"High Level Political Meeting for the 50th Anniversary of the Bonn Agreement", 11.10.2019.
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Colleagues,
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 Norwegian government has therefore taken a leading role in addressing global marine issues. We aim at using Norwegian experience and expertise to promote understanding of the relationship between sound environmental conditions, sustainable resource use and economic growth.
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Ms Erna Solberg, leads the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. The aim of the panel is to build a new, shared understanding of the state of the ocean economy and ecology, and to generate a set of recommendations for building a global and sustainable ocean economy.
I would also like to mention that the Norwegian government in 2018 established a Norwegian Centre for Oil Spill Preparedness and Marine Environment. The Centre is located in Lofoten, Northern Norway, and is to be a national knowledge hub for marine litter pollution and oil spill preparedness.
Marine pollution prevention, preparedness and response is, indeed, an issue area where international cooperation already has proven very valuable.
Today we celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Bonn Agreement.
I will use this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the contracting Parties to the Bonn agreement for 50 years of successful cooperation.
The Greater North Sea is in many ways essential for the lives of millions of people and it contains some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Therefore, an agreement to prevent and combat pollution in this area is of great importance.
The number of observed oil spills has decreased during recent years. This is partly due to better maritime safety and improvements in preventive measures.
To ensure a clean Greater North Sea, it is very important that we consider preventive measures and preparedness and response together, and that we implement the measures that reduce risk efficiently. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that there is always a risk that accidental spills will occur.
I will highlight the common benefit the agreement represents for our response to accidental and illegal marine pollution. Together we have developed great expertise to handle threats to the marine environment. Our cooperation has been successful, and it is of great importance to have this opportunity to rely on our partners if a major accident suddenly occurs.
However, we can not only rely on past success, we have to improve our cooperation further to meet new challenges.
We are witnessing a technology development that will impact transportation in many ways. Emission free propulsion, ITS, and autonomy change the way we transport goods and people.
There are great potential benefits in new transport technology, and in the maritime sector, we will hopefully see both emission reductions, improved safety, reduced environmental impact and major efficiency gains in the years to come.
At the same time, our knowledge about how our marine activity effects the environment is improving. This means that we can not only focus on oil spills but also have to broaden our scope and cooperate to prevent also other types of marine pollution.
I welcome the initiative to extend the scope of the Bonn Agreement to air pollution. Air pollution is affecting the ecosystems and the health of citizens in coastal areas. I believe that we, through our well-established cooperation, can make a positive impact also in this field.
Finally, I will also welcome Spain as a new Contracting Part to our agreement. This will further strengthen our cooperation in the coming years.