New Year Speech 2024

Good evening everyone, the turn of the year is a time to take stock. Of the year that is now behind us, and the year that is to come. And let’s be honest. For many of us, 2023 has been a year where we have had to contend with forces that were beyond our control, forces that left us feeling anxious and vulnerable.

Check against delivery (the original was delivered in Norwegian)

Prime Minister Støre standing in front of a christmas tree. Suit with tie.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Credit: Fredrik Varfjell / NTB

But it was also a year when we were reminded that people are never powerless.

One of the most vivid images that has stayed with me is from Ål in Hallingdal.

Up to 8 August, Olaug and Halgeir Viken lived in a house along the far west of the Stranda Fjord.

There were heavy rains that day. Late in the afternoon there was a great rumble. A mudslide came crashing down from the hillside.

‘I saw the kitchen window explode and felt the blast of pressure. And then I don’t remember anything else… until I suddenly found myself lying in a heap outside,’ said Olaug.

The couple managed to find each other and made their way to the main road, where they flagged down a car and phoned the emergency services.

Their house was completely crushed. They lost everything.

When sifting through the debris afterwards, they found only one thing that was unscathed, one thing to take with them to a new home: a small piece of a wall containing three photos. Their wedding photo and a photo of each of their two boys when they were young. 

The extreme weather event Storm Hans destroyed crops, roads, bridges, buildings and homes in many places in the southern part of Norway. Caravans and bales of hay were swept into the rivers.

Olaug and Halgeir were stoic about the mudslide and flood when I visited them in the local medical centre in Ål.

Dealing with things stoically – even something of this magnitude – is how we tend to tackle things here in Norway. But it was still easy to see that they – like others – had felt frightened and unsafe.

Many people lost most of their possessions. But they did not lose each other.


In the year we have left behind, many people had their lives, surroundings or finances turned upside down. By forces beyond their control.

By extreme weather events – across the globe.

By a cost-of-living crisis – and rising interest rates.

By wars and conflicts – that take lives and leave fear and despair in their wake.

A few weeks ago I received an email from 14-year-old Maria Al-Farra from Bergen. She wrote about family and friends who had lost their lives in Gaza:

‘We watch the news every day and what we see makes us cry. All the innocent children who are going through this simply because they were born in Gaza; shouldn’t this be a just world where everyone’s life is worth the same?’ she asked me.

Maria you are absolutely right. All children, all people, have the same worth.

Terrorism and war always hit civilians the hardest.

Young people at a music festival were among those who were attacked and murdered in Israel on 7 October.

The people of Gaza have been living under conditions of unimaginable suffering, week after week. Tens of thousands have been killed and injured, many of them children.

It is deeply distressing.

Norway is doing what it can to prevent the conflict from spreading further in the region.

Norway’s position is clear: Stop the war. People in need must be given help.


We are all diminished by war.

At the same time, History has taught us that we can bring wars to an end. And that people, with their inner strength and innate sense of humanity, can get back on their feet after times of war and hardship.

We are not powerless. We must not lose hope

Which is why Norway is giving its support to the people of Ukraine in their ongoing fight.

We are united, the people of Norway and the political community, in our support for Ukraine.

Their battle is our battle too – because our European home becomes less secure when brutal force is being used to deprive others of their freedom and redraw borders.

The Russian regime has become more unpredictable.

And a new seriousness has descended over Europe.

The security policy landscape has changed.

We are taking steps to increase our preparedness and strengthen our armed forces.

We are expanding our cooperation with NATO and with our Nordic neighbours.

All the political parties in the Storting (Norwegian parliament) have endorsed the Nansen Support Programme for Ukraine. Now we have invited all the parties to contribute to a new Long-term Defence Plan.

Still, it is important to keep in mind that we have lived in peace with our neighbour Russia for a thousand years. We are working to maintain our security, and Norway poses no threat to anyone.


Wars, instability in the world economy, the after-effects of the pandemic and rising prices and interest rates all have an impact on national budgets and household budgets alike.

A lot of people found that they could afford less and less last year, and are worried about their personal financial situation, after many years of stability and steady progress.

You only have to go to a store og sign into your bank account. Everything, especially the things that we use the most, has become more expensive.

Every hike in interest rates hurts. Many people have had to go without things they need, during the Christmas holidays as well.

I think about young people who are just getting started as homeowners, and are struggling to meet their mortgage payments. 

I think about those who clean our schools and workplaces, a job that is essential for all of us. They are working as hard as ever, but their pay checks do not go as far as they used to.

And I think about families who were saving a little bit each month towards a nice summer holiday, but now have to dip into their savings to make ends meet.

The combination of higher prices and increased interest rates is having a wide effect on people now.

But we have worked every single day throughout this entire period to reach a turning point in the economy, where inflation starts to fall and interest rates can be lowered.

Yes, it has taken some time. But the turning point is now in sight. There are good prospects for a stable economic recovery, for our country, our businesses and for each and every one of us.

The Government’s aim is clear: to improve people’s financial situation.


The path to financial security is through employment, a job for everyone who is able to work. Never before have there been so many people in work in Norway.

Several thousand people who were previously neither in education nor employment now have the security of a job.

This is good for their self-confidence, their health, for society as a whole – and of course for the economy.

