EAT Stockholm Food Forum

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Stockholm, 1 June 2015.

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Your Royal Highnesses,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum. I will talk today about the issues at stake at the global level.

The two greatest challenges we face globally are extreme poverty and climate change. In September we will launch the new Sustainable Development Goals, and at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December the world must adopt a new climate agreement.

And while we deal with these issues, we also need to ensure sustainable food production.

Let me start with the issue of poverty.

The overarching objective of the proposed UN Sustainable Development Goals is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. This is a huge challenge. Not least because development demands access to energy, and this often challenges our sustainability goals.

The good news is that we have a wealth of experience to build on, gained from 15 years of work to reach the Millennium Development Goals. I have been co-chairing the UN Secretary-General’s Advocacy Group for these goals. Let me highlight the three most important lessons I have learned:

First, crises and conflicts are the main obstacles to poverty eradication as well as to achieving other development goals. Therefore, in order to eradicate extreme poverty we have to address crises and conflicts.

Second, education is one of the keys to building strong societies and eradicating poverty. Educating the girl child is particularly important, as this affects not only her own health and economic opportunities, but also the situation of her family for generations to come.

Earlier this year I went to Vietnam, a country that has come quite far in combating poverty. In the Lao Chai province I got the pleasure to visit a school with children eager to learn. The girls on the picture said to me: “I want to become a teacher. I want to become a doctor”.

Not only the boys, but also the girls had strong ambitions for their lives.

So – if I ever were to write a book on “Poverty Eradication for Dummies” – empowerment of women and their inclusion in the economy would be the very first chapter!

Third, we need to break down the barriers between sectors in development efforts. We have learned that each year a girl stays in school after primary school drastically improve her ability to protect herself against early pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases. There are many other synergies like this that we need to tap into.

When it comes to climate change, we need to see an ambitious agreement in Paris, which builds on individual countries’ contributions and mobilises a concerted, global effort.

There is no contradiction between tackling climate change on the one hand and promoting development and reducing poverty on the other.

The New Climate Economy report has said that low-carbon growth is possible if we make the right decisions.

Tackling climate change will be a challenge, but it will also provide opportunities for promoting development and change. A green transition needs to take place.

We will do our part. Norway’s target for the Paris agreement is to reduce emissions by at least 40 % by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. We aim to do this jointly with the EU. We fully subscribe to the long-term objective of becoming a low-emission society, we underline the importance of innovation and technology development, and we see the opportunities that the green transition will provide.

We will also continue our involvement in international climate action. In 2015, we have allocated 3 billion Norwegian kroner to the International Climate and Forest Initiative. We will maintain at least this level until 2020 to support further reductions.  

On a recent visit to Indonesia, I witnessed the vulnerable rainforest ecosystem on the island of Sumatra, as you can see from the picture. It is clear that we must each do our part to ensure that we preserve the biodiversity of the rainforests, build a strong framework for sustainable forests and include indigenous peoples in the decision-making process.

With the right set of policies and strong public–private partnerships, I believe we will find ways to make commercial profit through increased agricultural production. For many developing and emerging economies, this will be of key importance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In order to eradicate poverty and tackle climate change, we must focus on sustainable consumption and the management of our oceans, forests, fresh water and biodiversity. There needs to be an increase in food production to feed the growing population of the world. We must therefore encourage people to have a healthy and nutritious diet based on sustainably-produced food.

I would like to quote two statements from the Rio + 20 declaration, The future we want, which I see as particularly important: ‘Everyone has the right to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food’, and: ‘Healthy marine ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture have a crucial role for food security and nutrition and in providing for the livelihoods of millions of people.’

Norway’s main contribution to the global food market is its production and export of seafood. We believe that seafood plays a significant, but not yet fully recognised, role in global food security and nutrition.

The oceans are a vital provider of livelihoods and nutritious food. It is therefore clear that we must aim to manage them sustainably and keep them clean. Globally, the responsible management of our oceans and natural marine resources is essential. We must make use of the resources we have today, but also ensure that there are resources available for future generations.

Fish farming is now the fastest growing food production sector. This is good news, because as the slide shows, fish is one of the most efficient converters of feed into high quality food. In order to maintain Norway’s position as a world-leading producer and exporter of salmon, we are pursuing a policy that enables growth and competitiveness within a framework of environmental sustainability.

My Government also attaches great importance to marine research. We have increased the budget allocation for marine research and made it a priority.

We need more knowledge about ocean ecosystems, and about the connections between seafood and human health.

Norway has a world-leading position in this field and wecan make a global contribution by sharing our experience and knowledge on sea-based production and principles of ecosystem management.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We must unite and work together to tackle climate change, to eradicate poverty and to ensure sustainable food production. These aims are not incompatible with each other. We need to work in parallel, see the different issues in connection with each other, and find good solutions.

I am glad that EAT puts these challenges on the agenda. Many important presentations and discussions will be held here over the next two days. I wish you every success with this important forum.

Thank you.