National Maritime Conference 2021
Meine Damen und Herren - vom Oslo Fjord: Grüsse nach Rostock!
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am speaking to you from the inner Oslo Fjord, just some 20 minutes by boat from the City Hall. We are standing along a very old sea route between Oslo and ports all over the globe. Since the time of the Vikings, the fjords have been the Norwegian people’s gateway to the world – including to Europe and Germany.
My own family has strong ties to the sea: My great-grandfather, King Haakon, was a naval officer - like myself. My grandfather and my father have both been keen sailors. My wife, my kids and I love spending time in the water. The ocean gives me a feeling of joy, purpose and a deep sense of connection.
75 % of our blue planet is covered by water. The oceans link us together and give us the basis for life. They give us beauty and extraordinary experiences, and are an essential part of human history and our common future. Humankind has always benefited from the immense potential of the oceans to provide a living, and our seas have been a driving force behind development.
The world is depending on the oceans. But unfortunately, the health of the oceans is declining. This is becoming ever more evident as the seas grow warmer, more polluted, less predictable – and less resilient.
These changes will make it harder for future generations to harvest the riches of the oceans in the same way that we and our forefathers have done. An increasing world population will need more jobs, food, medicine, minerals, and energy from the oceans.
We must therefore take urgent action to make sure that the seas comes back into balance.
As individuals, in local communities, at the country level and globally – we all need to change the way we relate to the oceans.
One very basic example of how we can help to stop polluting our oceans, is by reducing the enormous amount of plastic that ends up being carried out to sea. I know that Germany and Norway are working together to promote a coordinated global response to the threat posed by marine litter and plastic pollution.
Healthy oceans and a sustainable ocean economy play a vital role in achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals. With this in mind, Norway and the other partners in the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy have launched a global action plan. It shows that it’s fully possible to combine a prospering ocean economy with a healthy marine environment.
The ocean industries will be crucial to our success. You – in the business – have been through several waves of transformation. At present you are facing the biggest and most important transition ever: adapting to a zero-emission future.
As ocean industries venture into new sectors such as offshore wind, green shipping, hydrogen production, and carbon capture and storage, it is essential to draw on your cumulative expertise and knowledge. Those who manage to come up with the most innovative solutions are likely to be the winners in future markets.
Germany and Norway are leading maritime nations with a great deal to offer, and a long history of maritime cooperation on which to build. Back in the Middle Ages, German and Norwegian cities such as Rostock and Bergen were part of the Hanseatic League. They traded in salt and stockfish that were sold on the world market. And they still are.
Today, there is close cooperation between the Ocean Technology Campus in Rostock and the Ocean Tech Cluster in Bergen. They are working together to develop world-class maritime technology. This is Hanseatic collaboration recast in a new form!
The interaction between business, government and the research community has been constructive and rewarding.
Take for example alternative fuels: In Norway, we are in the process of developing new low-emission solutions for ships based on the use of hydrogen power and battery technology. There are now several such vessels operating in Norwegian waters, reducing our CO2 emissions by thousands of tons every year.
Further out in the Oslo Fjord, between the cities of Moss and Horten, Norway’s most widely used ferry service is being electrified. The ferries will be equipped with top-notch batteries from Siemens.
The submarine agreement recently concluded between Norway and Germany sets the framework for cooperation that extends far beyond the defence sector.
These are only a few of the steps that we have taken. Over the years, German and Norwegian ocean industries have established wide-ranging cooperation. I see huge potential for expanding this further. I also see a role for us in showing other countries the path towards a sustainable ocean economy.
So, from the Oslo Fjord – I wish you all an interesting and successful conference – and:
Frau Bundeskanzlerin, liebe Angela Merkel, im Namen von Norwegen – danke, dass Sie im Sturm der letzten Jahre den Kurs gehalten haben.