Norway’s ocean campaign in an international perspective

Sustainable management and use of the world’s oceans are crucial to our common future. Due to population growth the world needs more ocean resources and services, such as food, energy, medicines, minerals and transport. The Government has therefore stated that Norway will take a leading role in addressing global marine issues. Norway knows the sea and has a great deal to contribute. Norwegian expertise is in demand internationally.

In 2017, the Government submitted a white paper to the Storting (Norway’s parliament) on the place of the oceans in foreign and development policy. This white paper identifies three areas of priority: sustainable use and value creation, clean and healthy oceans and a sustainable blue economy in development policy.

We must use Norwegian experience and expertise to promote understanding of the relationship between sound environmental conditions, sustainable resource use and economic growth. In the coming years, three major projects will have special importance for Norway’s oceans initiative on a global basis.

Prime Minister’s high-level panel

In January 2018, Prime Minister Erna Solberg launched plans for a high-level international panel on sustainable ocean economics. The panel will be led by the prime minister and consist of heads of government from a number of coastal states. The purpose of the panel is to promote international understanding of the great economic value associated with sustainable use of the oceans and a sound environment. In the years to come, clean, healthy oceans can help to satisfy key needs of the global population.

The Prime Minister seeks to show that the oceans and the ocean economy can make a powerful contribution to the job of achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals. By engaging political leaders from different continents, Norway hopes to rally broad support for efforts to ensure that our oceans are clean and healthy. The panel’s final report, to be completed in 2020, will be an important milestone.

The following countries have been invited and have confirmed that they will participate in the high-level panel: Australia, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Namibia, Palau and Portugal.

Our Ocean Conference, 2019

Norway will host the international Our Ocean Conference in 2019. Our Ocean was first arranged in Washington, D.C., in 2014 at the initiative of John Kerry, then the U.S. Secretary of State. The number of participating countries has increased considerably over time, and the conference attracts a broad range of attendees from government, academia, NGOs and the business sector. Norway has taken part in the annual conference since its inception, and the Government looks forward to inviting foreign ministers from a variety of countries to the conference in Oslo in autumn 2019.

The two-day conference will focus on marine protected areas, climate change, sustainable fishing, marine litter, the blue economy and maritime safety and security. A major effort is underway to obtain voluntary commitments from countries participating in the conference. The 2018 conference takes place in Bali, Indonesia, 29-30 October.

Aid programme to combat marine litter

Every year about eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the sea, with major environmental consequences. It is estimated that about 80 per cent of the plastic that ends in the ocean comes from land-based sources.

In December 2017, during the third session of the UN Environment Assembly, member states agreed on a “zero vision” for ocean plastic. The proposal was put forward by Norway. In connection with the decision, an expert group was established to examine ways of strengthening international cooperation to combat marine litter and microplastics. Norway is working to have the expert group submit a recommendation for the next meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (in March 2019).

The Government has set aside NOK 280 million for a maritime litter assistance programme in 2018. The programme will help to improve waste management in the parts of the world with the most severe problems, preventing additional movement of refuse into the oceans. Norway has also taken the initiative to create a World Bank multi-donor fund to combat marine litter and microplastics.

Established assistance programmes, such as Fish for Development and Oil for Development, will also play important roles. Norway is already recognised as an ocean nation. Norway’s international efforts in support of the oceans are intended to promote a healthy ocean environment and a sustainable ocean economy to underpin livelihoods worldwide.