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Virtual visit to California

With the help of new technology, a Norwegian delegation headed by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon conducted an official visit to California. The virtual visit continued today, with a conversation with Nancy Pelosi at the top of the agenda.


California plays a leading role in the development of climate change mitigation measures and green technology, and the purpose of the official visit is to strengthen cooperation on green solutions and sustainable value creation.

This is Norway’s first major virtual visit abroad in which it has been possible for many people to follow along on a digital platform. The Norwegian participants were gathered in a studio in Oslo, and the US participants were in a studio in San Francisco. But for those following the conference on their screens, it looked as though the participants were all in the same room together.

A virtual meeting in San Francisco: Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Crown Prince Haakon and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide. Screen shot from broadcast.

Cooperation to combat climate change 

The virtual visit started on Tuesday. After an initial welcome message from the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, and a greeting from Norway’s Ambassador to the US, Anniken Krutnes, the first panel discussion of the visit took place.

Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis invited Crown Prince Haakon and Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide to a discussion on how Norway and California can work together to combat climate change. California has first-hand insight into the impacts of climate change from, among other things, the major forest fires it has experienced in recent years, and the state is in the forefront in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Norway has acquired wide-ranging expertise in renewable energy, zero-emission transport and the exploitation of offshore wind power, and the three participants discussed their experience with the development and application of green technology.

The participants took part from their respective sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: The Royal Court

The panel also exchanged views on the role of young people and education in the effort to combat climate change and other global challenges. International cooperation and exchange of researchers and students leads to the exchange of ideas and knowledge, which in turn drives innovation.

Students at UC Berkeley

The virtual visit then moved to the Crown Prince’s alma mater, University of California, Berkeley, which has close collaboration with a number of Norwegian educational institutions.

In this segment, Crown Prince Haakon met three students, Madeleine Wong, Chloe Olsen and Norwegian Peter F. Grinde-Hollevik. They exchanged views on life as a student in Berkeley and discussed how sustainability and climate change issues affect young people’s choice of education and occupation.  

Crown Prince Haakon met with three students “on campus” in Berkeley. Screen shot from Norway Events.

There is a wide range of relevant study topics for young people seeking to work towards a more sustainable future. Along with Stanford University, UC Berkley plays a key role in technological development in California, and in finding innovative solutions for tomorrow’s society.   

Concluded at Stanford

Together with Håkon Haugli, CEO of Innovation Norway, Crown Prince Haakon met Professor Tina Selig. Dr Seelig is well known for her books on creativity and innovation, and is a faculty member at Stanford University.

How can technology help to solve the major challenges the world is facing? Dr Seelig pointed to the ongoing pandemic as a prime example both of how a problem is shared by the entire world, and of how technology – in the form of vaccines – provides a critical part of the solution. In much the same way, education and technology are a key part of the solution to the climate crisis.

Crown Prince Haakon, CEO of Innovation Norway Håkon Haugli and Dr Tina Seelig. Screen shot from broadcast.

Dr Seelig also spoke about her “Tools of Innovation” concept, where knowledge, imagination and approach comprise the fundamental components for developing good ideas for the future. According to the professor, everyone has what it takes to be innovative, but the process is greatly influenced by the resources, culture and environment that surround us. Young people today are very focused on solving the climate crisis. What conditions need to be in place to create a framework for the innovation needed?

Crown Prince Haakon and Håkon Haugli sum up the first day of the virtual visit. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

Meeting with Nancy Pelosi

On Wednesday, the programme started with a meeting between Crown Prince Haakon, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi. Ms Pelosi represents California in the House, and has shown an unwavering commitment to transatlantic cooperation.

The Crown Prince began by expressing his sympathy for the many US lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he was inspired by the effort to achieve the rapid vaccine rollout that is underway, pointing to the impressive manner in which research communities, governments and the private sector have pulled together to make it happen.

According to Ms Pelosi, cooperation between the public and private sectors is also critical in the transition to a green economy. The creation of green jobs, based on research and public-private partnerships will be essential

Nancy Pelosi talks with Crown Prince Haakon and Ine Eriksen Søreide. Photo: Screen shot from broadcast.

The talks touched on a number of issues of importance to both Norway and California, where both may benefit from expanded cooperation. Areas of interest include zero-emission vehicles, ferries and sea transport, offshore wind power and other forms of renewable energy.

A number of seminars were held over the course of the evening to further promote knowledge-sharing and future cooperation.


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