Opening speech, the Raisina dialogue

Norway and India share many values, and a deep commitment to democracy and a rules-based world order, said Prime Minister Erna Solberg when addressing Raisina dialogue 2019 in New Dehli.

Check against delivery.

Prime Minister Modi,


Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Prime Minister Modi, thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the Raisina Dialogue.

It is a pleasure to be here today.

The ties between India and Norway go back hundreds of years.

The first possible evidence we have of links between Norway and India dates back to the year 834.

From a Viking ship discovered by accident by a farmer in 1903, in a burial mound in Norway.

The bodies of two women were found in the ship.

Buried with them, archaeologists found items that were meant to accompany them to the afterlife.

They included fine silks and a small Buddha-like figure decorated with four golden swastikas.

These items may have originated from the Indian subcontinent, although we will never know for sure.

In any case, they came to Norway by sea.

The oceans were as essential to our Viking ancestors as they are to us today.

They are a vital part of both our history and our future.

As the world population continues to grow, more and more people will depend on the oceans for development and prosperity.

By the middle of this century, the world population is expected to have increased to ten billion people.

This means that we must look to the oceans in order to ensure sufficient food, jobs, energy and economic growth.

But this will only be possible if ocean resources are used and extracted sustainably.

We all have a stake in building a sustainable blue economy.

Prime Minister, as leaders of maritime nations, we both know that we have a special responsibility to protect the oceans as a source of food, health and livelihoods.

Ambitious new initiatives have been launched to develop India’s blue economy.

Prime Minister Modi has presented a vision of sustainability and growth for all people in the region.

One of the goals of my Government’s ocean strategy is to promote sustainable value creation and employment in the ocean-based industries.

Our ambition is to facilitate the transfer of expertise and technology across industrial sectors.

For instance, Norwegian technology developed for the offshore oil and gas sector is now being used in aquaculture and renewable energy installations, like offshore wind.

If we are to build a sustainable ocean economy, we must stop the degradation of the world’s marine ecosystems.

We must improve the health of the oceans.

That is why I have established the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

As the only ocean policy body consisting of serving world leaders, our ambition is to trigger, amplify and accelerate action to promote ocean protection and productivity.

We will encourage action across the board, in policy, governance and financing.

We need to move towards integrated ocean management, instead of managing the ocean sector by sector.

This must be based on scientific knowledge, and take into account the full range of opportunities and risks.

Our goal is to advance a new contract that will both protect the oceans and optimise their value for all people.

Prime Minister, I look forward to continuing our cooperation on this issue.

Global ocean management means that we must work together to share both benefits and burdens.

The bilateral Ocean Dialogue mechanism we established today will provide an excellent tool for this purpose.






Successful cooperation depends on a robust and predictable legal and institutional framework in the ocean space.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides the legal framework for ocean diplomacy.

India and Norway share democratic values and an emphasis on international norms and laws.

The rules-based international order has served Norway well.

A concrete example is the settlement of the maritime boundary dispute between Norway and Russia in 2010.

Our disputed maritime claims were in areas with an abundance of natural resources.

Achieving an agreement was not easy, but it was in our mutual interest.

The agreement is important for our future blue economy.

We commend India for respecting the rulings of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea on the question of disputed maritime areas. 


One thing is sure:

When large countries respect international law, smaller countries take note.

The principle ‘might is right’ cannot be used as a basis for governing our oceans, or anything else, for that matter.



One area where large and small countries work together under common institutions is the Arctic.

Norway is an Arctic nation.

Much of our territory lies north of the Arctic Circle.

Sea areas account for a large part of this territory.

For us, the Arctic is not a remote, icy wilderness.

For many Norwegians, it is where we live, raise our families and run our businesses.

As a result of climate change, we are seeing rapid and dramatic changes to the Arctic environment.

The consequences of climate change are severe, not only for the local communities in the Arctic, but for the planet as a whole.

Rising sea levels and altered climatic conditions will have a global impact.

The changes are happening fast.

So fast that researchers are struggling to understand and predict the effects they will eventually have on ecosystems.

No country can acquire the knowledge that is needed alone.

International research cooperation is the only way forward.

There is growing evidence that temperature swings in the Arctic are affecting the melting of snow in the Himalayas and the Indian monsoon.

The worrying developments in the Arctic show the interconnected nature of our global challenges.

I am therefore pleased that India and Norway have enjoyed close research cooperation on the Arctic and climate change for many years.

India and Norway are among only a few countries in the world to have research activities at both the North Pole and the South Pole.

