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Why the sea is the key to sustainable development



It is only 12 years until 2030, the deadline for reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The world has set itself an ambitious task. To reach the SDGs, we must produce more from the oceans. We need the oceans to provide more food, more jobs and more energy. And we must maintain its ability to regulate the climate and support biodiversity.

These are all reasons for steering the oceans better. In order to build a sustainable marine economy, we must stop the degradation of the world's marine ecosystems and improve the marine environmental status. This will require action from all of us.

The seas run like a "blue thread" throughout Norwegian history. Sustainable exploitation of the oceans has laid the foundation for Norway's prosperity and welfare for our population. Our ocean industries account for over 70% of Norway's exports.

We are convinced that the oceans are the key to solving many of the world's most challenging tasks today. Eradication of hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. Fighting disease and pandemics. Combating climate change. Creating jobs in both developed and developing countries. Ensure affordable and clean energy for everyone. Self ensures peace and stability.

The Norwegian government has launched an ambitious marine strategy that includes both national and global elements. It is about green technology, digitization, innovative use of marine resources, international diplomacy and the fight against illegal fishing and plastic pollution. Research and knowledge are crucial factors.

The success of this strategy will depend on whether we can continue to combine the knowledge we have built over the years with innovation and research. We've done it before. When Norway first discovered oil in the North Sea in 1

969, we knew very little about the petroleum industry. But thanks to centuries of contact with the oceans and the experience of freight, shipbuilding and natural resource management, we learned to produce oil and gas in a cautious way.

And not least the expertise and technology developed in the North Sea, Norwegian shipyards have already built the world's first gas-powered and all-electric ferries and the first electric fishing vessels.

Our most experienced oil and gas companies are at the forefront of efforts to develop emission reduction technology. They create jobs and at the same time solve global problems. In addition, carbon emissions are cut from their traditional oil and gas production to levels that were not conceivable just a few years ago.

Our experience is that the following green policies do not lead businesses to red numbers.

For many years, Norway has worked with integrated, ecosystem-based management of its marine areas. This science-based approach ensures biodiversity and ensures sustainable resource utilization.

We have shown that it is fully possible to combine ocean-based industries such as fishing, aquaculture, shipping and energy production with a healthy marine environment.

In the Barents Sea, science-based management and close fishing cooperation between Russia and Norway has been a resounding success. Today, the cod stock in the Barents Sea is the world's largest and most valuable.

Norwegian seafood exports are increasing year by year. They include seafood from innovative fish farms that did not exist 40 years ago, as well as seafood from traditional fisheries – and both are produced sustainably.

   Obtaining SDG 14 is critical to achieving a number of the other goals

Achieving SDG 14 is critical to achieving a number of other goals

Image: Nereus Program

Today, only 5% of global food consumption comes from the oceans. This share must be increased if we are to reach our global goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty. We must use the untapped potential of the sea for food, for medicine and as an energy source.

More than ever, we depend on healthy oceans to meet our needs for more jobs, more resources, and good health.

But if we are to use the seas to improve our own health, we must first address the threats to marine health: climate change, marine litter and pollution, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and habitat and biodiversity loss. In a short time since you started reading this article, probably 100 tons of plastic will probably end up.

The oceans have an enormous capacity to regulate the climate and support biodiversity. We must act now if we want to keep it that way.

In order to move from insight to investment and then from investment to results, I have invited 11 world leaders to join the high-level panel for a sustainable ocean economy. The purpose of the panel is to build a new, shared understanding of the marine economy and ecology, and to create a set of recommendations for building a global and sustainable marine economy. Our goal is to promote science-based decision making to protect the oceans and optimize our use of them.

The panel will present a roadmap for the transition to a sustainable marine economy and will report to the UN Sea Conference next year.

The science-based integrated management will be the main theme of the sixth Ocean Ocean Conference in Oslo in October. Managing global challenges and exploiting the sea's potential will also be at the top of our agenda if Norway succeeds in its quest for the UN Security Council from 2021 to 2022.

The Law of the Sea contributes to peace and stability because it clarifies which states who have the right to exploit resources in a particular part of the sea, and it traces action because those who have rights also have obligations to protect the sea and its resources.

The SDGs highlight the enormous potential of the ocean. Achieving Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of the oceans and underwater life is crucial to achieving a number of other goals.

There is still much we do not know about the oceans, but we know enough to act. We invite other countries to join us in taking the necessary steps.

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