Speech/statement | Date: 24/03/2017
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched 24 March a white paper on the oceans place in Norway's foreign and development politicy and took part in presenting the new vessel R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. Here is the Minister's speech.
The new Dr. Fritdjof Nansen is the world's most advanced research vessel. She brings together state-of-the-art technology with world-class expertise on marine resource management. She is designed to generate the knowledge we need to manage our ocean resources sustainably.
This is crucial, because today more than 50 % of the world's population live on or near the coast. And with an expected population growth of 2 billion over the next 30 years, the importance of the oceans as a source of food, energy and transport will only continue to grow
This vessel is an investment in sustainable development. And in particular in sustainable development goal number 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the world's oceans and marine resources.
Norway is ready to take a leading role in achieving this goal, and this boat is an important contribution.
I would like to thank Prime Minister Erna Solberg for agreeing to be the godmother of the new vessel. Knowing her commitment to the sustainable development agenda – and her love of the sea – this vessel could have no better guardian.
Building a modern research vessel requires the contribution of many people and institutions. Today, special thanks are due to everyone who has taken part in designing and constructing the new Dr. Fridtjof Nansen
For over 40 years, the Nansen programme has supported more than 60 countries in their efforts to promote sound fisheries management, most of them in Africa.
Many of our most committed partners are represented here today – and your achievements are inspiring. Ghana, for example, is taking steps towards an ecosystem-based management approach to its marine resources. And Namibia is rated among the top ten countries in the world when it comes to fisheries management.
Now, Norway will make the Nansen programme even stronger:
- We are extending the programme period to at least 2022.
- We are increasing the budget.
- And we are inviting more countries to join.
As you can see, the vessel also carries the UN flag, and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation with FAO.
From Oslo, Dr. Fridjof Nansen will sail to the coast of Africa.
There she will provide information needed to make the best possible use of the many opportunities offered by the oceans. And she will enhance our knowledge of the serious challenges the world's oceans are facing – related to pollution, climate change and unsustainable fishing practices. Challenges that can only be met with international cooperation and political commitment.
It is therefore a great pleasure to present today a new white paper on the role of the oceans in Norway's foreign policy. The white paper is the first of its kind, and we pay particular attention to three areas:
i) Promoting the sustainable use of ocean resources,
ii) ensuring that oceans are clean and healthy, and
iii) strengtheningthe role of the blue economy in our development cooperation
First, Norway has shown that the oceans can be a reliable source of food, economic growth and employment.
Two thirds of the value of Norway's exports comes from ocean-related activities.
Norway's management of living marine resources is based on scientific knowledge, and shared stocks are managed in accordance with bilateral and regional agreements.
In the Arctic, for example, we are successfully managing the world's largest cod stock together with Russia.
Experience has shown that respect for the Law of the Sea benefits small and large countries alike.
Building on this experience, it is Norway's ambition to be a driving force for international cooperation on sustainable use of the oceans.
We support the elimination of subsidies that contribute to over-sized fishing fleets and unsustainable fishing practices.
And we will step up efforts to end overfishing globally.
This leads me to my second point: we must ensure healthy oceans for future generations.
This means that we must limit the impacts of global warming, and that we must stop the flows of waste and pollutants into the sea.
A staggering 12 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean – every year.
I am pleased to announce that Norway will launch a new development programme to combat marine litter and microplastics.
Through the Nansen programme, we will continue our efforts to monitor the state of the marine environment.
And to enhance the role of the oceans in absorbing CO2, Norway will support blue forest initiatives in selected partner countries.
Third, there is no reason why the blue economy cannot become a driver of growth in developing countries, provided it is based on responsible resource management.
To this end, Norway will increase funding for the Fish for Development programme.
We will enhance efforts to share knowledge, technology and sustainable management strategies – the new research vessel being a case in point.
And we will give priority to private sector initiatives in this field.
Norway is ready to step up efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.
In June, we will host the first meeting of the parties to the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU fishing.
We stand ready to assist in the implementation of its provisions, in close collaboration with FAO.
Norway's ambition is to make healthy and productive oceans a global priority.
The new Dr. Fritdjof Nansen can be seen as a symbol of what we can achieve together, when we combine knowledge and technology with international cooperation and political determination.
I am confident she will make an important contribution to the fight against poverty and to ensuring more sustainable use of the world's oceans.
I wish her fair winds as she sails on the global seas.