I would like to begin by thanking the Chairpersonship of North Macedonia, the Austrian Chairpersonship of the Economic and Environmental Committee, and the Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) for convening this meeting. Norway is pleased to take part in the 2023 Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting (EEDIM). This provides us with an opportunity to take stock of progress on implementing our common commitments, connecting our vision for the future with concrete actions in the second dimension.
In evaluating our efforts in the field of environment and security, we must ensure that our efforts are grounded in the current reality: this year, we have witnessed extreme weather events, including heatwaves, fires, landslides, and mass floodings, leading to large-scale destruction and even deaths. Heat records have followed one after the other throughout the summer and well into the autumn. There is no doubt that the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation are already here, altering our security landscape in profound ways. In Norway, this is particularly challenging in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing four times faster than the rest of the world. But we have also seen severe floodings in southern and central Norway this year.
In Ukraine, we have seen the cascading effects of Russia’s war of aggression, causing environmental damage that will persist for years. It reaffirms the incontrovertible fact that environment and security are fundamentally linked. These realities necessitate enhanced joint action and response, requiring a concerted effort from all participating States.
In addition to its wide-reaching security implications, threats to the environment undermine economic prosperity, damage global health, jeopardizes development, and can even serve as an impetus for conflict. The question is therefore not if we should enhance regional and national efforts to address the security implications of environmental issues, it is how.
With the sheer diversity of the OSCE region – and the scope of the environmental issues we face – exploring how we can best facilitate the sharing of best-practices is imperative. Doing so will allow us to capitalize on our diversity, and develop a better, and broader response. And from these discussions, we must ultimately transform dialogue into concrete action.
We are very much looking forward to the sessions on good environmental governance, and on addressing environmental threats. These issues are key priorities for Norway, and are integral to our efforts to realize the sustainable development goals, as well as to achieve security and stability in the OSCE region. We hope that today’s discussions will be fruitful, and that we will be able to realize the full potential of this platform.
In conclusion, let me emphasize that Norway finds it important to have our mandated implementation meetings in all three dimensions of security, and not only in the second dimension. A more flexible approach to this by all participating states next year would be appreciated.