Norway’s ocean interests in an international context
Norway’s ocean interests are related to value creation, the environment, climate change and sustainable use of resources. Long-term, integrated management of natural resources and the marine environment is crucial for securing the livelihoods of present and future generations. We must look to the oceans to find solutions to many future challenges, and we will have to cooperate closely at the international level if we are to be able to exploit the potential of the oceans to the full. The OECD has calculated that many ocean-based industries have the potential to outperform the growth of the global economy as a whole by 2030. A high level of growth will only be possible if the oceans are managed sustainably.
Norway is in a strong position to promote its ocean interests, share knowledge and contribute to global development that is in line with the SDGs. Norway’s experience of sustainable marine management has given us valuable expertise that we can use in our international efforts to advocate development that fosters growth through protection of the marine environment, not at its expense. Safeguarding Norway’s ocean interests also involves working with other countries to address climate and environmental problems.
International ocean policy is being strongly influenced by the shift of power from west to east, and to some extent southwards. Geopolitical changes and the interests of emerging countries will affect international ocean cooperation and the options available to Norway. Global problems include overfishing, pollution, marine litter, ocean acidification, global warming and the loss of biological diversity. The Government considers it vital to promote sustainable use of marine resources and the view that sound use and conservation need not be mutually exclusive.
There is a pressing need for more knowledge about the oceans. Some ocean governance issues are global in nature and require global solutions, whereas many of them can best be addressed at the regional level. The Government is working actively to promote Norway’s ocean interests in multilateral, regional and bilateral arenas. There is considerable potential for blue growth in many developing countries and the knowledge, expertise and experience of countries like Norway is sought after. Sharing experience and knowledge gained from its system of integrated marine management plans is one important way in which Norway can contribute to international marine management.
Ocean policy is a priority area for influential countries in all parts of the world and provides Norway with important, long-term opportunities for cooperation with other countries. The Government will launch dialogues on ocean affairs with relevant countries with a view to exchanging experience and expertise and cooperating on measures to promote clean and healthy oceans, sustainable use of marine resources and growth in the blue economy.
Norway’s ocean interests in the Arctic are related to the utilisation of resources and to managing this in a way that ensures good ecological status and safeguards valuable biodiversity and the basis for future harvesting and use of resources. The Arctic is Norway’s most important foreign policy priority. There are growing opportunities for industrial development in sectors such as seafood and oil and gas. However, global warming is bringing about rapid change in Arctic sea areas. The Government is giving high priority to developing knowledge on issues relating to the Arctic seas. The Government will, in consultation with the academic community, the public administration and the business sector, consider establishing a centre of expertise on ocean and Arctic issues in Tromsø.
In the Antarctic and the southern Atlantic Ocean, Norway’s ocean interests are related to conservation of the unique marine ecosystems, research and responsible harvesting of living marine resources.
The framework for Norway’s ocean interests
No nation can solve ocean-related problems alone. Good cooperation mechanisms are needed at both global and regional level. In order to be able to promote its ocean interests, Norway is dependent on respect for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, effective international organisations and secure seas and oceans. In different ways, these three factors influence the options and opportunities available to Norway. Norway has a core interest in the strengthening and further development of the Law of the Sea. The Convention provides the international legal framework for all human activity in the oceans. The principles set out in the Convention on the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment and the right to exploit natural resources, and its regional approach to marine management are particularly important.
Norway cooperates with multilateral, regional and bilateral partners on international ocean governance. A number of organisations and forms of cooperation have been set up to promote international cooperation and regulate activities in different areas. Coordination and cooperation between international institutions is needed if we are to succeed in managing ocean-related challenges.
The UN is the most important forum for developing international norms, and to a large extent it determines the overall framework for ocean-based activities. In addition, a number of UN agencies and multilateral and regional organisations have a responsibility and mandate to address marine and maritime issues. Some of them, such as the International Maritime Organization, the International Whaling Commission, and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, focus mainly on these issues. Others, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), have a number of other focus areas as well.
Norway and the EU maintain close contact on maritime and ocean-related matters, and cooperate at many levels. Most exports from Norwegian ocean-based industries go to countries in the EU. The EU regards the oceans as a driver of the European economy, with great potential for innovation and growth. In 2016, the EU presented a Joint Communication on international ocean governance, and later in 2017, it will be hosting the fourth Our Ocean Conference. The EU is a key partner for Norway in many ocean-related areas, at both global and regional level.
Secure seas and oceans are a prerequisite for promoting Norway’s ocean interests. The Government considers it crucial to pursue a security policy that safeguards Norway’s interests at sea. Agreements on maritime delimitation and respect for the Law of the Sea are the keys to peaceful cooperation in the future. The Norwegian Armed Forces have the main responsibility for exercising Norwegian authority at sea, and the Coast Guard maintains a presence in Norwegian waters throughout the year to safeguard our interests.