This cooperation is of great value to us.

The Arctic Council is the most important forum for discussing issues of common interest relating to the Arctic.

India is now an observer state, along with several other Asian countries.

The Arctic has become an arena for cooperation between Europe, North America and Asia.

This is presenting us with new opportunities.

We hope to see an even stronger Indian engagement in the work of the Arctic Council in the time ahead.


I started by talking about the treasures that were discovered in a Viking burial tomb.

They came to Norway by sea. And they were buried with a ship believed to be needed in the afterlife.

This story reflects our shared dependence on the oceans.

But it also highlights the importance of international trade, long before globalisation.

Global trade has led to increased prosperity for many.

Extreme poverty has been halved, people live longer, child mortality rates are falling, and more girls attend school than ever before.

Global political cooperation, global trade, and international law have been crucial to this progress.

But we also have to recognise that globalisation has not been equally beneficial for all.

Many people feel left out by globalisation.

This is a very real challenge.

Exclusion can spur radicalisation.

It can undermine confidence in international institutions and cooperation.

Eventually, it could weaken respect for international law, human rights and even our security architecture.

To counter this, we must secure the future welfare of a rapidly growing population.

Our job as leaders is to deliver security, jobs, education and healthcare. We must deliver results.

We must ensure that our citizens feel the positive effects of growth and globalisation.

We must deal with the challenges of globalisation while at the same time maximising the benefits for our citizens.

This requires both protection and reform of fundamental trade norms.

We cannot afford to let protectionism, discrimination and economic rivalry define our future.

Norway and India both benefit from rules-based international trade.

We stand only to lose if this is undermined.

The WTO is essential for Norway and our interaction with the world.

I believe rules-based trade is just as important for our partners.

Free trade creates winners.

Protectionism does not.

In order to benefit all, rights, rules and responsibilities must be modernised to fit our current global economy.

This is vital if we are to build a world where people’s potential, creativity and hopes for the future can be realised through cooperation, exchange of knowledge and trade.


The consequences of instability affect us all.

Global security threats require global responses.

Areas of conflict and instability are breeding grounds for violent extremism and international terrorism.

Violent extremism, conflict and instability lead to humanitarian crises and violations of human rights.

These in turn are some of the main drivers of both regular and irregular migration.

Terrorism and violent extremism affect us all and are not limited to any single ideology, religion or belief.

In the continued fight against violent extremism, we must apply a whole-of-society approach.

We must address the root causes.

Security is closely linked to sustainable development.

We must boost trade and job creation.

Build capacity for generating domestic revenue.

Strengthen public service delivery.

And combat corruption.

Corruption fuels inequality, crime, instability and violence.

We must ensure women’s rights and participation.

This is crucial for development and lasting peace and stability.


The international community has agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals:

the roadmap to the future we want.

We all have a stake in this. The issues concern all of us.

If we succeed in reaching the SDGs, we will have done much to address many of the challenges we face today, including poverty, inequality, extremism, health issues and climate change.

Since 2016, I have co-chaired the UN Secretary-General’s group of SDG advocates.

The 17 goals make it very clear that, in this context, we are all developing countries.

Norway has frequently been ranked as number one in the Human Development Index, but we still have a lot of work to do to achieve the SDGs.

India, of course, has played an important role in shaping the Sustainable Development Goals.

The fact that India, with its massive scale and vast resources, is devoting itself to achieving the SDGs, will have a global impact.

I greatly appreciate Prime Minister Modi’s leadership in this arena.

We have no time to lose.

Sustainable change cannot be achieved overnight.

It requires hard work.

And we must work together.

The effects of climate change, conflicts, forced migration and pandemics do not respect borders.

Working together has enabled us to do far more than we could have done alone. 

India and Norway share the goal of solving global challenges in cooperation, rather than in isolation.

Norway and India share many values, and a deep commitment to democracy and a rules-based world order. 


We live in times of great change.

India will soon be the most populous nation in the world.

From Norway’s perspective, global trends have been the cause of both our prosperity and many of our challenges.

Trade conflicts, geopolitical tensions, violent extremism, climate change and instability at the global level directly affect us at home.

But so do the benefits of world trade, the global fight against infectious diseases, and the rule of law. 

And while we are seeing great changes, there are also constants.

The oceans are still there with their potential to provide wealth and development.

To paraphrase the great Mahatma Gandhi:

there is still enough for everyone’s need, but still not enough for everyone’s greed.

And the monsoon winds still blow across the Indian Ocean, as they did in Viking times.

Thank you.