His Majesty The King concluded his official visit to the US in Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday. The programme of activities highlighted the Arctic region and Norwegian-US cooperation in the Northern Areas.
The day began with a conference under the auspices of INTSOK – Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners. Norway is an international leader in petroleum technology for Arctic conditions, and Norwegian companies may be valuable partners for their counterparts in Alaska, a point that the King emphasised in his opening remarks to the roughly 150 participants:
“I am confident that Norwegian companies will make worthwhile and responsible partners for Alaska’s oil industry, and can thus make important contributions to Alaska’s economic growth. Both due to their technology and expertise, and to their high standards for sustainability and environmental protection.”
At the Anchorage Museum, King Harald viewed the exhibition entitled “Polar Night: Life and Light in the Dead of Night”, and he was given a guided tour of the museum’s Arctic collection.
The polar night occurs when the night lasts longer than 24 hours. This only happens within the polar circles, and is the opposite phenomenon of the midnight sun. The exhibition debunks the myth that the Arctic ecosystem sleeps through the long night. On the contrary, the Arctic winter teems with life, which Norwegian researchers showed through their studies of the undersea ecosystem by Svalbard.
The exhibition was developed in cooperation with Tromsø University Museum.
Looking North Together
The King opened his second conference of the day when he spoke at the Northern Areas conference entitled “Looking North Together: The US and Norway in the Quest for Arctic Knowledge”. The King emphasised the importance of acquiring as much knowledge as possible about this region:
“Knowledge must be our guiding light as we seek to address our shared challenges. Unless we increase our knowledge, we will never deepen our understanding of the complexity of the region.
Roald Amundsen once said that ‘Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.
To the experts who will speak after me at this lunch – and at the roundtable discussion after lunch – I would like to say: Take Amundsen’s advice seriously. Let no stone be left unturned as you seek to increase our understanding about the Arctic.”
During the luncheon that followed, King Harald had the opportunity to hear several presentations on exploration and climate research in the Arctic region.
In the afternoon, King Harald paid a visit to the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he received an introduction to the university’s collaborative activities with Norwegian institutions. The King was witness to the further strengthening of research cooperation as representatives of the University of Alaska Anchorage and UiT The Arctic University of Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the north.
King Harald also had the chance to speak with groups of university students before it was time to meet the press and conduct the final visit of the programme.
Concluded at Sons of Norway
Sons of Norway is the world’s largest association for North Americans with Norwegian heritage. Established by Norwegians in 1895 to assist Norwegian immigrants, the association today has several hundred lodges that work to preserve Norwegian cultural heritage among Americans – and Canadians – of Norwegian descent.
Sons of Norway is also represented in Anchorage, Alaska. The local lodge is named after the Norwegian-American Bernt Balchen, a pioneer polar aviator. King Harald concluded his official visit to Washington State and Alaska with a visit to the lodge.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.
World Heritage at Vega
In 2004, UNESCO inscribed the Vega Archipelago on the World Heritage List. Today His Royal Highness The Crown Prince was in attendance to open the new Vega Archipelago World Heritage Centre – Norway’s first authorised centre of its kind.