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The Ocean – Norway's proud history

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at DN's ocean conference in Oslo, 16 October 2018.

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Dear participants at this Ocean Conference,

Thank you for inviting me to speak about one of my favorite subjects – how we owe our welfare and future prosperity to the sea.

The ocean industries are an important source of value creation and employment in Norway, and are vital to Norway’s future.

We owe one fourth of our business sectors total value creation to the sea.

The ocean industries represents more than 70 percent of Norway's export value.

According to estimates from the OECD, the ocean economy can double its contribution to value creation in the world by 2030.

Norway wants to be in the lead of this development.

Whether we speak of jobs, nutrition, energy, medicines – or a productive environment for a growing global population, we are all stakeholders in the ocean economy. 

The oceans hold many secrets unknown to humanity.

Yet, we know the oceans will provide us with many of the answers we need to solve future challenges.

That is why sustainable use of our oceans is an end in itself.

To reach the Sustainable Development Goals we will have to produce more from the oceans. We need the oceans to provide more food, more jobs and more energy. And we must maintain their capacity to regulate the climate and support biodiversity.

Today's conference is an important meeting point for all of you who appreciate the need for sustainable development.

Whether you belong to ocean industries, are innovators or represent academic institutions.

What is the state of the art of Norwegian businesses – marine, maritime or energy businesses when it comes to sustainable development?  

For a long time, our ocean industries have proven that we know how to harvest the riches of the sea. Without reducing its value.

That is also, why our ocean-knowledge is in demand worldwide.

In addition, we have demonstrated that green policies do not lead to red numbers.

We know a lot about what is draining the oceans' health:

  • The effects of climate change
  • Marine litter and pollution
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and
  • Loss of habitats and biodiversity

These are threats to all parts of human existence, and they demand that we act urgently to meet them.

Our aim is for Norway to be a leading Ocean Nation. With all the responsibilities that follows.

Therefore, I am proud to say that last year; my government presented both Norway's first ocean strategy, "New growth, proud history", and Norway's first white paper on the place of the oceans in Norway's foreign and development policy.

The strategy and the white paper together, represent the core of the government's ocean policies. There are five focal areas:

  • Industrial development,
  • Research and development,
  • Ocean governance,
  • Clean oceans, and
  • Global leadership.

Climate change and pollution defines the limitations for us all.

We are on the edge of a new era.

Our blue ocean industries must be – and I am happy to say, already are becoming greener.

Our ocean industries are at the forefront of developing and implementing low – and zero emission technologies and fuels.

High tech green solutions are becoming a competitive edge. They are giving way to new business opportunities and blue growth, as well as providing solutions to global climate threats. 

This confirms the need for our ocean policies to be knowledge-based.

That’s why, on October 8th, the Government presented the updated long-term plan for research and higher education. To strengthen research and education up to 2028. One of the long term priorities being sustainable management and use of the oceans.

With this commitment, the Government intends to:

  • Stimulate increased value creation from ocean industries through research and higher education and development of new technologies
  • Give priority to research directed at better management of ecosystems and resources in maritime and coastal areas,
  • Support research directed at ensuring clean and bountiful seas and healthy, safe seafood

As prime minister of Norway, I have launched the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

The Ocean Panel brings together world leaders who recognize that – if we are to “produce, protect and prosper” – economic production and ocean conservation must be mutually supportive.

The panel is an initiative taken by serving world leaders who are committed to catalyzing bold, pragmatic solutions for the Ocean.

In September, we conducted our first meeting in New York.

During the next 18 months, the Ocean Panel will study evidence-based proposals for how ocean issues can be resolved.

However, governments cannot act alone.

Throughout this work, we will cooperate closely with ocean experts, advisers and stakeholders from private sector and civil society.

We will develop a set of recommendations for making the transition to a sustainable ocean economy. This roadmap for the oceans will be presented to the UN Oceans Conference in 2020.

Marine litter is a serious environmental issue.

Images of enormous floating islands of plastic litter have shocked us all.

We need to build a stronger governmental framework for action driven by the private sector.

Together with the president of the World Bank and other donors, I announced the World Bank's New Global Fund for Healthy Oceans – PROBLUE in September this year.

In December 2017, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted a zero vision regarding discharge of plastic litter into the oceans.

This is a bold step.

Through PROBLUE Norway is following up.

In many developing countries, waste management is under-developed.

This is why the fund will provide incentives for effective and sustainable waste management in these countries.

Our ambition is to combat marine littering and pollution. Over the next four years, we will invest 1.6 billion Norwegian kroner in the project.

In addition, we will allocate 125 million kroner to PROBLUE.

Even if Norway is a small country, we are a big ocean state.

It is Norway's ambition to spearhead the global ocean agenda.

Together with you, Norway's government will make healthy and productive oceans a global priority.

Naturally, our expert skills and knowledge of the ocean represent the forefront globally. A kind of expertise we are happy to share with the world.

One thing is certain: the oceans will continue to be important for future welfare.

In order to succeed, we need closer cooperation and stronger commitment from all of you.

Thank you for your attention!

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