Enable Javascript in your browser for an improved experience of regjeringen.no

Speech to Samoa Meeting in Tonga

Speech of State Secretary Marianne Hagen to the Pacific Small Island Developing States Samoa Pathway Mid-Term Review Meeting in Tonga June 23rd, 2018.

Dear Officials, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor to be present at this meeting with so many distinguished representatives from Pacific Island states. I would like to use this opportunity to thank Secretary General Mahe and the Tongan authorities for the warm hospitality that has been extended to me. I would also like to thank Her Excellency High Representative `Uitoikamanu from the UN OHRLLS for the kind invitation to attend this meeting.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

The Samoa Pathway’s focus on issues such as health, gender, social inclusion, climate change and healthy oceans truly corresponds to Norway’s priorities. This is why Norway has engaged as a partner and a lead donor to this mid-term review process.

We are geographically far apart, but I believe our countries have much in common.

We are small countries who are best served by strong multilateral organizations, where all voices can be heard. We are best served by a rules-based international system, with the UN and multilateralism at its core. And we share a strong commitment to economic and social transformation through the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris agreement.  

We are small players on the global arena, but the global arena fundamentally touches our core interests, whether it is the devastating effects of climate change on development, or the importance of healthy oceans for our livelihoods. Key concerns for you – as demonstrated by the Samoa Pathway - and for us.

Norway and Small Island Developing States have a longstanding cooperation on climate change. We are proud partners of the “High Ambition Coalition” in climate negotiations - consistently calling for more ambitious global climate action in the follow-up of the Paris agreement.

You have led by example. Many Pacific Island States have accelerated their own transition to renewable energy. Ambitious targets have been set by many countries – Fiji 100 % renewable by 2030, Cook Islands and Tuvalu 100 % of electricity from renewable by 2020. This is leadership in practice.

And Norway is a partner:

  • We have provided support to AOSIS for capacity building on climate change.
  • We provide about 4 million US dollars annually to support Small Islands Developing States to transform fossil-based power systems to renewable energy through Irena’s Lighthouse Initiative and the Clinton Climate Initiative, as well as bilaterally.
  • And Norway has allocated close to 200 million US dollars for the Green Climate Fund over four years. Over 10 % of the committed resources of this fund has been allocated to Small Island Developing States.

Climate change has grave consequences. No one knows this better than you.

The UN estimates that 1 dollar invested in prevention can save at least 7 dollars spent for reconstruction. Norway is in the forefront of the work to strengthen the international focus on prevention and risk reduction. We support a broad range of adaptation efforts like early warning systems and regional programs to build resilience in vulnerable areas.

Funds from the Green Climate Fund are not reaching Island States as it should. Norway advocates simplified access for smaller states and their projects in the board of the Green Climate Fund.

We support the eligibility of graduated countries for Official Development Assistance when their economic base is ruined by a natural disaster.

The global support today, not least to adaptation and resilience building is not enough. Small Island countries should not have to face the consequences of natural disasters all alone. Disasters occur with a higher frequency and increased strength, primarily caused by emissions elsewhere.

Norway believes that there is a case for bringing up Climate Change and Oceans as issues of concern for international peace and security in the UN Security Council.

Important work on this has already been carried out by New Zealand and Sweden. Norway is a candidate to serve on the United Nations Security Council as an elected member for the period of 2021 and 2022. If elected, we intend to follow up this work and move forward on the agenda of the security concerns of Island States.

However, as some are skeptical, it is important to do “the homework” well and to present carefully crafted arguments and documentation.

We have therefore proposed, in consultation with UN Ambassadors of the Pacific Island States in New York; that we form a group, co-chaired by a Pacific Island State and Norway. This group will work to form the key arguments, present documentation, and shape a strategy for how this issue can be addressed by the Council. We plan to organize a set of meetings in New York, bringing in external experts and resources to aid the discussion. We will collect documentation, and finally, we will present a report, making the case, in the margins of the UN General Assembly in 2019.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I represent a small country, but a large ocean state. The Norwegian oceans constitute almost seven times our land territory. I know that is peanuts compared to many of you! However, the ocean is the main source of Norway’s wealth. More than two thirds of our export revenues come from coastal and ocean based activities – fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport and services, as well as energy production. 

Norway has always been a strong supporter of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and we have provided assistance to countries’ continental shelf demarcation efforts. Also in this respect, we are partners, where we have cooperated with AOSIS to build capacity in support of the BBNJ -negotiations.

Fish and marine products could also be a larger source of wealth to many small island and coastal states. As you know, each year the fishermen have to go further and further away from shore to secure their catch. According to the World Bank, the global fisheries sector is losing a staggering 83 billion USD each year, largely because of overfishing. Large scale Illegal fishing ravage healthy fish stocks and undermine the economy. Small islands states are hit the hardest.

Concrete and practical action is required. Norway has allocated almost 5 million US dollars in funding for UNODC to combat fisheries crimes, as well as significant resources in cooperation with the FAO to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and to support the implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement.

Our oceans, and all the wealth and benefits they provide, are at risk. As with the climate, we – the countries that have the strongest interests – must spearhead a global effort to safeguard their health.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, by 2050 there may be more plastic than fish in the oceans. This is why Norway is taking an international initiative to improve waste management and prevent marine litter. We will allocate close to 35 million dollars to this work and are now working to make it a truly multilateral effort.

There are also great opportunities in the future for us as ocean states. Today, only a small fraction of the global protein intake comes from seafood. By 2050, there will be close to 10 billion people on the planet, and much of the most productive agricultural lands may be rendered less fertile because of climate change. To secure our food supply in the future, we need sustainable ocean management today.

Together, we must do everything in our power to maintain healthy oceans as a source of our wealth and prosperity for the future. The Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, has taken the initiative to establish an international High-level Panel on Building Sustainable Ocean Economy to this effect. Many Heads of Government from coastal states across the world have accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation. I am very pleased that Fiji and Palau count among the 13 members.

* * * * *

Dear friends, in summing up;

I believe we have common interests and priorities on the most important issues of our time.

It is vital and urgent that climate change and its devastating effects are tackled.

Healthy oceans must remain a source of value creation and economic development.

Support for the United Nations and the multilateral rules-based system remain our most important tools for global action, to the benefit of small countries.

Together we are stronger in promoting these objectives. I believe we should strengthen our partnership.

I am grateful for this opportunity to address this meeting and having time with you to engage and to learn.

Thank you.  

Go to the top