Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Tuesday called for sustainable development of the Blue Economy as more and more people in the world are depending on the oceans for development and prosperity.
“As the world’s population continues to grow, more and more people will depend on the oceans for development and prosperity,” Solberg said while delivering the inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship annual geopolitical and geostrategic conference.
“By the middle of this century, the world’s population is expected to increase to 10 billion people,” she said.
“This means that we must look at the oceans in order to share sufficient food, jobs, energy and economic growth.”
Organised by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) think tank, the theme of this year’s Raisina Dialogue is “A World Reorder: New Geometries; Fluid Partnerships; Uncertain Outcomes”.
Calling for ocean resources to be extracted and used sustainably, Solberg said everybody has a stake in building a sustainable Blue Economy.
“If we are to build a sustainable ocean economy, we must stop degradation of Green Economy,” she said.
Appreciating the ambitious steps taken by India to develop its Blue Economy, the Norwegian Prime Minister expressed her happiness on the agreement on India-Norway Ocean Dialogue that was signed earlier in the day after she held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Solberg also called for a rules-based international order saying that this has served Norway in a good way.
Stating that Norway respects India for following international rules, she said: “When a big country like India follows international rules, a small country like Norway takes notice.”
The Norwegian Prime Minister stressed the importance of the Arctic and said that this is a region of common interest to all countries.
Describing the Arctic environment as very important, she said all countries should work together as “no country can acquire the knowledge that is needed alone”.
“Rising Arctic temperature is leading to melting of snow in the Himalayas and affecting the Indian monsoon,” she said.
She expressed hope that India, which now has observer status, will play a stronger role in the Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the region.
Talking about global trade, Solberg said that this has increased prosperity and reduced extreme poverty by half.
However, at the same time, she said that many people feel left out by globalisation.
“We must secure the future welfare of a rapidly growing global population,” she said. “We cannot allow protectionism to define our future.”
She stressed the importance of rules-based international trade since the consequences of inequality affect everybody.
In terms of global security, the Norwegian Prime Minister said the rise in violent extremism and international terrorism “affect us all”.
“Security is closely linked with sustainable development,” she said, adding everybody should unitedly fight corruption since it creates inequality and leads to violence.
Solberg, who is is an ardent advocate of women’s empowerment, called for increased women’s rights and participation in the work place.
She referred to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in 2015.
“These SDGs show that we all are developing nations till we have reached these goals,” she said.
Stating that India is playing an important role in achieving these SDGs, she voiced her appreciation for Modi’s role in this.
“Don’t believe in short-term policies but think long-term,” Solberg said.
Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj were among a host of dignitaries who attended the inaugural session of this year’s Raisina Dialogue.
Over 600 delegates from 93 countries, including influential political leaders, strategic thinkers, policy practitioners, technology innovators, business representatives and academics are attending this fourth edition of the Dialogue.