Our Ocean Conference

Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende held two speeches at the Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC on 16 September 2016.

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Excellencies, friends of Our Ocean, (John,)  

Healthy and productive oceans are the life support system of our planet.  

With a rapidly growing global population, we will increasingly rely on the world’s oceans for food, employment, energy, minerals and transport.  

But for too long have we been taking large amounts of resources out of our oceans and poured huge amounts of waste back into them.  

This is, quite simply, not sustainable.  

Our common future depends on how we use, manage and protect the world’s oceans.  


I am pleased to start with some good news.

In June, the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures entered into force.

This is an important step in our fight against IUU-fishing (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing).

Those involved in IUU fishing are stealing from a common resource, depleting fish stocks and distorting fish markets.

Norway supports enhanced monitoring of IUU fishing and international cooperation to make perpetrators accountable.

And we support initiatives by the WTO to eliminate all subsidies that encourage IUU-fishing and unsustainable fishing practices.


In Norway, we have demonstrated that the oceans can be a reliable source of food, employment and economic growth.

There is no reason why the blue economy should not become a driver of growth in developing countries too – provided it is based on sustainable resource management.

Norway has a tradition of sharing experience with developing countries that want to enhance their management of marine resources.

I am pleased to announce that a brand new research vessel for this purpose will be operational from 2017.

The new vessel will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to assess fish stocks and monitor the state of marine ecosystems in cooperation with the FAO.


A staggering 12 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year, killing marine animals and impeding activities such as fisheries, sea transport and tourism.

Microplastic enters the bloodstream of marine organisms and accumulate in the food chains.

To combat marine plastic litter and microplastic, Norway is allocating more than 1 million US dollars to the United Nations Environment Programme in 2016.


The impacts of global climate change are deeply disturbing.

Earlier this year, when Secretary Kerry joined me on a visit to the Norwegian Arctic, we saw the retreating glaciers and the melting sea ice with our own eyes.

But under the surface equally dramatic changes are taking place.

Warmer water and ocean acidification are posing a silent threat to entire ecosystems and the economies that depend upon them.

We must all do our part, and the recent decision by the United States and China to ratify the Paris Agreement is an important signal to the rest of the world.

Norway will cut emissions with at least 40 % by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

We have pledged 184 million US dollars to the Green Climate Fund for the period 2015 to 2018.

And we intend to increase our contribution significantly by 2020.


Before concluding, I am pleased to announce that Norway has established ten new marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect cold-water coral reefs, and three new MPAs to protect the unique biodiversity along our coast.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The world’s oceans are interdependent.

Ensuring sustainable use of ocean resources is only possible through enhanced international cooperation.

It is time we face the challenges - and seize the opportunities.

The very life support system of our planet is at stake. 

Thank you.


Our Ocean Conference, 15-16 September 2016
Remarks (2) by Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr Børge Brende


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Thank you Senator, for giving me the floor yet again.

On World Ocean Day, in June, I met a class of 17 year-olds at a secondary school not far from Oslo.

These young people were concerned about how we will feed a growing global population when most fish stocks are already over-fished or fully exploited.

They were worried about the impacts of climate change on marine life.

And they asked what could be done to reduce the enormous amounts of pollution and plastic litter in our oceans.

Not easy questions to answer.

What I told them is what I will say to you:

We have no choice but to find a better balance between use and protection of living marine resources.

In other words: we must make healthy and productive oceans a global priority.

The sustainable development goals, and in particular SDG 14, provide us with a common framework.

And conferences like Our Ocean are crucial as we keep pushing ourselves – and each other – to formulate better policies, make more progress and document results.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that Norway has decided to host the 2019 edition of the Our Ocean conference.


For Norway, sustainable use of ocean resources is the very foundation of our prosperity and well-being. Today and in the future.

For this reason, we are developing a National Ocean Strategy that will include a comprehensive approach to the role of the oceans in Norway’s foreign policy.

I can assure you that Norway’s ocean policy will continue to be firmly based on international law.

And we will redouble our efforts to promote sustainable ocean management in our foreign policy.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The oceans have always been a source of inspiration - for explorers, artists and entrepreneurs.

Now it is time we let the oceans inspire us - to take the necessary action to safeguard them for the future. 

I am looking forward to welcoming you all in Norway in 2019.

Thank you. 

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