Statement at the 2023 Prague Forum on the Economic and Environmental Dimension of the OSCE

As delivered by Ambassador Victor Rønneberg at the Opening Session of the 2023 Prague Forum, Prague,14 September 2023

Mr Chair, Excellencies, Madame Secretary General, distinguished participants,

I would like to begin by expressing our thanks to the Chairpersonship of North Macedonia for convening this Prague Forum on the Economic and Environmental Dimension of the OSCE, and to the Czech Government for being our gracious host. Norway is a staunch supporter of the OSCE’s Second Dimension, and the Economic and Environmental Forum (EEF). We regret that consensus on the 31st EEF could not be reached, and underline that the Economic and Environmental Forum is crucial to achieving real progress.

The Prague Forum takes place against the backdrop of yet another year of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. While the Ukrainian population has undoubtedly borne the brunt of the consequences of Russia’s aggression, the broader and long-term environmental, social, and economic effects of the war are not confined to Ukraine. The transboundary nature of the environmental and economic aspects of the war makes the Russian aggression a broad international security threat. It reaffirms what we all know: that the security of us all is tied to the security of Ukraine.

Mr Chair,

Economic and environmental issues are undeniably linked to issues of security and stability. Sustainable development, and resilient and inclusive economic growth is integral to advancement in the OSCE region. Facilitating experience-sharing and best-practices on economic and environmental topics is furthermore key to global progress on the Sustainable Development Agenda, and thereby key to reducing global inequalities, and ensuring that no one is left behind.

While economic growth and development are crucial drivers of progress, Norway regards inclusive economic growth as key to truly sustainable, and equal development. Women’s empowerment translates directly into broad-based economic growth, sustainability, and prosperity. The World Economic Forum has on several occasions ranked Norway among the world’s most inclusive advanced economies. This has been achieved through national policies aimed at providing opportunities for women to enter the workforce, and to utilize their full potential. We cannot achieve sustainable economic growth with only half the population: the empowerment of women is not only morally right, it is also economically sound.

Mr Chair,

We are pleased with the Chairpersonship’s focus on these issues, and look particularly forward to the conference sessions on combating climate change for sustainable and climate-resilient development, and on mitigating potential damage from natural or human-made disasters.

Norway views disaster-risk management and combatting climate change as two sides of the same coin. Human activity has had severe impact on our environment, and has accelerated the rate of climate change. This, in turn, has affected the frequency of natural disasters. In recent months, many of our countries have experienced extreme weather conditions, including heatwaves, fires, landslides, and mass floodings, leading to large-scale destruction and deaths. Increasing resilience to natural and man-made disasters at both regional and national level is key to dealing with the consequences of climate change.

Norway has long argued that climate change can both lead to and amplify security threats, and therefore must be part of the security agenda. The OSCE High-Level Conference on Climate Change was an important step towards developing joint solutions to tackling climate-related security risks. International climate action is a matter of political will. Just last week, four years ahead of deadline, Norway achieved its 2021 COP26 pledge to double annual climate finance, attesting to the international community’s potential to deliver on climate-related goals.

Mr Chair, distinguished colleagues,

In closing, let me underline that there can be no sustainable development without security, and no security without sustainable development. The OSCE is uniquely positioned to make substantive and meaningful progress on the issues of security, sustainable development, and resilient and inclusive economic growth. Norway remains committed to the work of the OSCE’s Second Dimension, and will contribute to a meaningful dialogue and concrete results on environmental and economic issues.

Thank you.