Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the official opening of the new Norwegian embassy in New Delhi, India, 7 January 2019.
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Friends and colleagues,
It is with great pleasure that I stand here today to officially open the Norwegian chancellery in New Delhi.
I am particularly proud to be opening a green embassy.
We are standing in front of a building that has solar panels on the roof, geothermal heat pumps in the basement, and the latest energy-efficient solutions for water use, lighting and cooling.
It is not every day that Norway opens a state-of-the-art embassy like this one.
Or should I rather say: re-opens?
In 1947 Norway was one of the first countries in the world to recognise India’s independence.
The chancellery here on Shantipath first opened in 1960 in a ceremony attended by Prime Ministers Nehru and Gerhardsen.
India and Norway quickly became development partners.
In fact, Norway’s first development project in the world was a fishery project in Kerala.
At that time, our focus was on aid.
Both India and Norway have changed significantly since then.
Today, India is the fastest growing large economy in the world.
12 million people enter the labour force every year, and in 2030 there will be more than one billion workers in India.
That means that you will have the largest labour force and be one of the largest markets in the world.
India is a global political power and a valuable partner for a comparatively small country like Norway.
This is the reason why Norway has launched a new India strategy.
It is also the reason why the Norwegian Government has made such a large investment in this new embassy compound – the largest such investment in recent years.
Back in the 1950s, when we opened our first embassy in New Delhi, our diplomats worked hard to help India export more fish.
Almost 70 years later, I have asked the embassy to encourage Indians to buy more Norwegian fish – especially our excellent salmon!
This goes to show how quickly India has developed.
Norway and India are still partners in development.
However, the nature of our partnership has changed and broadened.
Today we face global development challenges – such as climate change – together.
Yes, Norway has technology, financing and experience that can be used to foster a green transition.
However, there are only five million of us.
India, on the other hand, has technology, financing and experience of its own, and is also home to 1.3 billion people.
India can provide the scale needed to achieve the global green transition. India offers huge opportunities!
The opening of this embassy marks the beginning of a new era of cooperation between our two countries.
It will give our diplomats the resources they need.
As a green embassy, I hope it will inspire us in our joint efforts to achieve a green transition and the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am confident that it will help to further develop our long-lasting friendship.
And I look forward to seeing our partnerships blossom, in business, politics and development.