Delivered by State Secretary Marianne Hagen
Dear colleagues and friends,
It is a great pleasure to address this working session on Blue Economy and Green Trade. Let me start by thanking the WTO and UN Environment for facilitating the important dialogue on how to align trade more closely with a greener and more inclusive world. Trade policies and environmental policies must work together and be mutually supportive. I am convinced that this is an important contribution towards realising the Sustainable Development Goals.
I want to thank my co-panelists for joining me this morning. I would also like to extend a special thanks to the Ambassador of Chile to the WTO, H.E. Mr. Eduardo Galvez for moderating this event.
My objective for this working session is to provide a Norwegian perspective on how productive oceans depend on healthy oceans. Rules-based trade and scientifically grounded resource management can help ensure the health of the oceans and sustainable blue growth.
In April 2016, the OECD issued a report called Ocean Economy in 2030, which describes the enormous potential of the oceans for global economic growth. The report states that the ocean holds the promise of immense resource wealth and great potential for boosting economic growth, employment and innovation. A key insight from the report is that the oceans will add significantly more value to the world economy if we manage ocean resources sustainably.
There is widespread agreement that a greater share of the world’s growing needs for food, medicines, energy, minerals and transport will have to come from the oceans.
Today, less than five percent of the food the world consumes comes from the sea. We will not reach the global goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty without increasing that share.
The world’s oceans face multiple stresses from over-exploitation, pollution, declining biodiversity and climate change. Realising the full potential of the oceans demand responsible, sustainable approaches to its economic development.
Norway is, and has always been, dependent on the ocean. It has been a solid provider of food, transportation routes, work and income to our people throughout the ages. Today, more than two thirds of Norway’s export revenues come from coastal and ocean based activities – fisheries, aquaculture, shipping and energy production.
This is part of the backdrop for the Norwegian government’s decision to formulate a clear policy on how Norway and the international community can make sure that we use the oceans sustainably.
In 2017, the Norwegian Government presented two key policy documents: 1) An Ocean Strategy for sustainable growth in Norway’s ocean-based industries, and 2) a White Paper to Parliament on the Place of the Oceans in Norway’s foreign and development policy.
The ambition of both documents is that Norway should play a leading role in securing sustainable use of the oceans. We are also strengthening the role of the blue economy in our development cooperation.
In addition, Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, spearheaded the creation of a High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, consisting of Heads of Government from coastal states around the world. The Panel works to increase global understanding of the relationship between clean and healthy oceans, sustainable use of ocean resources and economic growth and development. The panel had its first meeting last week, during the UN General Assembly in New York. The panel will produce an action-oriented report to be released in 2020.
A key aspect of the sustainable ocean economy is managing fisheries.
Three out of ten of the world’s commercial fish stocks are overexploited. According to the World Bank, the fisheries sector is losing a staggering 83 billion US dollars a year, largely because of overfishing. This hits developing nations the hardest.
The good news is that irresponsible practices are reversible. More and closer international cooperation is not only needed but also achievable. Cooperation matters and has real impact.
In 1989, the Arctic cod stock was at an historic low. It was obvious to both Norway and our neighbour Russia that something had to be done. Ever since, Norwegian and Russian scientists have carried out joint research on the management of fisheries. Their scientific advice inform decision-makers to limit catch quotas on both sides of the border. The results are striking. Today, the cod stock is ten times the size it was, and is now the largest in the world. Its annual economic value is roughly 2 billion dollars.
The success of the Arctic cod stock is reflected in Norway’s system of integrated, ecosystem-based management plans for all Norwegian sea areas. The plans provide a framework for the sustainable use of the sea areas while safeguarding the marine ecosystems. They are concrete tools for promoting the blue economy in Norway.
Strict observance and enforcement of environmental standards have made it possible for ocean-based industries and a healthy marine environment to co-exist. Norway`s offshore oil and gas production exists side by side with some of the healthiest marine fisheries in the world. Responsible ocean management ensures sustainable harvesting and food production as well as employment, growth and welfare for generations to come.
In contrast, the global fishing fleet is already much larger than what the oceans can sustainably support. Subsidies exacerbate the problem. Concluding the WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies by the end of 2019 is a Norwegian priority. SDG 14.6 is part of the package to eliminate overfishing.
Countries that are worried about the sustainability of global capture fisheries, must be on the offensive to eliminate subsidies that lead to overfishing world-wide, including in their own waters, and they must make sure that all fishing takes place in a sustainable manner.
