Oceans – the Key to the Future

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Norway’s sights turn to the sea the week of June 4, 2017, as the United Nations’ Ocean Conference kicks off in New York, and World Oceans Day is observed around the globe. Norway, a nation with a long and storied maritime tradition, is at the forefront of the movement to #SaveOurOcean.

The oceans offer great potential for human development both in Norway and globally. The world’s population is expected to increase by more than two billion by 2050, increasing the demand for resources such as food and energy from the oceans.

There are considerable opportunities for sustainable growth in ocean-based industries in the time ahead. However, there is also serious concern about environmental problems such as pollution and marine litter, climate change, and unsustainable uses of the oceans, such as overfishing.

White Paper on the Oceans’ Place in Foreign Policy

This year, Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs composed its first ever white paper on the place of the oceans in the country’s foreign and domestic policy.

“The Government is stepping up its efforts to promote Norway's ocean interests. We intend to make sustainable use of the oceans a global priority,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The white paper gives special priority to three areas: sustainable use and blue growth, clean and healthy oceans, and the role of the blue economy in development policy.

“International cooperation is the key to tackling the challenges we are facing. Environmental problems such as plastic litter are threatening life in the sea. Given the importance of the oceans for a large proportion of the world's population, dealing with these problems should be a global priority. Norway will play a leading role internationally in efforts to keep the world's oceans clean and healthy,” said Mr. Brende.

The Government will set aside NOK 100 million (USD 12 million) for a development program to combat marine litter and microplastics.

The white paper highlights the Arctic seas as one of Norway's important ocean interests. It also emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the Law of the Sea be implemented effectively. The Law of the Sea is crucial for international stability and predictability, and for marine management and commercial use of the oceans.

The white paper also says that the Government will allocate more than NOK 5 billion (USD 590 million) to climate-related measures through the development assistance budget in 2017, to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on the oceans.

United Nations’ Oceans Conference

The United Nations’ Oceans Conference takes place in New York, Mon., June 5 through Fri., June 9. Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment Vidar Helgesen and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tone Skogen will be in attendance.

The conference’s organizers bill it as “the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. It will be solutions-focused with engagement from all.”

World Oceans Day

Thurs., June 8 is also World Oceans Day, http://www.worldoceansday.org/, a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future.

The overall theme for World Oceans Day 2017 is “Our Oceans, Our Future,” with a focus on encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future.