Ladies and gentlemen,
Carl, let me start by thanking Sweden for its chairmanship and congratulate you on the results of another successful two years of Arctic cooperation, which ends six years of Nordic chairmanship.
In this period we have agreed on a binding search and rescue agreement. And today we sign the new instrument on Arctic marine oil pollution preparedness and response. Through this agreement we will improve our ability to cooperate on the response to any oil spills in the Arctic Ocean. It demonstrates how we, the Arctic states, are shouldering our responsibility.
We have also succeeded in strengthening the Arctic Council by establishing a permanent secretariat in Tromsø.
I would also like to welcome Canada’s next chairmanship under the able leadership of Leona.
The great interest that that non-Arctic states are taking in the coming observership is a tribute to the good work we have done together. I think it is very important to welcome the new observers. First to appreciate their interest to working with us on the basis of the principles that we have agreed to, which include respecting the environment, the inclusion of all the permanent representatives and participants, the need to judge the intersession between livelihoods - old and new, between resource management and environmental concerns; and also as a reminder to the new observers that there is no such thing as a free lunch. By becoming an observer you also sign up to the principles embodied in this organisation, and to work with us to make that happen.
The principle that every single state neighbouring and bordering the Arctic Ocean agrees on the principle the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is important for us. But it is also an important signal to the rest of the world.
I would also like to underline that we have on our table a number of quite important documents about the environment and climate development in our region. I would particularly draw the attention to the documentation that we have provided on Arctic Ocean acidification, on the challenging Arctic biodiversity and on the damage that short-lived climate forcers (like black carbon and methane) can do to the environment.
The message here is that we cannot any longer just say that global warming is a global phenomenon. It happens here. On top of that there are things we can do – and actually have to do - here in this region in order to reduce the danger of the environment.
For that reason, I very much welcome the focus that Leona and Canada are coming into the chairmanship with, namely reaching the opportunities but also taking due consideration of the environment and the livelihoods.
As I said it is very important for this organisation that we have the permanent participation of indigenous people and that they are with us at the table. And with the tradition of Norwegian participation at these meetings, I now hand over the last remaining minutes to the President of the Sami Parliament, Mr Egil Olli.