If based on responsible resource management, the blue economy will be a key driver of growth in developing countries. Norway is strengthening our efforts to share knowledge, technology and sustainable management strategies with developing economies. In this regard, I am very pleased that the Ambassador of Kenya to WTO, H.E. Dr. Cleopa Mailu, accepted the invitation to join me on this panel. In a short while, he will inform us about the Global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi in November this year. We expect the conference to generate key insights into how a sustainable blue economy can be realised.
Trade tools are important for achieving environmental goals. Being in the WTO, it is highly relevant to mention one potential – although yet unrealised – trade tool specifically, the Environmental Goods Agreement, the EGA. The aim of the EGA is to eliminate tariffs on a broad range of environmental goods. Getting rid of such tariffs would have the potential to contribute positively to the environment by making goods cheaper and more easily tradeable.
Many of the products discussed in the negotiations are directly relevant to oceans and the shipping industry. Two specific examples are “the ballast treatment systems” - that help avoid the spread of invasive species, and battery-powered ferries that are energy efficient, have no emissions to air and can use cleaner and renewable energy. Unfortunately, it was not possible to finalise the EGA negotiations in 2016 as planned, despite the hard efforts and valuable work invested. Norway hopes that it will be possible to resume these negotiations in the not too distant future. The complexity of these negotiations is not lost on anyone in this room. However, trade rules that favour more sustainable production and consumption would not only benefit the planet, but also the relevance of the WTO itself.
Some say oceans divide – we say oceans unite. Throughout history, ships have connected peoples and cultures. They have carried food and goods. Ships carry and seaports handle more than 80 per cent of global trade by volume and more than 70 per cent of its value. This unites us. The oceans are the highways of global markets. The importance of maritime transport for trade and development cannot be underestimated. Likewise, the global cooperation among governments on maritime transportation at the International Maritime Organization is of utmost importance.
We must strengthen the role of the IMO further. Especially on the many environmental challenges shipping has to respond to. We need firm and effective actions from the IMO as global regulator for shipping, and further strong support for the IMO’s technical co-operation with developing countries.
I want to congratulate the IMO on the Strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from shipping. This is a milestone achievement. A clear proof of the high level of understanding and willingness for cooperation by the IMO Member States. I look forward to hearing the presentation from IMO, as well as from the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association on how the maritime industry can implement this strategy and prepare itself for the transition to a low-emission society. I would like to commend the Shipowners’ Association for their active role in developing global standards for a truly global industry.
Limiting the impact of global warming and stopping the flows of waste into the sea are acute and global concerns. Plastic waste is of a particular concern because of its sheer volume and the fact that it does not disappear. Growth in the global use of plastic-intensive consumer goods is projected to increase significantly over the next ten years, especially in markets where waste-management systems are only just emerging.
Tackling this challenge requires an integrated approach. We need to reduce the use of plastics¸ reuse the plastic we do need, and finally recycle degraded material to prevent it from reaching the oceans. In December last year, the third session of the UN Environment Assembly adopted a resolution, proposed by Norway, with the aim to stop the flow of waste and microplastics into the ocean. We need to develop a global response. We need a new global structure to deal with the problem within the framework of the UN Environment Assembly.
In addition, we need to strengthen other international and regional organisations that can contribute to solving the problem within their mandates. I would say that we are on the right path:
1. Based on an initiative from Norway and several other states, the IMO is now preparing an action plan for preventing marine littering from ships.
2. The Basel Convention on Controlling Transboundary Movement on Hazardous Waste is also an important tool in the fight against marine littering and microplastics into the oceans. Recently, Norway succeeded in getting support for strengthening the Convention’s work on marine litter and microplastics. Furthermore, Norway has proposed that the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention consider amending the Convention with the aim of increasing control over the trans-border trade in plastics.
In addition to a stronger global framework, we need to strengthen our measures. This year, Norway will launch a programme to combat waste and plastics in the oceans in developing countries, with a budget of around 280 million kroner, or about 35 million dollars.
Norway has also taken the initiative to establish a multi-donor trust fund in the World Bank to tackle marine pollution, manage fisheries and foster the sustainable growth of coastal economies. The Norwegian Prime Minister together with the World Bank and other donors announced the fund, named PROBLUE, during the opening of the UN General Assembly last week.
A zero vision for discharging plastics into the ocean is ambitious, but if we join forces and commit to the necessary global teamwork – we can make substantial progress. Blue growth must also must be green growth. Norway has harvested ocean resources for centuries – without reducing their value. We have shown in practice that green growth is not a contradiction in terms.
A transition to green trade must be a key part of such a global strategy. Technological breakthroughs and the international business community’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals reflect the momentum towards a blue economy where we can all produce, protect and prosper.
I hope that this working session will be inspiring, increase knowledge and build better understanding of the way forward towards creating green trade and blue business.
Thank you for your attention!