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The Minister of Foreign Affairs' Opening of the Our Ocean Conference 2019

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide's opening statement at Our Ocean 2019 - a conference in Oslo to find solutions to promote clean, healthy and productive oceans, and to ensure sound marine management.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide opens the Our Ocean Conference 2019. Credit: Stine Østby, Medvind
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide opens the Our Ocean Conference 2019. Credit: Stine Østby, Medvind

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Presidents,
Excellencies,
Friends of the oceans,

It is with great pleasure, and with high expectations, that I open the sixth Our Ocean Conference here in Oslo.

A very warm welcome to you all. Around 100 countries are represented here, if we count delegates from governments, business, civil society and academia.

I would like to thank all of you for joining us for the next couple of days. A special word of welcome to those of you who are joining us via the live stream.

Our Ocean was initiated in 2014 by Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, and your continued engagement is greatly valued, John.

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The protection of the oceans is vital for our national interest and for the global community as a whole.

That is the simple reason why the Our Ocean conference was established.

The ambition was also to place ocean issues higher up on the international agenda.

I think we can safely say that this ambition has been achieved.

Over the last couple of years, the health of our oceans and the fundamental role this plays for the wellbeing of humankind has become an issue for all our governments and wider societies.

Ocean policy has become high politics.  

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Regrettably, the increased focus on ocean issues is also due to the growing urgency of the problems.

Our Ocean 2019 is being held against a backdrop of increasing threats to the oceans.  

Several reports over the past few years have documented the pressure the oceans are under – whether as a result of loss of biodiversity, ocean acidification, the overexploitation of resources, marine plastic pollution or climate change.

The aim of the Our Ocean conferences is not only to capture the world’s attention.

It is also to get the world to act.  

More than one thousand voluntary commitments had been made in the previous conferences, and we expect more than 300 new commitments by the end of this conference.

And these commitments are not just empty promises.

Studies focusing on two of the areas of action identified by this conference, marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries, have shown that the commitments are being followed up and implemented.

They are already making a difference to our oceans.

As a result of the commitments made at the Our Ocean conferences, the number of marine protected areas worldwide has almost doubled.

The Our Ocean commitments on sustainable fisheries have also been found to be highly significant for the development of sustainable fisheries.

New research shows that if we manage our fisheries right, we could increase global harvests by almost 20 %.

Delivering on our commitments to improve the management of oceans and coastal zones is not only vital for protecting our oceans, it is also crucial for unleashing the potential of a sustainable ocean economy.   

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Our ambition for this conference is to build partnerships between governments, industry, scientific communities and civil society.

To put knowledge, technology and finance to work to address the threats to the oceans.

If the oceans are to provide for the needs of future generations, ocean protection and the sustainable use of ocean resources must go hand in hand.

Norway will do its part.                        

The Norwegian Government has prepared a package of commitments, reflecting our integrated approach to ocean management and ocean protection.

Let me mention two of the commitments here:

  • First, in the area of floating offshore wind, which could become an important energy resource if we succeed in reducing costs. Norway (through Enova) has decided to grant the energy company Equinor, along with its partners, up to USD 253 million (NOK 2.3 billion) in funding for what could turn out to be the world’s largest floating offshore wind park to date.
  • Second, in the area of carbon capture and storage, the Government’s ambition is to achieve a cost-effective solution for full-scale CCS in Norway. A CO2 storage facility under the North Sea will be a key element in this. Norway has pledged to allocate USD 23.6 million in 2020 for the development of a full-scale CCS project, which will include exploration drilling in the North Sea.

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Our vision for Our Ocean 2019 is for it to be a place where people can connect and form partnerships that will lead to real results; where we build on the legacy of past Our Ocean conferences to generate new momentum for the oceans; and where we together confront the growing threats to our oceans.

Our Ocean is an arena for learning, sharing and acting for a clean, healthy and productive ocean.

***

It now gives me great pleasure to introduce the keynote speaker this morning: Prime Minister of Norway, Ms Erna Solberg.

Ms Solberg has shown a longstanding and passionate commitment to our oceans and to promoting the sustainable development goals, not least in her capacity as Co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s group of SDG Advocates.

Prime Minister, the floor is yours.

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