Close cooperation between NATO and the EU on maritime security benefits Norway.
Safe and secure conditions for all maritime transport are vital for Norway as a major shipping nation. Human smuggling by sea is a major challenge. The maritime operations in the Mediterranean play a key role in controlling the Schengen external border, combating human smuggling and dealing with flows of refugees and migrants. Various types of organised environmental crime take place at sea or use the oceans as a transport route. The Government is calling for a comprehensive approach that considers environmental crime together with other forms of organised crime, such as fisheries crime.
The impacts of climate change on the oceans may exacerbate global and regional security threats. Rising sea levels and changes in the distribution of important fish stocks are factors that could worsen the security situation in fragile countries and regions.
Priority areas for Norway
Norwegian foreign policy must be designed to support the further development of sustainable ocean-based industries and to promote good solutions and action to combat the serious environmental threats facing the world’s oceans. It is in Norway’s interests to support efforts to promote sustainable growth in the blue economy in developing countries.
The world needs countries that are willing to take the lead in the work to protect the oceans and ensure that resources are used sustainably. The Government wants Norway to be at the forefront of international efforts to promote sustainable use and value creation, to ensure that we have clean and healthy oceans and to support the blue economy in developing countries.
Sustainable use and value creation
Its extensive, resource-rich sea areas mean that Norway is well-placed to benefit from the anticipated global growth in the blue economy. The Government has high ambitions when it comes to value creation in Norwegian ocean-based industries, as described in its ocean strategy, which was presented in February 2017. Promoting responsible use of marine resources and blue growth could also be a way of ensuring progress towards several of the other SDGs.
The traditional Norwegian ocean-based industries – the oil and gas sector, the maritime industry and the seafood industry – are highly inter- nationalised. The oil and gas sector stands out in terms of its contribution to GDP, export value and the number of people it employs. Given the expected increase in energy demand, the sector will continue to play an important role for many years to come. The International Energy Agency is an important arena for promoting Norwegian energy policy views and interests.
Maritime transport is vital for world trade and access to global markets, and a key factor for achieving sustainable development. Norway is the tenth largest shipping nation in the world in terms of tonnage, and the world’s sixth largest in terms of value. The Government is promoting the implementation of, and seeking to generate support for, global shipping rules, the development of more environmentally friendly shipping, measures to combat piracy, maritime security, and implementation of the mandatory Polar Code for ships operating in polar waters.
The Norwegian seafood industry has grown considerably in recent years. The Government is working towards sustainable management of living marine resources, based on the best based scientific evidence and an ecosystem approach. Aquaculture is now the largest industry in the Norwegian seafood sector, and the export value of aquaculture products exceeds that of exports from capture fisheries. Norway cooperates closely with neighbouring countries on the management and harvesting of many of our most important fish stocks. Although fish stocks in Norwegian sea areas are harvested at sustainable levels, the situation on a global scale is far less positive. According to FAO, around 31 % of the world’s commercially important fish stocks are overfished. For many years, Norway has been heavily engaged in international cooperation to promote sustainable fisheries management. The Government is calling for higher priority to be given to fisheries and aquaculture in efforts to improve global food security, and for FAO to be the main arena for policy development relating to global food security, nutrition and the right to food.
Many different ocean-based industries could potentially make an important contribution to value creation in Norway and in other countries. These include offshore renewable energy and seabed mining, which could be important in the long term. The Norwegian aquaculture sector is carrying out extensive research on species that could in time be used to increase production. Kelp cultivation is one area that appears to have significant economic potential, and the rich marine biodiversity could be used as a basis for developing new products in a number of areas. The Government will therefore promote sustainable growth in new and emerging ocean-based industries.
Increasing market access and eliminating trade barriers are important tasks in Norwegian foreign and trade policy, and these are clear priorities for the Government. Ocean-based industries are a key priority for Norway in the WTO, in trade cooperation with EU/EEA countries and in bilateral free trade agreements negotiated under the auspices of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The Government is pursuing a proactive trade policy that safeguards Norway’s interests. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and other relevant ministries promote Norway’s trade policy priorities in the international arena.
Supporting the Norwegian business sector abroad is a priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Norway’s diplomatic and consular missions act as door openers and network-builders. They have knowledge of local conditions and market opportunities and access to networks and the authorities in their host countries. The Government will promote crosssectoral cooperation under Team Norway to promote the ocean economy as a whole in areas where this can enhance the effectiveness of our efforts.
Clean and healthy oceans
Value creation based on the use of marine resources is dependent on the maintenance of good environmental status and on species and habitat diversity in the seas and oceans. The Government will continue to raise awareness of this internationally, and will play an active role in efforts to find good solutions.
