As a small nation, Norway strongly supports multilateralism

Update: 08:18 | 24/11/2019
Norway is a strong supporter of an effective United Nations (UN) and a rule based international order. As a small nation, this is Norway’s best protection.
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On the occasion of the 48th anniversary of Norway-Vietnam diplomatic relations (25/11/1971-25/11/2019), I want to emphasize that recently, there have been significant achievements in Norway-Vietnam diplomatic ties and economic cooperation with a hallmark visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Norway in May. The traditional relationship based on development cooperation between the two countries is evolving to one based on mutual partnership and joint business interests. Norway has a lot of experience, expertise and technology to share with Vietnamese partners when it comes to renewable and clean energy as well as sustainable ocean economy. Multilateralism, UN peacekeeping, women, peace and security as well as climate change and SDGs are areas where we do share common interests.

as a small nation norway strongly supports multilateralism
Norway’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Grete Løchen. (Photo: Norwegian Embassy)

An interesting first year in Vietnam

I had a very wonderful first year in Vietnam. I have a long diplomatic career in Asia, but this is the first time I have been posted in a Southeast Asian country. The experience so far is both very welcoming and professionally interesting.

The highlight in my first year, of course, is the official visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Norway in May. The visit shows the close relationship between Norway and Vietnam, and enhances our relations in many fields including both the political and business side.

In our relationship with Vietnam, we have always managed to present Norway’s profile as a country with advanced technologies and experiences within sustainable ocean economy, which includes fishery, aquaculture, marine and maritime services. We take great pride in our over 30 years of development cooperation in the fishery sector, which now presents substantial opportunities for business cooperation.

Renewable and clean energy is another area of strength of Norway. In the longrun, Vietnam must plan for replacement of coal with other more sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and LNG and develop hybrid solutions. Norwegian companies in the solar energy sector area are ready to invest in Vietnam. We hope to see some actions in the months to come. In addition, offshore wind and LNG with floating solutions are potential areas for future Norwegian investment.

Since the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s visit to Norway, over 20 Norwegian prominent companies and organisations have visited Vietnam to show interest and look for local partners in the marine farming, renewable and LNG sectors. In these areas, Norway has a lot to offer, not only technologies and equipment, but also success stories and practical lessons learned which are a positive input to Vietnam’s ambitions to develop a sustainable blue economy.

We have high hopes and great ambitions! However, there are always challenges. I would like to see our visions and plans turning into reality. The most important thing is that we “walk the talk” and that the two Governments work hard together to realize these potentials.

Great cooperation in sustainable blue economy

Sustainable blue economy has been and will continue to be an area of strong bilateral cooperation. This is a priority for Norway and Vietnam. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his Norwegian counterpart Erna Solberg have met on the sideline of several international events. In those meetings they have highlighted the importance of sustainable blue ocean economy including protection of ocean resources and marine litters.

as a small nation norway strongly supports multilateralism
Ambassador Grete Løchen and UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen met with Deputy Minister of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Quy Kien. (Photo: Norwegian Embassy)

Last month, our Ocean Conference was held in Norway with the participation of 500 leaders from 100 countries. Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Tran Quy Kien. Participants representing national governments, private sector, youth, civil society, and research institutes discussed measures to protect our oceans and make them clean, healthy and productive. The Conference concluded successfully with many new commitments with regard to both funding and active measures.

The Conference also discussed issues such as marine littering and the importance of good waste management systems. Plastic pollution of the ocean has become a global issue and most of it comes from land-based sources. Norway and Vietnam are both coastal and ocean countries and our economies depend on ocean resources. Therefore, in addition to sustainable exploitation of our natural resources, we need to protect the ocean. We must take actions now; otherwise there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Next year, Norway will be supporting Vietnam in hosting an International Conference on Sustainable Ocean Economy and Climate Adaptation.

Norway is currently implementing several projects in Vietnam and in the region relating to classification and effective treatment of plastic wastes. One of them is OPTOCE (Ocean Plastic turned into an Opportunity in Circular Economy) launched in Vietnam in October. I am very happy to see this Project highlights the engagement of the private sector in fighting plastic wastes, and also showcases non-recyclable plastic wastes can be used as a source of energy for the cement industry. It helps us to tackle the problem of plastic wastes and prevent them from being dumped into the ocean. At the same time, it reduces CO2 emissions and the coal consumption. I hope this Project will inspire other companies and plants in the cement industry to use non-recyclable plastic as an energy source.

At our Embassy, we also apply a code of conduct on plastic reduction. The easiest thing to do is to raise awareness at the household level, within communities, at school and the workplace. In addition, the engagement of the private sector is crucial for the success of effective management of plastic wastes. Government, private sector, researchers and the entire society must work together in order to succeed. Everyone has an important role to play.

2020 - An exciting year

Norway and Vietnam share common interest in promoting multilateralism and a rule-based international order. The present global situation is unpredictable and multilateralism is under pressure. Threatened by more nationalist and protectionist policies. A strong and well-functioning UN as well as regional organisations such as ASEAN are both in our interest.

I would like to congratulate Vietnam on assuming the role of ASEAN Chair in 2020 and being selected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council 2020-2021. We do see a great potential for increased cooperation with Vietnam at the regional and global level. In 2020, Norway will also commemorate our 5th anniversary of sectoral dialogue partnership with ASEAN. Norway is also running candidacy for the UN Security Council 2021-2022. If selected, Vietnam and Norway will have one year working together in the Security Council.

On this occasion, I would like to warmly thank all friends and partners of Norway in Vietnam for their cooperation and support. I very much look forward to cooperation with Vietnam and our partners in 2020 and further beyond.

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Grete Løchen

(TGVN)