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Norway’s State Secretary Speech “Cultural Heritage Counts For Europe”

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Open Eyes Opinion {source: NOgov}

Norway – Cultural Heritage

Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe

State Secretary Ingvild Naess Stub’s speech at the Europa Nostra Conference «Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe» in Oslo 12 June. 

It gives me great pleasure to be here today. Norway and EU are close cooperation partners. Economically – obviously – since Norway is an EEA country and part of the internal market. But also politically. We adhere to the same values and principles: democracy and human rights. We put strong emphasis on international law as the basis for peaceful cooperation between states.

These values and principles have served us well in the Arctic. It is crucial that we make sure that they continue to do so.

The overall goal for Norway’s Arctic policy is to ensure that the Arctic remains an area of peace, stability and international cooperation. 

10 % of Norway’s population live north of the Arctic Circle.

80 % of our sea areas are north of the Circle.

80 % of maritime traffic in the Arctic passes through Norwegian waters.

Almost 90 % of our export revenues are from offshore economic activities and resources. Our long coastline, maritime traditions and ability to innovate go hand in hand.

The Norwegian Arctic is experiencing a higher level of economic growth than the rest of the country. This region expects to see a 6–7 % growth in exports in the coming years.

The Arctic is important to us as an Arctic nation. The Arctic represents major opportunities, but also major responsibilities, and we have important interests to safeguard. This calls for an ambitious Arctic policy.

For Norway, the Arctic remains a key foreign policy priority. Peace, stability and international cooperation are needed to secure wealth creation and sustainable development in the Arctic. 

Successful international cooperation depends on a robust and predictable legal and institutional framework. This is clearly the case in the Arctic too.

The coastal states bordering the Arctic Ocean agree that the Law of the Sea provides the legal framework needed to address the present and foreseeable challenges in the Arctic.

Clear and indisputable borders make cooperation easier.

In 2010, Norway and Russia signed the Treaty on Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

This treaty is a good example of the application of the principles of international law in practice.

In addition to a legal framework that all Arctic stakeholders adhere to, we also need well-functioning institutions to address Arctic issues. (Arktisk råd)

The Arctic Council, which has been strengthened in recent years, is crucial in this respect.

The indigenous peoples in the Arctic participate actively in the Arctic Council as permanent participants. Their contribution to the Council’s work is indispensable.

They have first-hand knowledge of the Arctic environment and are directly affected by the impacts of global warming and other environmental degradation.

The Arctic Council produces ground-breaking reports on the Arctic. Its extensive work on climate change has been particularly important.

[It has proven beyond doubt that the climate is changing at a fast rate, with serious and far reaching consequences.]

New challenges have been met by legally binding agreements between the Arctic states.

Among the important issues that have been addressed are search and rescue and marine oil pollution in the Arctic.

The establishment of the Arctic Council secretariat in Tromsø [(the biggest city in the Norwegian Arctic)] in 2012, was a milestone in the Council’s nearly 20 years of existence.

The US took over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council at the recent Ministerial Meeting in Iqaluit, Canada.

We welcome the US priorities for their chairmanship period, which include a special focus on climate change.

Norway believes it is important that the business sector is included in discussions on the development of the Arctic, in order to find safe and sustainable answers to the challenges in the north.

We therefore warmly welcome the establishment of the Arctic Economic Council, which will open its own secretariat in Tromsø this spring.

The Arctic Council is a best practice example of regional cooperation.

The Arctic states – with valuable contributions from the Arctic Council observer states – have shown that we are able to work together to find solutions to common challenges.

This also goes for Norway’s neighbour – Russia. We have a long history of constructive neighbourly cooperation.

Russia’s violations of international law in Ukraine have, however, affected our relations. Norway has implemented the same restrictive measures against Russia as the EU.

For Norway, it is important to stand together with other European countries and allies, to defend basic principles of international law.

Nevertheless, it is important to continue to cooperate on important issues such as search and rescue, the management of fish stocks, environmental protection, nuclear safety, maritime safety, and Coast Guard and Border Guard activities.

It is a great asset for the Arctic states that non-Arctic states are showing increased interest in the region.

Norway welcomed new observers to the Arctic Council at the 2013 Ministerial, where the Arctic family was extended to include several Asian countries.

The Arctic has become an arena for cooperation between Europe, North America and Asia. This presents us with new opportunities.

Norway will also continue to work for the swift formalisation of the EU’s observer status.

In response to the increased international interest in the Arctic, we need robust regional development in the north, based on knowledge and innovation.

The Arctic is not a homogenous region. Due to the North Atlantic Current, temperature and ice conditions in the – mostly ice-free – Norwegian part of the Arctic are vastly different from those of the Alaskan, part for example.

Climatic conditions and the level of human activity vary greatly across the region.

At the same time, Arctic states also share many of the same challenges, which underpin the need for cooperation and knowledge-sharing between the peoples of the north.

The Norwegian Government aims to promote sustainable business development in the north. We are working towards that goal every day, and have initiated various schemes to enhance trans-border business cooperation, including seed funds to stimulate activity in the north.

