Closing remarks at the Ny-Ålesund Symposium

Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide holds his closing remarks at the Ny-Ålesund Symposium.

We have had a broad disciplinary approach to Arctic issues over the last few days here at the Ny-Ålesund Symposium, including views from scientists, the business community and governments.

We have seen in our own eyes the alarming pace of climate change. There is uncertainty as to the speed of climate change. But we know for sure that the melting of ice is happening more rapidly than we have anticipated.

Climate change in the Arctic is first and foremost a global problem that needs global solutions through mitigation of global emissions. But regional emissions of short lived climate forcers, like black carbon and methane, could and should be addressed regionally here in the Arctic.

We also need to link the world’s increased demand for energy to climate change solutions. Energy is for all, but it needs to be climate friendly. Renewable energy has to be part of the future global energy mix. Nordic and European energy cooperation is needed. When we speak about Arctic energy we must remember that there are different Arctics. (The conditions in the Barents Sea are very different from the conditions offshore Greenland).

There are new business opportunities emerging in the Arctic. There are several initiatives for including the business community in the discussions of the future of the Arctic. I see this as crucial to tackle the challenges at hand and to seize the opportunities.

We will see the North East Passage emerge as a new shipping lane and as a supplement to the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca. Destination traffic will dominate in Arctic waters, but we will also see an increase in transits. Sometimes foresight is needed. Robust search and rescue response as well a new Polar Code that regulates shipping in the Arctic, are keys to prepare for increased maritime activity. Another emerging industry in the Arctic is mining that we have to discuss in further details at our next discussions.

We need to respect traditional ways of life and build on traditional knowledge. In the same way as there are different Arctics when speaking of energy development, there is not one group of indigenous peoples living in the Arctic. There are many different ones. We have to be mindful of this.

Dilemmas relating to different use of land have to be addressed.

Then finally to the geopolitics of a changing Arctic: Yes, there are certainly risks involved that can go wrong. But security policy is all about how to avoid it.

To conclude: We have a common goal in respecting the rules of the Arctic based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It gives us all a better life.

 

 

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