Arctic Frontiers

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Arctic Frontiers conference, 23 January 2017.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking Arctic Frontiers for bringing us together here in Tromsø to discuss the future of the Arctic.

The Arctic is changing fast. Faster than expected.

The seas are warming and the ice is retreating. Human activity and international interest are growing.

We must ensure that present and future activities do not come at the expense of the Arctic environment.

At the same time we must make use of the economic opportunities that are opening up, to the benefit of the 4 million people who live in the Arctic.

I believe it is possible and necessary to do both.

By 2050, there may be 10 billion people on this planet. Increasingly, the world is looking to the oceans for food, medicines, energy and transport. We have only seen the beginning of the blue economy.

However, there are also serious challenges: climate change, ocean acidification and pollution, loss of biodiversity and over-harvesting of marine resources.

In order to feed the rising world population, we will need healthy and productive oceans. This requires that we find a balance between sustainable use and the protection of living marine resources.

Our region can serve as an example to the world.

Sustainable use of ocean resources is the very foundation of Norway’s prosperity and well-being. Today and in the future.

For this reason, my Government will launch a national ocean strategy this spring. In the strategy we will outline our policies for employment, growth and value creation in the ocean-based industries.

Our ambition is to facilitate the transfer of expertise and technology across industrial sectors, and to support the development of environmentally friendly technologies.

We will also present a white paper on the role of the oceans in Norway’s foreign policy. Our goal is to strengthen Norway’s position as a dynamic and future-oriented ocean nation.

About two-thirds of our export revenues come from sea-based economic activities and marine resources. We have harvested the ocean’s resources for more than 10 000 years.

For decades, we have pursued an integrated, ecosystem-based management of our oceans. This science-based approach safeguards biodiversity and ensures sustainable use of resources.

We have shown that it is fully possible to combine ocean-based industries –- such as fisheries, aquaculture, shipping and energy – and a healthy marine environment. But it is crucial to set high environmental standards, and ensure that these are met.

The Arctic has some of the world’s most productive sea areas, supporting rich biodiversity.

The Arctic also has some of the most well-managed sea areas in the world.

In the Barents Sea, science-based management and the close fisheries cooperation between Russia and Norway have been a resounding success. Today, we have the world’s most abundant cod stock.

As climate change in the Arctic gathers speed and we see more human activity, we must ensure that we have institutions that are robust enough to handle the developments. The Arctic Council is more relevant and important than ever before.

One of the reasons for the Arctic Council’s success is the fact that it gathers all key stakeholders, including indigenous peoples.

The Council has been strengthened under the US chairmanship. Finland will take over the chair this spring, and I wish you every success in this important task, Prime Minister Sipilä (Juha).

The Arctic states have achieved economic growth and sustainable development in a way that sets an example to the rest of the world.

But if we are to continue to do this, we must maintain our tradition of cooperation.

We must base our activities on respect for international law.

We ensure that knowledge is at the heart of our policies.

And we must find green and innovative solutions that will enable us to harvest Arctic resources sustainably.

Thank you.