn S. Jahnsen.

Presidents, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here in Palau at the 7th Our Ocean Conference.  

Norway had the honor of hosting the conference back in 2019 in Oslo. I am happy that we, ‘the ocean family, finally were able to meet again in person, here in beautiful Palau, at the National Gymnasium Hall. Palau is far from Norway, up in the High North, 11 000 kilometers from here, but the planet’s ocean is the same. It is the ocean that we share, manage, and protect.

Thank you so much to the governments of Palau and the United States for hosting this important assembly. After John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, initiated the first Our Ocean Conference in 2014, these meetings have become very important gatherings. Not the least since they focus on concrete ocean action and commitments. Let us continue to do that today and tomorrow.

Together with the President of Palau, the Norwegian Prime Minister is co-chair of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. Prime Minister Støre sends his very best regards. The High-Level Panel has presented an ocean agenda. It is a required platform for the world to sustainably manage 100% of the countries’ ocean areas. The panel provides valuable knowledge and suggested solutions to all main topics of this conference.

The theme of our session this afternoon is how to create sustainable blue economies, which is exactly what the High-Level Panel is all about.

We need a blue economy where we protect effectively, sustainably produce and share prosperity. All at the same time. We need to protect the ocean, particularly the most vulnerable areas. We need to continue producing from the ocean; however, we must do this in a sustainable way. Moreover, we need to share the prosperity from the ocean in an equitable manner. These elements need to be realized in a holistic and integrated manner, through open and inclusive processes. This is the clear message from the Ocean Panel.

Against this background, I will focus on two key issues of top priority for Norway:

First, on food security. The global food system is vulnerable to shocks. Now, we are in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. The war in Ukraine has catastrophic ramifications far beyond its borders. Food and energy prices were soaring prior to the conflict, but they have increased further since. Higher prices on food, energy, and fertilizers impact the short-term accessibility of food and the longer-term availability.

The Global South must strive to reduce their import dependency of food. Aquatic food is a potential silver bullet. We all know that the ocean can sustainably provide several times the food it produces today; food that may also be healthy for us and for the climate. In addition to increasing the production, we must ensure that we reduce high amounts of food loss and waste from the aquatic food sector.

This is related to my second point – namely, adaptation to climate change.

When we discuss ocean-based climate solutions, we tend to focus mainly on mitigation efforts. However, we must not forget adaptation to the climate changes that are already taking place. Where the most vulnerable are suffering the most. Small island states like Palau are victims of climate change, they must adapt to these changes, and this is costly. We will therefore increase our focus on adaptation in our development policy.

Finally, on concrete ocean commitments: Norway has already provided a list, so let me just mention two of them. First, we continue our support to the World Bank’s Problue fund. At COP27, I announced another Norwegian contribution to the fund of 9 million USD.

Second, we will increase our support to sustainable aquaculture development in developing countries via FAO, with 9.5 million USD, and in bilateral programs.

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you all for your attention.