Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, the largest said fund in the world, made a statement that they would commit to cleaning up the oceans or at least attempt to. They have a stake in roughly 9,000 companies and are convinced that their as well as all companies should do more to protect the world’s oceans.
Additionally, the Norwegian government itself has announced and committed themselves to contributing with 200 million US dollars to this concentrated effort. Over the next four years, they have pledged to allocate those funds to combat the overwhelming scope of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
Naturally, the question might arise inquiring on why this concentrated effort matters. The commitment that was proclaimed at the Global Citizen Festival in New York in early October represents “a significant ramp-up o efforts to prevent economic growth from irreparably harming sea life”. This essentially means that Norway leads to way in showing that economic growth is not the only thing that matters. We cannot allow biospheres like the oceans to be devastated over essentially profits for certain conglomerates and individuals.
Furthermore, this gained momentum will most likely also lead to a second important pillar in restoring sea life, or at least limiting harm to it: the determination of more ocean regions to be set aside for conservation. This essentially means that those regions would not be open for commercial fishing or other commercial exploitations.
Now, the next question that arises is what the motivational background for Norway might be to embody such a strong stance. Firstly, it is a sad but accepted fact that the world’s oceans become increasingly cluttered with waste from items like plastic straws and water bottles, in addition to fishing nets that have been torn apart through usage and were dumped in the ocean. Secondly, we know that most plastic that is produced ends up in landfills or finds its way into the oceans, as only a fraction of the plastic is being recycled. Roughly 4.9 billion tons of plastic have been produced since 1950 and this production is estimated to double in the next 20 to 25 years, leaving us with essentially 10 billion tons of plastic that we must get rid of.
As Norway is a major oil producer, having a rather sophisticated offshore oil production in addition to major stakes in the fishing industries, they feel the urge to step up to the task, as their livelihoods, and a large chunk of their GDP might be dependent on it. In this sense, the Norwegian government views the ocean’s health and upkeep as a strategic national priority.
In conclusion, not only Norway should be concerned about these shocking developments. Although an estimated two-thirds of Norway’s GDP are generated through ocean-related activities, the upkeep of the ocean as a source of economic development and a source of food should be a concern for every nation. This especially in Asia and Africa where population is estimated to surge in the upcoming decades and the only way to sustain such a population growth is through the support of healthy oceans that we can rely upon.