National radio and television, 1 January 2015
Part of what it means to be human is being there for one another.
We see this in the way parents lovingly care for their children. In the way people look after each other in close relationships. In a neighbour’s helping hand. In a colleague’s words of support. In the contribution you make to your local community.
We all have the capacity to give of ourselves to others. This is what makes us whole human beings. And we see this capacity everywhere – in others and in ourselves.
Doctor Silje Lehne Michalsen went out to Sierra Leone to share her expertise and provide care for people in the desperate fight against Ebola.
She saved others’ lives, but nearly lost her own in the process. However, she survived and is a powerful example of what one human being can do for others.
During the course of this year, I have met many people who have made a difference for others. Let me mention a few:
Heidi, who started using drugs at the age of 14, and was later admitted to Gatehospitalet, the Salvation Army’s hospital for drug addicts. She is now free of her addiction, and actively sharing her experience in order to help others.
Knut Granheim, who led the evacuation of his local community in Odda during the autumn floods, while seeing his own home being washed away.
14-year-old Dyb Alnes from Godøya, who explained to me what we can do to help him and other young people with dyslexia.
And during Advent, we had the opportunity to meet this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, who is speaking out for the right of girls to go to school.
What all these people have in common is that they have made a difference for others.
We can all make a difference.
In November, we heard Odin’s story. Years of bullying led him to take his own life. He was 13 years old.
His story is deeply disturbing, and it has left a profound impression.
Odin once said, ‘There’s no point telling anyone. No one will do anything anyway.’
Exclusion and bullying can rob children and young people of vital years of their lives.
Children, young people and adults must all help to put an end to bullying and exclusion.
Adults bear a particular responsibility. Telling an adult should make a difference. We must show that we care. We must never turn away a child who’s having a difficult time.
Those of us who are parents must also get involved.
We must take responsibility for the way our children behave.
In this way, we can all make a difference.
This Christmas, some people have made an extra effort to help others.
People working in the health sector. Voluntary workers who have arranged Christmas parties for people who would otherwise have had no one to celebrate with.
Most of us have enjoyed a happy and peaceful Christmas with family and friends.
Some of us may have felt grief and a sense of loss.
There may have been an empty place at the table.
Someone who was deeply loved.
Some of those we lost in 2014 died of cancer.
It is no consolation for those who have lost loved ones, but I am glad to be able to say that cancer treatment is getting better all the time.
More and more people are surviving this disease.
Even more will survive in the future.
Those who work in the health sector are making a difference for others every single day.
Nevertheless, some people are diagnosed with cancer too late.
Some have to wait too long for treatment.
It is the responsibility of politicians to organise the health service better.
We have now set up diagnostic centres in all parts of the country. The purpose of these centres is to ensure a rapid diagnosis for all patients with suspected cancer.
We have also developed a package for the whole course of cancer investigation and treatment.
It is not the patient who is to be the package; the patient is to receive the package.
This means that patients will receive good, tailored treatment based on the most up-to-date knowledge.
For example, each patient will be assigned his or her own treatment coordinator.
In this way the system will be adapted to meet the needs of the individual patient. Many patients have previously found the opposite to have been the case.
It won’t all be perfect from day one, but we have made a start. We are working to create a health service where the patient comes first.
As of today, people with a major need for assistance will have a legal right to user-controlled personal assistance. This means that many people with disabilities will no longer have to adapt their lives to the system.
They will be able to decide themselves what form the assistance they are entitled to should take and who is to provide it.
This is a question of opportunities for all.
It is a question of equality.
We are improving our welfare schemes for cancer patients and people with disabilities. This is possible because we have both the human and the economic resources to do so.
In recent decades, our petroleum activities have been an engine of economic growth. They have created huge revenues and secure jobs, and have made it possible for us to develop one of the best welfare societies in the world.
We have known for a long time that our petroleum production would peak and then one day decline. There are strong indications that this point has now been reached.
New industries will have to generate a larger share of the resources needed to maintain our welfare schemes and help our country develop further.
This means that we must make it more profitable to invest in creating new jobs in Norway. We must be more innovative. This is why this year will see a historic effort to promote research, innovation and knowledge development.
This will enable us to embrace change. However it will also mean that some families will face more uncertainty in the coming year.
This is why it is so important to create new jobs.
This is why we have to prepare Norway for the future.
This process of embracing change will give us the opportunity to create a better and greener society.
Norway has a responsibility to make a difference in the efforts to mitigate climate change.
2015 will be an important year for the climate.
Towards the end of the year, the world’s leaders will meet in Paris with the aim of reaching a new climate agreement.
Norway is at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the new agreement helps to limit global warming. The agreement reached at the climate conference before Christmas was a small step in the right direction.
If we are successful in Paris, the new agreement could prove to be the most important international agreement of our time.
Norway has clear ambitions.
We will not wait for a new agreement to be in place before taking action.
Norway will continue to make a contribution at the global level, and is leading the efforts to protect tropical forests.
Norway’s own emissions will also be reduced.
We know that climate measures and economic growth can go hand in hand.
We need to develop new climate and environmental technology for Norwegian enterprises.
We need to expand the railway network and improve public transport.
We need to make our homes more energy-efficient.
We have a well-educated population and we are quick to adopt new technology.
We are in an excellent position to encourage green entrepreneurs and create new jobs.
Climate change is a global issue.
So is poverty.
In 2000, the global community adopted the UN Millennium Development Goals, with the overall objective of fighting poverty.
It is already clear that child and maternal mortality have been significantly reduced, that more children are now attending school, and that extreme poverty has been halved. Fantastic results have been achieved in many areas.
However, there is still much more that remains to be done.
One reason for this is war and conflict.
Last year, the world experienced major international crises.
Russia’s actions towards Ukraine are unacceptable, dangerous, and a clear violation of international law.
ISIL’s brutal advances in Syria and Iraq have horrified the whole world. Many innocent people, including women and children, have been forced to flee their homes.
Terrorists are willing to use any means.
We saw this clearly when more than 140 children and members of staff were shot in a school in Pakistan just before Christmas.
An Ebola epidemic is spreading through parts of West Africa. Two hundred Norwegian health workers have volunteered to take part in the response effort.
Many Norwegians are working in other parts of the world to make a difference for other people. Soldiers serving abroad. Aid workers in humanitarian organisations or engaged in UN operations. We are thinking of you all as we enter the New Year, and we send you a special thank-you for your efforts.
We are proud of you.
We are also thinking of the families of those working abroad, who are here in Norway and missing their loved ones at this time.
This evening, I would like to send a warm greeting to The King and Queen. The respect they enjoy from the Norwegian people is not due to The King’s constitutional role alone. The King and Queen have a unique ability to see individual people’s grief, joy, laughter and tears. Through their closeness to the people, their interest and presence, they have put their own hallmark on the Norwegian monarchy.
We send our very best wishes to the whole Royal Family for the coming year.
Some people have done extraordinary things. They set an example for the rest of us. Now we have the whole of 2015 ahead of us. We all have the opportunity to make a difference.
You too, with your particular capacities and determination, can make a difference.
For a neighbour, for a colleague, for your local community, or internationally.
The sum of many small acts can make Norway and the world a little better.
I wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year..
Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix