Photo: Johan Wildhagen - Johan Wildhagen -

Successful Arctic Seminar in London

The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Børge Brende gave the key-note speech at the seminar “The Thawing Arctic: Climate Change, Resources and Sea Routes” on 28th November at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

The event, which was chaired by Ambassador Kim Traavik, focused on Norwegian and British perspectives on the developments in the Arctic and gathered around 80 participants from politics, civil service, academia and private sector.

Foreign Minister Brende discussed the major opportunities but also responsibilities that follow from the developments in the Arctic. Brende pointed out that the Arctic is not a homogenous region. There are great differences across the region on climate, economy and living conditions. For Norway, the developments in the Arctic are of high importance for many reasons. One third of Norwegian land area and 80% of sea areas are north of the Arctic Circle. The Arctic is also home to 10% of Norway’s population. “The goal is to seize the opportunities while at the same time ensuring a sustainable management of the nature and resources in the Arctic” said Mr Brende.

Both Minister Brende and the next speaker, Sir David King, Special Representative for Climate Change for the British Government, emphasized the long history of cooperation between British and Norwegian Polar explorers and scientists, both in the Arctic as well as in Antarctica. King also referred to the Arctic framework document recently put forward by the British Government and noted that there is a high degree of consensus between UK and Norway on the Arctic.

Minister Brende and Sir King also argued for the importance of continued research and science in developing future solutions for the Arctic. Following their speeches, Director Jan Gunnar Winther from the Norwegian Polar Institute and Director Jane Francis from the British Antarctic Survey presented the scientific results from research into the different aspects of the rapid changes in the polar regions due to global warming. They also looked into the potential impact this will have on the UK and the rest of the world.

From the energy sector Mr Tim Dodson from Statoil and Mr Dev Sanyal from BP put forward the oil and gas industry’s view on the changing global energy landscape and the prospects for Arctic oil and gas. Both discussed the challenges the oil and gas industry faces in the Arctic and the importance of international cooperation also within the industry in regard to safety precautions when operating in harsh environments.

The seminar concluded with Mr Sturla Henriksen, Director General of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and Dr Robin Niblett, Director of Chatham House discussing the international implications of the opening up of Arctic sea routes in the High North.

This was the third annual seminar organized by the Norwegian Embassy at the Royal Geographical Society.

The speech by Foreign Minister Børge Brende can be read in full here.

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