Official visit to the US: Looking North Together
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all for the warm welcome I have received in Alaska. It feels very much like coming home.
Both Norwegians and Alaskans are peoples of the north. Perhaps this is why we share several characteristics: our respect for nature, our love of the outdoors, and the fact that we never, never, complain about the weather.
The world is increasingly looking to the north. The US has recently taken over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Climate change and increased human activity are making this body more relevant than ever.
It is Alaska that makes the US an Arctic nation. The knowledge and experience of the people of this state have been forged through centuries of toil at the northern tip of the American continent. Your voice is an important and necessary guide for your great nation in its approach to the Arctic.
A common history and shared values have created strong bonds between the US and Norway. I will never forget our heartfelt welcome by the American people when my family was forced to flee Norway during the Second World War and came to the US, where I stayed for five years.
My family were not the only Norwegians to look to America for safety and a better life. Many of you are here now because your ancestors moved to America. Your presence here today is testimony to our shared traditions and cultural heritage.
Norwegian polar explorers also ventured to the US. Roald Amundsen’s ship Gjøa reached Nome, Alaska, in August 1906. He and his crew became the first to cross the Northwest Passage after spending three years in the ice.
Later he would be the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911 – before returning to Alaska in 1926 after crossing the North Pole by airship. He thereby became the first person to have been to both poles.
In February this year, I visited Antarctica for the 10th anniversary of the Norwegian research station, Troll. And last month, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited the Norwegian research vessel Lance, which is currently drifting in the Arctic ice in a similar way to Fridtjof Nansen’s vessel Fram.
Research and reliable data are essential in our struggle against climate change. The projects at the Poles give us valuable knowledge in finding solutions to one of the greatest challenges of our time.
As you can understand, this has been an active polar spring for me and my family. Now I am happy to be here today to open this conference on how Alaska and Norway can promote Arctic knowledge together.
Knowledge must be our guiding light as we seek to address our shared challenges. Unless we increase our knowledge, we will never deepen our understanding of the complexity of the region.
Roald Amundsen once said that "Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck."
To the experts who will speak after me at this lunch – and at the roundtable discussion after lunch – I would like to say: Take Amundsen’s advice seriously. Let no stone be left unturned as you seek to increase our understanding about the Arctic.
Work hard, be well prepared, and you will have – as Amundsen put it – good luck.
Thank you – tusen takk!