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International cooperation, sustainability and green solutions were on the agenda when His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon conducted a virtual official visit to San Francisco earlier this week. He was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru and a Norwegian business delegation.
‘At a time when there are widespread restrictions on travel, we are testing out new tools for promoting Norway and Norwegian business interests. This virtual visit to California has been very carefully planned. It gave us a good opportunity to discuss how international cooperation, research and new technology can help to foster a sustainable future and enhance value creation,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The most densely populated state in the US, California is the fifth largest economy in the world and home to a number of the world’s largest tech companies. The state plays a leading national and global role in developing and investing in climate change mitigation measures and green technology. In 2017, Norway and California signed a declaration of intent on environmental cooperation. The Leaders Summit on Climate convened by US President Joe Biden last week made it clear that the US is once again returning to ambitious climate goals.
The visit to San Francisco was Norway’s first large-scale virtual visit abroad, giving many people the opportunity to follow an official visit on a digital platform. Technology and graphic effects helped to provide good virtual meeting places, facilitated discussions and provided a sense of face-to-face contact between participants.
From a television studio in Oslo, the delegation met Governor of California Gavin Newsom and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. Sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship were on the programme for virtual visits to UC Berkeley and Stanford University. The Crown Prince and the Foreign Minister also met Nancy Pelosi, who is Speaker of the US House of Representatives and represents California in Congress.
‘The talks with Ms Pelosi reaffirmed the close bonds and good cooperation between Norway and the US. I believe this visit will help to strengthen cooperation within the area of climate change and green solutions, and that this will have a positive effect on Norwegian businesses and Norwegian knowledge communities,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Representatives from several Norwegian knowledge and technology clusters and companies took part in the visit. Like Norway, California has set clear targets for the transition to zero-emission vehicles. The exchange of views on visions and lessons learned with regard to reaching zero-emission targets on land and at sea was one of the main topics for the business delegation, which was coordinated by Innovation Norway.
‘There are great opportunities for the Norwegian business sector to establish closer ties to the California innovation ecosystem. Innovation and new technology will help us to make the transition to a greener future. To do this, we must work together with the business sector and continue to invest in exports and green growth,’ said Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø.
Norway and California are both coastal economies with potential to make wide use of offshore wind power. Other important topics for the meetings during the visit included renewable energy and financing of the sustainable societies and businesses of the future.
‘California and Norway have a common ambition to develop low-emission climate and energy technologies, especially within offshore wind power and zero-emission transport. I am pleased that the pandemic did not prevent us from sharing our experience and strengthening cooperation on green solutions and sustainable value creation for both the authorities and the business sector,’ said Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru.
The virtual visit can be viewed here: https://norwayevent.com/delegations/norway-california/