The Arctic in a global context

Tromsø, 24 January 2017

Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende's statement at the session on Arctic in a global context at the conference Arctic Frontiers.

The Arctic is a region of stability and peaceful cooperation, and the overall goal for Norway's Arctic policy is to make sure it stays this way. Because, in today's world, peace and stability is not something that should be taken for granted – anywhere.

Still - in the Arctic - countries from three continents have found ways of working together based on common interest and respect for international law. We are developing new knowledge, and we are building smart regional institutions.

This is crucial. Because stability in the Arctic is a major contribution to global peace. It is a precondition for economic growth. And it is fundamental for achieving the global sustainable development goals.

***

In the years to come, we will see an increasing demand for Arctic resources. A growing global population will need more food, more energy, more minerals and more goods will need to be shipped between continents.

The Arctic is mostly ocean - and the blue economy holds great promise for new investments, growth and employment. For Norway, the ocean is the very foundation of our economy. As much as 80 % of Norway's sea area is located north of the Arctic Circle.

We therefore have a strong interest in promoting sustainable ocean management in this region. An interest I am sure we share with all the other Arctic states.

We want Northern Norway to be one of the most innovative and knowledge-driven regions of growth in the world.To achieve this, we must continuously identify greener, smarter and more innovative ways to use Arctic resources.

We need even closer regional cooperation. And we must make sure the institutions we are setting up are robust enough to handle the rapid changes taking place in the Arctic.

***

Because: while the world is changing rapidly, the Arctic is changing even faster.

In the Arctic, global warming is taking place at double speed. Whole landscapes are vanishing before our eyes. Fish stocks are migrating. Energy, minerals and shipping routes are becoming more accessible.

We must readjust our policies to the new reality – and to the new economic opportunities that are facing the Arctic. Not least must we avoid that these changes - and the opportunities they bring along - become sources of tension and conflict.

The Arctic Council has proven instrumental in finding common solutions to regional challenges. A robust Arctic Council - firmly supported by member states and observer countries - is a major contribution to continued stability in the Arctic.

The Council meeting in Alaska in May this year will mark the end of a successful US chairmanship. And I look forward to working with the Finnish chairmanship - and all the other Arctic countries - to further develop the work of the Council, not least in the field of economic development.

***

Together, we can make the Arctic a global model for sustainable growth - based on knowledge, cooperation and respect for international law.

Our vision should be for the Arctic to be the best managed region of the world. If we succeed, we will not only ensure the prosperity and well-being of millions of people who depend on Arctic resources - we will also be making a contribution to a safer, more stable and more sustainable world.

Thank you.