19 June 2018

Opening remarks at press encounter with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway

António Guterres

Thank you very much Prime Minister.

It’s always a pleasure to come to Norway. Norway is a strong pillar of multilateralism and a strong defender of the rules-based international order.

I want to express my deep gratitude for the Prime Minister for her leadership, leading our Sustainable Development Goals Advocates and pushing for the international community to fully assume its responsibilities in regards to the Agenda 2030, to a fair globalization, but also the very important leadership in relation to the protection of the oceans.

Our oceans are a mess and in the battle for the protection of the oceans we are losing on all fronts. I was very touched to see the children that we just met, so determined to fight the invasion of plastic in the oceans. Every year 8 million tonnes of plastics are thrown into the oceans. There is in the Pacific a large area of concentration of plastics that today is bigger than France. Every minute one million plastic bottles are sold in the world.

It is very important that we all assume this as a collective responsibility and it is wonderful to see that in Norway the children themselves are assuming the responsibility of getting the oceans rid of plastic.

Plastic that especially when divided into very small pieces goes into feeding the fish and then into our own body. Ninety per cent of the water in bottles today have plastic inside it, and in taps around the world 83 per cent of the water has plastic inside it. We see that we have a serious public health problem. But it’s not only in relation to plastics. We see overfishing. We see the climate change impacts with acidification that disrupts the food chain, in warming the temperature of the water causing the bleaching of corals and worse, making storms more intense, more devastating, with more dramatic humanitarian consequences.

It is absolutely crucial that we assume collective responsibility in the world for our oceans and to make sure that our oceans remain a very important resource to the benefit of humankind and that we can use it economically also. It’s very important for development.

On the other hand I want to express my deep appreciation for what has been the very strong commitment of Norway in relation to peace and security. Mediation has been something that Norway not only has supported but has effectively practiced in different parts of the world: the Oslo accords, your action in Sri Lanka, Colombia recently, Norway has always been on the frontlines of mediation and seeking peace for our world, but also with one of the most progressive policies in the world on humanitarian aid, development cooperation an absolutely crucial partner for our efforts in all these aspects. To come to Norway is also to pay tribute to this very generous commitment to the global interests that the United Nations defends.