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Seminar on the Antarctic

Speech given by His Majesty The King at the opening of a seminar on the Antarctic during Their Majesties' state visit to Chile 26-31 March 2019.

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen, 

The Queen and I have been looking forward to visiting Punta Arenas during our state visit to Chile. As a polar enthusiast and a sailor at heart, I must admit that this spectacular view of the Magellan Strait is quite impressive.

Despite the fact that Chile and Norway are located on opposite sides of the globe, we still have a lot in common. We both have a long history as Antarctic nations, and we were both original signatories to the Antarctic Treaty.

Our relationship with the continent reflects our countries’ keen interest in discovery and exploration. Both our countries also have a strong political engagement – to ensure sustainable and peaceful management of Antarctica and its surrounding seas through international cooperation.

As maritime nations with long coastlines, we also share a close relationship with the oceans. We depend on the seas and share a common understanding of the importance of sustainable management of maritime resources. We know that the oceans are essential for all life on earth.

It was here that the first Norwegians arrived in Chile for whaling and fishing activities. In 1894, Adolf Andresen sailed from the little town of Sandefjord to Punta Arenas and became a pioneer in the Chilean whaling industry. Over the years, he established a centre for his operations on Deception Island in the western Antarctic.

Like many other whalers, Andresen did not come alone. His wife, Betsie Mary, joined him. I understand that she was the first woman to settle in Antarctica. In addition, she ensured that Andresen’s whaling station was quite unlike any of the others, and much more pleasant. Their two pets – a parrot and an Angora cat – also joined them there.

I know, from my own experience, that it does indeed make a positive difference to team up with women in one’s work. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee for the benefits of working with Andresen’s two latter companions.

Other Norwegians came to Punta Arenas too. This was the springboard of the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen’s international career. At the time, he was a young and unknown ship’s officer, taking part in the groundbreaking Belgica expedition. 

Since then, relations between Chile and Norway have expanded into many fields.

The oceans, fisheries and sustainable resource management are still at the heart of our relationship. Our cooperation in Antarctica is more important than ever.

The growing population of our planet will need more food, minerals, energy and medicines. The oceans could hold the answer to many of these challenges if we manage them sustainably.

Global warming and climate change are among the biggest challenges of our times.  The effects of global warming are appearing faster, and are more visible, in the Arctic and Antarctica than in the rest of the world. The polar regions also provide unique perspectives on climate change. Research in Antarctica can give us valuable insight into, and understanding of, the impacts of global warming.

Our two countries work together to promote sustainable management of the marine resources and ecosystems in Antarctica:

Earlier this year, the Norwegian research vessel Kronprins Haakon made Punta Arenas its starting point for a multinational krill survey in the Southern Ocean. Several Chilean researchers took part in this expedition. This joint scientific effort will enable our governments to promote sustainable management and effective protection of the marine ecosystems in this part of Antarctica.

In Antarctic waters, marine protected areas can be important tools for protecting the ecosystems and ensuring the sustainable management of marine resources. Norway is a strong supporter of the process led by Chile – together with Argentina – to develop a marine protected area near the Antarctic peninsula. I am particularly pleased about the close cooperation between Norwegian and Chilean scientists on this project.

Today, tourists are coming to Punta Arenas too. It is a port of call for Hurtigruten’s cruises to Antarctica, Patagonia and the Chilean fjords. This means that people who aren’t researchers can also experience the immense beauty of this part of the world and learn more about its vulnerability.

Hurtigruten’s latest addition to its fleet is MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first cruise ship to be powered by environmentally sustainable hybrid technology. It is also the world’s first “ship of graphic art”, displaying in total 487 works of art – curated by the foundation Queen Sonja Print Award, initiated and led by my wife.    

Ladies and gentlemen,

Antarctica is a unique place on Earth; it is the cleanest and most pristine part of our planet. Both the Queen and I have previously had the pleasure of visiting Dronning Maud Land and the Norwegian research station Troll. We were very impressed by the important research being carried out here. 

Norway and Chile enjoy close cooperation and have more than 100 years of shared history on this continent. As active parties in the Antarctic Treaty system, we share a common interest in, and a common responsibility for, ensuring that Antarctica remains a continent devoted to peace and science, today and for future generations.

I wish you a successful seminar!



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