Bergen in front as part of Norway's international leadership role in ocean management

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has established an international high-level panel for a sustainable ocean economy. The University of Bergen looks forward to being part of this marine effort and contribute with scientific advice.

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The international high-level panel will be chaired by Prime Minister Erna Solberg and is made up of heads of state and government from a broad range of coastal states, including developing countries.

“‘The oceans have huge potential when it comes to meeting the world’s need for resources and creating jobs and economic and social development. We will not be able to realise this potential without sustainable growth in ocean-based industries,” said Ms Solberg at a press conference on 25 January in Davos during the World Economic Forum, where she presented the plan alongside Isabella Lövin, Dominic Kailash, Nath Waughray, Peter Thomson and Marc R. Benioff.

Norway's international leadership role in ocean management

World Economic Forum

A demand for ocean resources

The growing global population means that the world needs more resources and services from the oceans, such as food, energy, medicines, minerals, and transport. 

Solberg wants Norway to contribute towards increasing international awareness of the fact that sustainable use of the oceans and the maintenance of good environmental status can lead to significant value creation, and can enable us to meet some of the world’s most vital needs in the years to come. Ocean management is also a central part of the Norwegian government's Arctic strategy.

“I want to share Norway’s experience of combining conservation and use of marine resources. Norway has considerable expertise on ocean issues, which means that we can make an important contribution in this area. Our expertise is in demand internationally,” said Solberg.

“Through this initiative, we are taking a leading role in international efforts in this field, and are making a concrete contribution to the efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Good news for research in Bergen

The message from Davos is met with delight by researchers in the marine sciences at the University of Bergen (UiB).

“It is very gratifying that the Prime Minister engages herself personally in a sustainable management of the ocean. It is easy to think of the ocean and land as isolated parts of the world, but we have one planet with one ocean and this planet must be managed sustainably. Norway has a lot to learn, but also a lot to contribute internationally, for this initiative to succeed,” said UiB's Marine Director Amund Maage.

“UiB wants to contribute to this panel for ocean management. We have a broad range of marine education and research that can support the panel with expertise, and most recently we established the interdisciplinary research centre Ocean Sustainability Bergen, to promote ocean research on the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Marine Dean Jarl Giske.

On 8-9 February, UiB hosts a national conference on the SDGs, where the university sector in Norway will meet with politicians, public servants, industry and NGOs to discuss how the sector can contribute to the goals. Professor Edvard Hviding is a member of the scientific steering committee for the conference and believes that UiB is well positioned to become scientific advisers for Prime Minister Solberg and the high-level panel.

“The centre will not only conduct research and education, but also provide scientific advice on global marine management, to both Norwegian and international authorities and organisations, not least the UN system,” said Professor Hviding.

Norway takes on responsibility

“Norway already has a reputation as a leader in this field, and we are a sought-after partner. Our efforts at international level to combat marine litter and microplastics are an important case in point. A resolution put forward by Norway was passed at the UN Environment Assembly in December, on the long-term elimination of discharge of litter and microplastics to the oceans,“ said Ms Solberg.

The panel will start its work in the first half of 2018, and will continue until 2020. A key deliverable will be a report on the importance of the ocean economy for sustainable development. The panel will work closely with the UN and will engage with other international initiatives in this field.

UiB contributing internationally

Professor Peter M. Haugan from UiB's Geophysical Institute was last year re-elected as chair for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) for a second two-year period.

Peter Haugan UN

On 23 January, at the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø Haugan, UiB's Rector Dag Rune Olsen and UiB's Vice-Rector for Global Relations, Annelin Eriksen, were in discussions with the UN General Secretary's Special Envoy to the Ocean, Peter Thomson, about how UiB can contribute towards the SDGs.

After the meeting Thomson recorded an address to be screened at the SDG Conference in Bergen on 9 February at a Special Event on SDG14, Life Below Water.