In August, I visited employees and residents at a nursing home in Sandsli in Bergen municipality.

Charlotte Lygre told me that she started out as a nursing assistant in a part-time weekend position. She slowly worked her way up to a 73 % position, and after 14 years was finally given a full-time position, when Sandsli opened in 2020.

Sandsli is the first nursing home in Norway where all the health workers and nurses work full-time.

Charlotte, this provides security for you and the other employees, and for the elderly residents and their families.

This year we will convert even more part-time positions into full-time positions.

And we will get even more people into employment, with appropriate adjustments, where necessary.

New, young employees are a resource. So, it is important to treat them well.

And at a time when the population is aging, with the proportion of pensioners growing, we need to have as many people as possible, everyone who can, in employment and creating value.

But there will always be some people who are unable to work. And the welfare state is there to provide a safety net for them. Because our welfare state is not just for show, it is there to be used.


Children and young people are the ones who will have to carry our country forward. They are our future, and we must take them seriously.

Many are worried about climate change, loss of biodiversity, plastic litter in the oceans and poor air quality in urban areas.

Young people are speaking out. We would be wise to listen to them.

But even though the climate crisis is a global phenomenon and climate change is frightening, we are not powerless.

So far, the pace of climate change has far outstripped climate action.

But from now on, climate action must outstrip climate change. This is our responsibility. This is our best chance.

Against the backdrop of last year’s record-high global temperatures, we are seeing some signs that give us hope.

Following the UN climate summit, which concluded in December, the obligations on the world’s countries are now greater than ever before.

Efforts to cut emissions and achieve the transition from fossil to renewable energy are rapidly accelerating. Not just in international meetings, but in our homes, universities, research communities and businesses.

The industrial company Mapei in Nord-Odal, which I visited last year, is one example. Here we are talking about concrete – one of the world’s most common construction materials. Did you know that concrete production accounts for close to 10 % of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions?

But we can actually reduce this – maybe down to zero. Thanks to new green technology and talented employees in companies like Mapei in Nord-Odal.

Brazil and Indonesia, which Norway is cooperating with, are now succeeding in their efforts to slow down deforestation and preserve the rainforest. This work is essential to tackling climate change.

Municipal companies here in Norway are replacing old ferries and buses with new electric ones.

In Norwegian homes across the country, we are saving energy, choosing recycled goods and opting for environmentally-friendly alternatives. Combined, all our green efforts – large and small – are making a difference.

And we are also working to develop floating offshore wind turbines.

Offshore wind is a unique, renewable resource to be found along our coast. We are in the process of establishing yet another ocean-based industry, once again using the oceans on which we Norwegians have depended throughout our history.

In a couple of decades, offshore wind power may be as big as hydropower.

This green transition is well under way, and efforts are accelerating. We must reach our climate targets. Making use of all our expertise, all our resources and potential, we will do our part to increase the pace of climate action – here in Norway and throughout the world.


The belief that action yields results, the conviction that we are not powerless even in the face of powerful forces, goes hand in hand with our high level of trust in each other.

Even in times of instability and uncertainty, there is much we can do. We can support each other, we can be generous towards each other, we can devote time to each other. As individuals, and as a society.

Just as we saw during Storm Hans.

And have seen in the way people have welcomed new citizens and refugees, many of them from Ukraine.

In the current response to all injustices in the Middle East.

Compassion and caring – doing good deeds for one another – are an important part of what binds our society together.

 ‘The best medicine for a human being is another human being,’ as they say at the Red Cross. Being there for someone who needs you, which we see not least in the sheer range of voluntary activities in clubs and organisations across our country.

Let us show that diversity based on tolerance counteracts polarisation.

Let us learn from the Sámi people’s history, cultural heritage and knowledge about how to coexist with nature.

Let us show that we can build trust by being open to a wide variety of opinions, cultures and religious communities in Norway.

And it is this ‘we’ in Norway that has grown broader over the course of a couple of generations. We need this broader ‘we,’ as the stream of information and images from beyond our borders becomes ever larger, ever more potent, and reaches us more and more rapidly.

At the same time, we must protect what binds us together.

Because we share a foundation – a commitment to core values such as human dignity, democracy, equality, and freedom of expression.

Which also means that we must speak openly both about what engages us and about what upsets us.

That all lives are precious and of equal worth.

And that all forms of discrimination and harassment – against Jews, Muslims, or anyone else – are offensive to those concerned and diminish us as a society.

These are not forces of nature; these are forces that we ourselves can control.

Tolerance, our attitudes, and our trust in each other will determine how ‘we’, the broader Norwegian ‘we’, tackle uncertainty and insecurity in the time ahead.


So, let me say to all the people of Norway, to each and every one of you,

We are never powerless.

Let us find strength in everything we can achieve together, in our communities, at home and abroad.

This evening, I would like to extend a special thank you to those of you who have been at work during this holiday break while most of us have had some time off.

And a sincere thank you and New Year’s greeting to all Norwegians abroad – students, researchers, people working in the maritime sector and other industries, Armed Forces personnel, humanitarian workers, and Foreign Service employees.

A heartfelt thank you to Their Majesties The King and Queen and the entire Royal Family for their tireless efforts for our country – and for us.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!