Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
For more than a thousand years, Norwegians have depended on the sea. For food, for work, and for our development as a modern nation. The oceans run like a ‘blue thread’ through Norway’s history and economy. They have been - and will remain - a vital source of jobs, wealth and health.
Coastal societies have this in common. The oceans are ingrained in our culture and mentality. The same is true for West African states -- but development along the coast and in the region is suffering under piracy and armed robbery. We all know that there is enormous potential for economic growth in the Gulf of Guinea.
Sustainable growth and sustainable resource management, if managed properly. And we know that the maritime sector - if allowed to reach its full potential - could provide jobs for thousands of young West Africans. As it has for generations of Norwegians.
The UNODC report takes a novel approach. It does not only look at the cost to ship-owners, the industry or the flag states. It also looks at the impact of maritime crime and piracy on the economies and development of the West African states. The report shows that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has significant direct and indirect costs for the West African states. And for the countries beyond.
This report adds a new dimension. It identifies the less obvious costs of decisions not to invest. The cost of lost opportunities. Evidence from interviews and data collected suggest indirect and opportunity costs of tens of billions of dollars. This is combined with the heavy personal cost to seafarers, who constantly face the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In other words, there is good reason for the UN to address this issue again.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the UNODC and Stable Seas for their excellent work and cooperation. As a member of both the UN Peacebuilding Commission and the UN Security Council, Norway will work closely with affected countries to address maritime insecurity in the Gulf.
Our common goal should be to unleash the full potential of the economies of the West African states. To achieve this, we must combat piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea.