Speach given at SIIS in Shanghai.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to start by thanking the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and the Polar Research Institute of China for bringing us together to discuss the future of the Arctic.
Today’s event highlights the close partnership between Norway and China in the Arctic.
This is particularly strong in the field of research.
Indeed, Norway and China have cooperated on polar research for more than 15 years.
Now that our diplomatic and political relations have been normalised, I am confident that we will enjoy even closer cooperation.
The fact that China is looking to the High North is positive.
It gives us a shared platform to build further on.
Norway intends to play a major role in defining the future direction for the Arctic. We have a clear vision.
The Arctic should remain a safe, predictable and peaceful region.
A region of international cooperation based on international law.
A region where development is sustainable and where there is a good balance between commercial and industrial activity and environmental concerns.
I would like to acknowledge China’s important contribution to reaching the Paris agreement (COP 21).
Climate change is a serious threat.
It is therefore vital to achieve sustainable development in the Arctic and to ensure that the commitments made in Paris are honoured.
The Arctic is changing and it is changing fast.
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 sustainable use of the economic opportunities that are opening up.
I believe it is possible and necessary to do both.
The Arctic is mostly ocean - and the blue economy offers great promise for new investments, growth and employment.
The ocean is the very foundation of Norway’s economy. Most of our sea area is located north of the Arctic Circle.
We therefore have a strong interest in promoting sustainable ocean management in the region.
Some of the world’s most productive sea areas are in the Arctic and support a rich variety of marine life.
Some of the best managed sea areas in the world are also in the Arctic.
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.
Countries from three continents have found ways of working together in the Arctic, based on common interests and respect for international law.
We are developing new knowledge, and we are building smart regional institutions.
The Arctic Council has been instrumental in finding common solutions to regional challenges.
One reason for its success is that it gathers together all key stakeholders, including indigenous peoples.
A robust Arctic Council, firmly supported by member states and observer countries, is a major factor in ensuring continued stability in the Arctic.
We have been impressed by the US chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and we support their efforts to integrate the observers more closely into the work of the Council.
We hope this will lead to more opportunities for us to strengthen our cooperation with China in the Arctic Council.
Finding a good balance between prudent use and conservation is crucial.
We need green and innovative solutions that will enable us to harvest Arctic resources sustainably.
We must ensure that knowledge is at the heart of our policies and maintain our tradition of cooperation.
Norway will remain at the forefront of developments in Arctic science.
We wish to enhance scientific and research cooperation with China as a way of building up knowledge about sustainable development in the Arctic, and we look forward to continuing our cooperation in Ny Ålesund.