Statement at the Our Ocean conference

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide's statement at the Our Ocean Conference in Indonesia 29 October.

By Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (Bali, 29 October)

President Widodo,
Minister Marsudi, Minister Pudjiastuti,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Richard Attenborough once said that the oceans define us.

I could not agree more.

In the distant past, the oceans gave rise to life, as we know it.

The oceans are where we come from, and they hold the key to our future.

***

From Washington DC, via Valparaiso and Valletta to Bali - the Our Ocean conferences have been vital in driving the ocean agenda forward.

In 2014, Secretary Kerry, who is here today, initiated the first Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC. Since then our pledges, commitments and engagement have increased considerably.

Because Our Ocean is all about taking action.

Working together is the only way to strike the balance between ocean production and protection.

***

In the next 30 years, the world’s population is expected to grow by two billion people.

That means that the future share of food and other resources coming from the oceans will have to increase substantially to meet growing demand.

This can be done – estimates show that the ocean economy could more than double its contribution to the global economy by 2030.

This requires us to manage the oceans wisely.

Because rich oceans depend on clean oceans.

***

Ensuring sustainable us of the oceans is really a matter of life and death for our planet.

The oceans provide the oxygen for every second breath we take.

They absorb about one third of our Co2 emissions.

They put healthy food on the table.

It is no understatement to say that healthy oceans are a prerequisite for life on our planet.

However, at present, three out of ten of the world’s commercial fish stocks are overexploited.

Marine ecosystems are under severe pressure from global warming, ocean acidification and pollution.

It is our common responsibility to reverse these trends.

There is really no alternative.

***

Over two thirds of Norwegian export revenues come from coastal and ocean-based activities – fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, and energy production.

In order to safeguard our welfare in the future, we maintain the balance between conservation and sustainable use.

Experience shows that we can harvest the ocean’s resources without reducing their value.

The Arctic cod stock in the Barents Sea is a good example.

In 1989, alarm bells went off as the Arctic cod stock was at a historically low level.

It was obvious to both Norway and Russia that something had to be done.

Ever since then, Norwegian and Russian scientists have carried out joint research on the cod stocks.

Knowledge and advice is subsequently passed on to decision-makers on both sides of the border and to the joint Norwegian-Russian fisheries commission as the basis for sustainable management of fisheries.

Today, the cod stock is ten times the size it was, and is now the largest in the world. Its annual economic value is estimated at around 2 billion dollars.

This means that Norway's offshore production of oil and gas coexists with some of the healthiest wild fisheries in the world.

And it shows that international cooperation gives us the results we need, for our oceans and for our future.

***

Every minute an estimated 15 tonnes of litter enter our oceans.

This means that over the last five minutes, while I have been talking to you, over 75 tonnes have gone into the sea.

This is not sustainable for the ocean – and not sustainable for us. Fish eat plastic, and we eat fish.

We have to stop using the oceans as a dumpster.

Last year in Malta, Norway committed 20 million dollars to combat marine plastics and micro-plastics.

In 2018 our total contribution sums up to 35 million dollars.

Some of the funds are earmarked support the Indonesian government’s bold target of reducing plastic waste into the sea by 70% by 2025.

Today, I am happy to announce that Norway has set aside two hundred million dollars for the next four-year period to assist developing countries in combatting marine litter.

The Project Stop, in Muncar, just across the strait from Bali is a good example of an impactful measure.

Led by the organization Systemiq, in close cooperation with the local authorities, Project Stop is focusing on improving waste management on land to reduce the amount of marine litter. Norway is proud to be among its supporting partners.

***

In September the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, initiated and led by Norwegian Prime Minister Solberg, met for the first time.

The panel brings together world leaders who recognise that – if we are to “produce, protect and prosper” – economic production and ocean conservation must be mutually supportive.

We value the contributions of President Widodo and President of Palau, Remengesau.

Their participation also means that the hosts of Our Ocean 2018, 2019 and 2020 are all represented on the panel.

Over the next 18 months, the panel will study evidence-based proposals for how we can deal with ocean problems.

A roadmap to a sustainable ocean economy will be presented to the UN Oceans Conference in 2020.

***

Norway is proud to host the Our Ocean Conference in 2019.

It is an honor to build on the achievements of Bali, and of all the previous Our Ocean Conferences.

We will continue to explore how we can combine sustainable use of ocean resources with high environmental standards, to support future economic growth.

We need to take an integrated, science-based approach to ocean management, rather than managing oceans sector by sector.

Knowledge must be the basis of our actions and policies to ensure sustainable future economic growth.

We must continue to learn, share and act for clean, healthy and productive oceans.

I want to warmly welcome you to Our Ocean 2019 in Oslo

Thank you.