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Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to congratulate your Excellencies Ambassadors Beckles and Picco on being appointed Co-Chairs of the twentieth meeting of the United Nations Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, and commend you for the work you have done in preparing this meeting.
I would also like to thank the Secretariat for their contributions to facilitate these discussions, such as preparing the first part of the report of the Secretary-General on developments and issues relating to ocean affairs and the law of the sea.
This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. When it was adopted, The Convention constituted a major advancement in the promotion and regulation of ocean science. As underlined in its preamble, One of the Conventions’ key purposes is establishing a legal order that promotes the study of the marine environment. Part XIII of the Convention constitutes a comprehensive legal framework for marine scientific research. An important part of which is the obligation to promote international cooperation in marine scientific research and transfer of knowledge.
Also Agenda 21 strongly emphasises that scientific capacity should be enhanced, and that sound science must be at the centre in all management decisions. The importance of ocean science is furthermore reflected throughout the targets under Sustainable Development Goal 14, including when minimising and addressing the impacts of ocean acidification, implementing management plans, conserving marine areas, as well as enhancing the contribution of marine biodiversity to development, and thereby contributing to food security. Ocean science also cuts across other Sustainable Development Goals.
The report of the Secretary General highlights further areas where ocean science plays a pivotal role, such as in the fisheries management process, in understanding the cumulative impacts of various activities taking place at sea and on land, and when we compile nautical charts for safe navigation. The report underlines the steady progress made towards increasing our understanding of the oceans, referring to the findings in UNESCOs Global Ocean Science Report.
Climate change affects the oceans in a multitude of ways, and we need science to better understand these processes, and to address and if possible mitigate them. We are looking forward to the special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate, expected to be published in September this year.
Science is fundamental to Norway´s marine policy. We have a long tradition of ocean management based on scientific advice, with more than hundred years of institutional experience. We have invested a lot in marine science. Sound ocean science has been crucial in developing sustainable use of the oceans in our fisheries, the shipping industry and off-shore oil and gas sector. Many thousands of Norwegians spend their workdays in one of the ocean industries, and they account for nearly 70 per cent of Norwegian export earnings. We are all well served by sticking to the science as the basis for our decisons. This applies in domestic as well as in international fora and processes, such as the BBNJ.
We also recognise the strong need for regional and global cooperation in marine scientific research and transfer of knowledge. In this regard we very much welcome the decision last autumn to grant the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) observer status to the General Assembly. We are certain that ICES will contribute and engage actively in relevant work of the United Nations developing the science basis to assist ecosystem based management and enhancing marine science training and capacity building.
It is a priority for Norway to support developing countries so that they can fulfill their obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention and also utilize their rights and develop their possibilities. One example is the Nansen Programme, which for more than 40 years has provided an opportunity for coastal developing countries to do research in their own waters in promotion of sustainable use of the oceans.
Norway supports projects directed at improving the management of blue forests and involving local coastal communities in fighting poverty by promoting sustainable use. Norway will in the coming years increase support to knowledge and capacity building in partner countries and prioritize research into the role of forests in the global carbon cycle.
Last year Prime Minister Solberg of Norway established the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. As the only ocean policy body consisting of serving world leaders, the panel has the authority and determination needed to trigger and accelerate action for ocean protection and productivity. The panel will deliver its final Report in 2020, integrating the work of multiple expert contributors from a range of relevant fields, with a focus on the protection and sustainable use of the Ocean to generate higher value creation.
In advance of the final Report, World Resources Institute will publish a series of “Blue Papers” exploring specific themes of the Sustainable Ocean Economy. These papers will summarize the latest science, synthesize state-of-the-art thinking about innovative Ocean solutions, and focus particularly on implications for the economic development and social welfare of developing countries.
As part of the preparation of the work of the High Level Panel, 150 ocean experts from more than 50 countries met in Bergen in 2018 to discuss critical science-based actions in response to the problems facing the oceans. The conference, hosted by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, addressed areas of serious concern, aiming to make a contribution towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and fuel the work of the High-Level Panel. The report from this conference was presented later in this meeting.
Science-based, integrated ocean management will also be a central theme running through the Our Ocean conference, to be hosted by Norway in Oslo in October this year. The conference will highlight the importance of knowledge as the basis for our actions and policies to ensure protection of our oceans, responsible management of marine resources and sustainable future economic growth.
The Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development comes at a critical juncture for the oceans. Norway commends the IOC-UNESCO for the initiative and the continued involvment. We are engaged in the future planning and implementation of the decade and intend to provide support to the planning phase. We are now in the process of establishing the domestic mechanisms for the implentation of the decade and have allocated 3-4 million Norwegian kroner over the next two years.
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