The world population will be close to 10 billion in 2050. To meet the needs of a growing population, more of our food, energy, medicine, minerals and transport will have to come from the oceans. In tandem with this, sustainable growth in the world’s ocean industries is required to create jobs, income and economic and social development.
To move this crucial political agenda forward, the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, is taking the initiative to establish an international High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy.
The objective is to increase international understanding of how the sustainable use of the oceans – and the ocean economy – can play a key role in meeting the world’s most vital needs in the years to come.
The ambition is to make a significant contribution to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Prime Minister Solberg has invited a number of her colleagues from other coastal states in various parts of the world to participate in the panel. Palau and Portugal have already accepted the invitation. The panel will cooperate closely with the UN and the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, who just launched the important initiative Friends of Ocean Action. Key stakeholders from civil society and representatives of ocean industries will provide input and advice. Additionally, a group of experts will provide scientific reports to the panel.
The 2019 Our Ocean Conference, to be hosted by Norway, will be an important milestone for the panel, as will a second UN conference on the oceans in 2020. The High-level Panel will present its final report the same year.
It is crucial that coastal and maritime nations work together to highlight the huge potential to be found in building a sustainable ocean economy. It is the Prime Minister’s intention that the panel should work in an open and transparent manner, and engage debate far beyond the panel itself. It would also promote a long-needed global political dialogue on how we can ensure healthy and rich oceans for the future.
The development of the blue economy and the sustainable use of the oceans form an integral part of our foreign and development policy. The policy focuses on three priority areas: sustainable use and value creation, clean and healthy oceans, and the role of the blue economy in development policy.
Norway’s prosperity depends on the sustainable use of the oceans. We remain at the forefront internationally in the areas of shipping, offshore oil and gas, as well as fisheries and aquaculture. We have extensive experience of managing marine ecosystems and we have stringent environmental standards. Research-based knowledge and technological development are of key importance in this context.
Norway’s commitment to international ocean issues
Ensuring clean and healthy oceans is a key priority. Based on a Norwegian proposal, the UN Environment Assembly in December 2017 adopted a vision for zero plastic waste in the oceans.
Norway has launched a NOK 150 million programme aimed at combatting marine litter and microplastics in the oceans in developing countries. Initially, the programme will focus on Southeast Asia, which is the region where the problem is most acute.
Through the Fish for development program Norway provides capacity building related to fisheries and aquaculture in many developing countries. A brand new research vessel – Dr. Fridtjof Nansen –financed by Norway, conducts stock assessments and other types of research for the benefit of developing countries.
Norway will host the sixth Our Ocean conference in 2019. There is global momentum for the sustainable use and conservation of the oceans. In the run-up to the conference, Norway intends to benefit from the insights generated by the many ocean-related initiatives now underway.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is key for the sustainable management of the marine environment. In accordance with UNCLOS, Norway will continue to work for regional organisations and mechanisms to be the first line option in marine resource management and protection.