Speech/statement | Date: 2009-04-21
Minister of Transport and Communications, Liv Signe Navarsete's speech at the opening of the ESERO Office at Andøya, April 21th 2009.
Opening of the ESERO Office at Andøya
April 21th, 2009
Allow me to extend my congratulations!
It gives me great pleasure to open ESA’s Education Resource Office in Norway, the first and only ESERO office in Norway to date. This is my first visit to Andøya, and it’s grand to see a vibrant local community taking ever further steps forward.
We politicians cannot create growth. Growth is created at the local level, by capable people - as here in Andøya. We politicians can only set the stage and give people the freedom to choose where in the country they wish to live. The government wants to bring all of Norway into play and to see a developing business sector in all parts of the country. Our present focus on broadband, roads, public transport and the railway will create better conditions for business development and population settlement across the length and breadth of the country. Regional policy is about turning small and larger localities into vibrant, attractive local communities where people can live a good life.
Space activities are playing an increasingly important role for business and economic development in the High North. By space activities I mean everything from scientific education and research to high-technology enterprises that make products and provide services. Our High North strategy affirms our intention to contribute to developing the space industry in the north and space-related service provision in Tromsø, Andøya and Svalbard. To this end we will play our part in developing space-related infrastructure.
“If you’re going to planet Mars, there's little point in first aiming for the stars” wrote Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge in one of his fine poems. And if there is one resource of inestimable significance for the further development of our country, it is knowledge. Competition for capable people can be intense and, unfortunately, science subjects and engineering subjects have not always been the winner, putting it mildly. Skills shortages in these fields create problems both nationally and internationally. That is precisely why it is so gratifying to see steps being taken to make these subjects more attractive, to increase teachers’ – and in the next instance pupils’ – motivation to keep up to the mark. This can get more people to opt for science subjects!
If Norway needs anything, it is science graduates. Norway is a country in a fortunate position, being rich in natural resources that the world wants: clean, running water, and oil and gas. Clean renewable energy is becoming ever more important in our time. But if we are to exploit this glittering starting point to the full, we must invest in research and education. Norway’s need for knowledge and skills in the international competitive climate is growing apace. We must play our part in shaping new technological solutions to the challenges facing us.
Norway and Andøya will continue to play an important role in international space research and space technology. Well-qualified people are in short supply in this field. However, good science graduates are also needed in other areas in the years ahead. The government has high ambitions when it comes to green energy and green workplaces. We wish to build further on our proud tradition as a maritime nation and energy nation. We will foster a green development of industry with a basis in our shipyard tradition, petroleum operations and marine industries. Green energy production with thousands of new jobs will be another focal area. All this will create many new jobs here in North Norway. We will also focus heavily on infrastructure in the region, as elsewhere in the country. These are just a few fields where capable people who are well qualified in natural science and mathematics will be needed in the next few years. Children with good minds are born all over Norway - and they shouldn’t need to go to Oslo to turn their good minds to account! That is why we need to safeguard higher education provision and other education around the country, and we need new quality jobs in the regions.
The fact that the ESERO Office is located here in Andøya is of course no accident. The spearhead competence in space research to be found here is known far outside Norway. Andøya Rocket Range is one of the most highly technological enterprises in North Norway. It has undergone rapid development since the Ferdinand-1 rocket was launched here in 1962, and has since then collaborated extensively with a number of international research entities. In the course of these 47 years, more than 100 universities and research Institute from across the world have availed themselves of the services here. The launch of Ferdinand-1, which I recall very well, attracted much press and radio coverage. Since then the Andøya Rocket Range has played a particularly important role, both for this region and for Norwegian and international space research.
I believe that locating the ESERO Office in Andøya will sustain the Rocket Range’s leading position in its field. The rocket range also depends on high-level skills in the future, requiring recruitment to scientific and technical positions alike. I know that the rocket range has collaborated closely for many years with the local school. This is an example we can learn from and build on nationwide. It is clearly far more exciting for a secondary school pupil to visit the rocket range and gain an insight into the work done here than to read a book about it at school.
However, I’m going to finish off with a book, actually a poem by Olav H. Hauge whom I quoted at the start.
Today I saw two moons
one new and one old.
I have a lot of faith in the new moon.
But it's probably just the old.
On that note I would like once again to extend my congratulations and to wish you well with the ESERO Office here in Andøya and with your task of stimulating renewed interest in and enthusiasm for science subjects in Norwegian schools.