These efforts are targeted at industries with growth potential, like the maritime sector, the seafood industry, the mineral industry, tourism, space technology, and of course the oil and gas and the fisheries sectors.

Space technology is one area in which the region is already a world leader.

The high latitude, Northern Norway and the Svalbard archipelago, is an asset when it comes to space technology. Several research centres in Northern Norway make up the Norwegian space research cluster.

Our aim is to make the Norwegian Arctic one of the most innovative regions in the world, driving growth and prosperity on the basis of knowledge and science.

The region has always been a stronghold of traditional knowledge, and it is important to maintain a close dialogue with the indigenous peoples.

We want to build on existing experience and capacity when developing scientific institutions and cooperation.

We have a common interest in carrying out research in the polar regions. Future climatic and environmental challenges need extensive international research cooperation.

The EU’s contribution to Arctic research has been substantial. It is evident that we share the notion that knowledge about the Arctic is paramount. 

For decades scientists from European countries have conducted research on the Svalbard archipelago,

Favourable natural conditions, easy accessibility and well-developed infrastructure and logistics make Svalbard a highly attractive platform for research cooperation in the Arctic.

The Norwegian Government intends to strengthen coordination and sharing of infrastructure with a view to further developing Svalbard as a platform for international research cooperation. Coordinated efforts will also lessen the human footprint in this vulnerable polar environment.

Responsible resource management is the key to sustainable economic growth in the north. This means that we must make sure that both new and traditional industries can live side by side, not least that fisheries and the oil and gas activities can coexist.

Norway is very aware that it is responsible, together with Russia, for the sustainable management of the world’s largest cod stock in the Barents Sea. If well-managed, it will continue to be an economic asset for everyone involved in the fish industry. But even more important: It will contribute to a healthy diet for generations to come.

This is why we work hard not only to promote robust regional development, based on knowledge and innovation, but also to promote responsible resource management, based on an ecosystem and science-based approach, including integrated ocean management plans.

Vulnerable areasare carefully managed, and research on the effects of climate change on living resources is a high priority.

In 2013, the cod quota in the Barents Sea was at a record high of 1 million tonnes, with an export value of nearly USD 1 billion. From 2013 to 2014 the export value of cod species in Norwegian waters increased by 20 %.

This is due to our sound management (together with Russia) of fish stocks in the Barents Sea, based on scientific data. The only sound basis. 

The global demand for energy will increase by 35–40 % over the next 20 years, according to the International Energy Agency.

As other parts of the Arctic become more accessible, we will be able to produce more energy from the region.

Both fluctuations in oil prices and the need to cut emissions are stimulating innovation and the development of new technology.

Oil and gas will continue to be an important part of the global energy mix, while there are promising signs of increases in the share of renewable energy.

There have been oil and gas activities in the Norwegian Arctic for decades, and there is now increasing activity in the Barents Sea as well. The most recent development is Goliat, which will start production this summer. Goliat is the first cylindrical floating, production, storage and offloading facility on the Norwegian continental shelf, and is tailored for the Arctic conditions.

The Norwegian oil and gas sector complies with the strictest environmental and security standards in the world. 

Global warming is not primarily caused by oil and gas activities in the Arctic, but rather by emissions from activities all over the world.

But the impacts of climate change are particularly visible in the Arctic.

In the long term, the fate of the Arctic environment – and the pace of global climate change – depends on our collective efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the last 100 years, temperatures in the Arctic have been rising twice as fast as the global average.

In September 2012, the extent of the Arctic sea ice was at a record low.

The Arctic Ocean will probably become virtually ice-free in this century.

Over the last two decades, the Arctic ice sheets have been losing mass.

Almost all glaciers worldwide have continued to shrink (IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report).

We know that the changes taking place in the Arctic will not be confined to the Arctic.

The global effects of the climate change observed in the Arctic are serious.

As the Arctic warms, monsoon weather patterns are expected to change. The melting of polar ice will cause rising sea levels globally and accelerate global warming.

The Arctic is a barometer for global climate change.

Clearly, the changes taking place in the Arctic are a call for action.

They should give momentum to the ongoing international negotiations.

They should spur the COP21 process forward, and provide an incentive for a strong agreement at the Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.

We all have an important role to play in mobilising action to address one of the world’s greatest challenges. A concerted effort is essential.

I am proud of the way Arctic states have addressed challenges in the region and enhanced their cooperation.

We have worked together in areas such as resource management, climate change and the environment.

And we will continue to work together. We look forward to strengthening our cooperation with the EU in the COP21 process and in forums such as the Arctic Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.

We need to balance our responsibility to protect this fragile environment with our responsibility to facilitate sustainable livelihoods for the peoples in the region.

We also need to balance different economic interests in the region.

Knowledge is the key. The Arctic is complex and we need to understand it better.

Scientific research will be essential for developing future solutions.

A statement by Fridtjof Nansen takes us to the core of Norway’s approach to the Arctic: “The great thing in human life is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.”   

As we move forward in the Arctic, we must be guided by knowledge, responsibility, international cooperation and respect for universal values and principles.

Thank you


[photo credits: By Ximonic (Simo Räsänen) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]






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