Speech/statement | Date: 2016-09-22 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Elisabeth Vik Aspaker's speech at the FutureBuilt reception at the Norwegian Embassy in Paris on 22 September 2016.
Ambassador, French, Nordic and Norwegian friends,
There is one thing that brings us together here today, whether we are architects, artists, city planners or policy makers, and whether we belong to the public or private sector.
It is the vital task of building a sustainable future. A task that is everyone’s responsibility.
Here in Paris, we can be inspired by the achievements of COP21. The Paris agreement is a vital basis for our agenda. We salute the pivotal role played by France in securing this key agreement.
Sustainability means several things. We must learn to live within environmental limits, and there is an urgent need to deal with the problem of climate change. Our countries are all dedicated to this cause.
The ultimate target of limiting global emissions to levels that will keep the rise in global temperature well below 2 degrees requires nothing less than a complete transformation of the world’s energy systems and a global transition to a low-carbon economy.
Sustainability also involves providing a healthy and environmentally sound physical environment for everyone, both as individuals and as communities.
As architects, real estate developers and urban planners, you deal with both these aspects of sustainability every day.
Urbanisation is just as strong a trend in Norway as elsewhere in Europe. Around 80 per cent of the population lives in towns and built-up areas. Our four largest towns are expected to grow by 30 per cent by 2030. We will have to deal with major challenges as regards land use, infrastructure, transport, health and the environment.
We will have to adapt planning and construction to a changing climate. This will require careful planning, but also bold changes to how we transport goods and use materials. We must construct climate-friendly and think “climate-smart” every step of the way.
Since January, new standards for buildings in Norway include improvements of 20-25 per cent in energy efficiency. All new buildings must use climate friendly energy.
No fossil fuel energy may be used to heat new buildings. This is an important step towards a renewable and sustainable building sector.
Norway’s relationship with the EU is extremely close, not least because Norway is part of the Internal Market as a member of the European Economic Area. As part of that very close relation, we cooperate in areas directly relevant for us tonight. Two of these are particularly relevant today.
The EUs Urban Agenda presents a political framework in order to meet the key challenges for European cities in the years to come. The city of Oslo has offered to coordinate its partnership on circular economy. Oslo is already chairing the Eurocities working group on waste.
Norway is also participating in Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe, a government-level initiative for collaboration on research and innovation related to urban questions. A number of Norwegian research groups are involved.
In addition to cooperation with the EU, two years ago, my government adopted new central government planning guidelines for coordinated housing, land-use and transport planning. A key aim is reducing carbon emissions. We are also supporting the pilot and prototype projects for sustainable development, such as the FutureBuilt programme.
Together with the Green Building Alliance, we have come to Paris in search of inspiration.
I know that Paris is the most densely populated city in Europe, and a city undergoing a great deal of change – and it is clearly also one of the most beautiful.
I hope that the Norwegian and other Nordic representatives here today will find plenty of good ideas to take back home with them, and that you will be able to share some of the smart solutions you have produced. I am sure that exchanging French and Nordic ideas and solutions will prove to be very fruitful for urban planning and for our efforts to transform our economies and make the green shift a reality.