Official visit to the US: Arctic Seminar
Ladies and gentlemen
It is very nice to see you this morning, ant it is great to be back in Washington, in these beautiful new premises of the Norwegian embassy. I have looked very much forward to meeting with all of you this morning who, like me, share a passion for the Arctic.
The Arctic is in many ways a mystery. It is beautiful and vulnerable. It is resourceful and rough. And it is center of attention for trade and security policies.
Norway and the US are both Arctic coastal states, and our Arctic relations encompass many topics. Today offers an opportunity to learn more about the full scope of our ties. This seminar marks the opening of ‘Arctic Winter’, a series of in-depth events to be hosted by the Norwegian Embassy in the coming months.
Our nations both have a long and proud polar history. Americans and Norwegians have explored new frontiers for centuries, individually and together.
As Arctic nations we have many common interests. We work together in the Arctic Council and share the vision of a stable, peaceful Arctic, with constructive cooperation between states, indigenous peoples and others. The Arctic Council is the most important forum for multilateral cooperation on Arctic issues. Norway greatly values the opportunities the Council provides for dialogue and cooperation across oceans and national borders.
As close allies, Norway and the US regularly share views and information about developments in the Arctic as we see from our respective geographical locations. Open, frank discussions between friends, based on facts and extensive knowledge of the region, are more important than ever.
The Arctic is home to a total of 4 million people. Well over 1 million of these live either in Alaska or in northern Norway. Some 9 % of Norway’s population lives north of the Arctic Circle. Our northernmost communities are witnessing the dramatic impacts of climate change first-hand.
The ice cap is melting, and air and water temperatures are rising more rapidly than anywhere else in the world. We must make it a priority to fully understand the implications of this - for our nations, for our local Arctic communities, for our nature and wildlife and for the global climate. When ice melts in the high north, the sea level rises in the tropical south. This is a fact that illustrates how intertwined we are as a global community, sharing this one and only planet.
We need to ensure that people can continue to live and work in the Arctic. Many businesses and institutions located in the Norwegian Arctic are on the cutting edge when it comes to low-carbon technologies, renewable energy, space and polar research. There is untapped potential for increased cooperation with US partners in these areas.
Throughout our history we have depended on the oceans for our livelihoods. Continuing to harvest ocean resources in a sustainable manner is crucial to modern-day Arctic communities.
Sustainable ocean management is also an important part of the solution if the world is to deliver on the 1.5 degree climate target. The US and Norway are strengthening their dialogue on ocean issues. The US recently decided to join the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, and its participation there will be crucial.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very much looking forward to this morning’s conversation between Norway’s Foreign Minister Huitfeldt, Senator Murkowski from Alaska and Senator King from Maine.
I am confident that the cooperation between the US and Norway in the Arctic will continue to expand in the time ahead.
Our combined efforts are vital to uphold our common goals and visions for the Arctic.
Thank you for your attention.