It is only 12 years until 2030, the deadline for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The world has set itself an ambitious task. To reach the SDGs we will have to produce more from the oceans. We need the oceans to provide more food, more jobs and more energy. And we must maintain its capacity to regulate the climate and support biodiversity.

These are all reasons to manage the oceans better. To build a sustainable ocean economy, we must stop the degradation of the world’s marine ecosystems and improve the environmental status of the oceans. This will require action from all of us.

The oceans run like a ‘blue thread’ throughout Norwegian history. Sustainable use of the oceans has laid the foundation for Norway’s prosperity and the welfare of our population. Our ocean industries account for more than 70% of Norway's exports.

We firmly believe that the oceans hold the key to solving many of the most challenging tasks facing the world today. Eradicating hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. Fighting disease and pandemics. Combating climate change. Creating jobs in both developed and developing countries. Ensuring affordable and clean energy for all. Even securing peace and stability.

The Norwegian Government has launched an ambitious ocean strategy that includes both national and global elements. It involves green technology, digitalization, innovative uses of marine resources, international diplomacy, and the fight against illegal fishing and plastic pollution. Research and knowledge are crucial factors.

The success of this strategy will depend on whether we can continue to combine the knowledge we have built up over the years with innovation and research. We have done it before. When Norway first discovered oil in the North Sea in 1969, we knew very little about the petroleum industry. But thanks to centuries of contact with the oceans and experience of shipping, shipbuilding and managing natural resources, we learned how to produce oil and gas in a prudent manner.

And thanks, not least, to expertise and technology developed in the North Sea, Norwegian shipyards have already built the world's first gas-powered and all-electric ferries and the first electric fishing vessels.

Our most experienced oil and gas companies are at the forefront of efforts to develop emission-reducing technology. They are creating jobs while at the same time solving global problems. In addition, carbon emissions from their traditional business of oil and gas production are being cut to levels that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

Our experience is that following green policies does not lead companies into red figures.

Norway has been pursuing integrated, ecosystem-based management of its sea areas for many years. This science-based approach safeguards biodiversity and ensures sustainable use of resources.

We have shown that it is fully possible to combine ocean-based industries such as fisheries, aquaculture, shipping and energy production with a healthy marine environment.

In the Barents Sea, science-based management and close fisheries cooperation between Russia and Norway have been a resounding success. Today, the cod stock in the Barents Sea is the world’s largest and most valuable.

Norwegian exports of seafood are increasing year by year. They include seafood from innovative fish farms that did not exist 40 years ago, as well as seafood from traditional fisheries – and both are produced sustainably.