Marine litter is a growing international problem. Plastics and other waste have negative impacts on biodiversity and sustainable development. Norway will participate actively in international efforts to combat marine litter and microplastics. The Government will launch a development programme with the aim of reducing marine waste and improving waste management in developing countries. Releases of chemicals, oil, sewage and heavy metals also pose a threat to the marine environment. The Government will continue to take a broad approach in its efforts to prevent pollution from both land-based and offshore activities.
Climate change is having negative impacts on the marine environment and is making the oceans warmer and more acidic. This also poses a threat to food security. Sea levels are rising as a result of global warming, and this is threatening small island states, low-lying countries and coastal communities. The most important step we can take to limit the negative impacts of climate change on the oceans is to reduce global CO2 emissions. The adoption of the Paris Agreement was therefore also important for the oceans as well as other ecosystems. The Government will maintain its extensive international engagement in the area of climate change. In 2017, the Government will allocate over NOK 5 billion to climate-related measures through the development assistance budget. Small island developing states (SIDS) have extensive sea areas and maritime interests. The Government will strengthen cooperation on climate issues with SIDS that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. ‘Blue’ forests, such as mangroves, are important because they absorb and store CO2. The Government will continue to highlight the importance of blue forests internationally and support blue forest initiatives in selected partner countries in the Global South.
Area-based management measures such as setting aside marine protected areas are important tools in the work to promote conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. In the Government’s view, it is important to ensure that the extent of such areas and the management measures introduced are based on the best possible scientific information, are in line with the purpose of protection and can be combined with sustainable use of the areas. The Government will seek to promote understanding of this internationally, with a view to ensuring that the international community makes the best possible use of resources and implements targeted measures. This is also important for developing countries and their efforts to bring about sustainable development of the blue economy.
The blue economy in developing countries
Many of Norway’s partner countries have substantial marine resources and considerable potential to further develop blue industries. It is in Norway’s interest that developing countries manage the oceans sustainably. The Government will allocate a larger proportion of the aid budget to the development of expertise on integrated sustainable management of marine resources, food security and business development. The Oil for Development programme and the Fish for Development programme are important tools in this area.
For several years, Norway has provided assistance to a number of African countries to enable them to better safeguard their interests in connection with the determination of the outer limits of their respective continental shelves. The Government will take part in a follow-up project in the countries concerned.
Norway’s model of integrated marine management plans is of interest to many developing countries. There is a pressing need to establish and strengthen management regimes that promote the potential for business development and sustainable use of marine resources. The Government will strengthen efforts to develop cross-sectoral regional seas programmes for developing countries in cooperation with UNEP and FAO.
Oil and gas production is an important source of income for many developing countries, and if managed responsibly, the oil and gas industry can make a significant contribution to economic and social development. Norway shares its expertise in this area through the Oil for Development programme, which aims to enable developing countries to manage their petroleum resources in a way that contributes to lasting poverty reduction and takes environmental concerns properly into account. The Government will continue its cooperation with partner countries on the four main components of the Oil for Development programme: resource management, environmental management (including climate change considerations), safety management (including oil pollution preparedness and response and operational safety) and financial management.
The Fish for Development programme was launched in 2015 to enhance the impact of aid initiatives relating to the sustainable use of living marine resources. Under the programme, Norway provides capacitybuilding support to the authorities in partner countries, and assistance for the development of effective legislation, and monitoring, inspection and enforcement systems. It also provides support for education and business development. The Government intends to increase its allocation to the Fish for Development programme to meet the demand for knowledge and management experience relating to marine resources and the oceans.
For more than 40 years, Norway has been supporting the Nansen Programme in cooperation with FAO. The official naming ceremony for the third in a line of research vessels called Dr Fridtjof Nansen, the worlds most advanced research vessel, took place in March 2017. A new phase of the Nansen Programme was launched at the same time. The new vessel will make it possible to carry out more extensive marine research and promote ecosystem-based fisheries management in developing countries.
Small-scale fisheries are the most common type of fisheries, and are an important source of employment, food security and income in developing countries. It is estimated that about 90 % of all people employed in capture fisheries work in the small-scale fisheries sector. In view of the valuable contribution this sector makes to food security and poverty reduction, the Government will continue to provide support for sustainable small-scale fisheries.
The Government will use a greater proportion of development aid to build up expertise on business development in the marine and maritime sectors. Knowledge about marine ecosystems, a sound legal framework and management regime, and security for private investments are all needed to develop an effective and responsible fisheries management system.
Two of the greatest threats to sustainable fisheries are illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and fisheries crime. In many countries, there is a pressing need to establish and strengthen management regimes that can limit losses arising from these illegal activities. The Government will intensify its efforts to combat IUU fishing and maintain Norway’s substantial support for efforts to combat fisheries crime.