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Norwegian Ambassador Ovind Addresses the CNS

The second in the Canadian Nordic Society Distinguished Speaker Series 2016-17 season featured the Norwegian Ambassador to Canada, Anne Kari Ovind, speaking on the topic “Opportunities and Challenges in the High Arctic - A Norwegian Perspective.” Her Excellency brings not only distinguished diplomatic credentials to her relatively new position in Canada (appointed in January 2016), but also a significant academic background, with three Masters degrees as well as having completed studies at the National Defence College. She also worked extensively as Norway’s representative to the Arctic Council for several years. She remarked on how, cooperatively, Canada and Norway enjoyed such positive relations, and shared common perspectives on natural resources and sustainable development.

The audience was given a comprehensive appreciation of the current and future value of the Arctic along with concerns related to the impact of climate change. It is scientifically predicted that the Arctic Ocean may melt by 2050, thereby no longer creating a frozen barrier to bordering nations, but rather uniting them through increased shipping routes and exploration. Given Norway’s proximity to the Arctic and that 80% of its maritime territory is located in the Arctic Circle, it is no wonder that it has become one of Norway’s foreign policy priorities. The Arctic affords significant opportunities in terms of resources, new and faster sea routes, investment and infrastructure, and economic growth and employment. However, it was also pointed out that major opportunities also bring major responsibilities, such as safeguarding the development process and defining collaborative relations and mutually beneficial policies. Norway’s objectives are: #1 safeguard peace and stability and provide predictability; #2 ensure an integrated ecosystem-based management regime that safeguards biodiversity for sustainable use of resources; #3 strengthen international cooperation and international legal order (The Law of the Sea); #4 strengthen the basis for employment, value creation and welfare.

Ambassador Ovind shared with the audience her experiences while traveling with other dignitaries to Canada’s northern territory earlier this year. Her enthusiasm and commitment to environmental stewardship and safeguarding the region for future generations, is inspiring. Finally, she welcomed questions from the audience and made a point of reassuring the members that the Norwegian thriller ‘Occupied’ is only an exciting fiction series made to entertain. She also suggested that while we wait for Season 2 of ‘Occupied’, another Netflix series worth watching is ‘The Heavy Water War’ (and she was right, it was hard to take a break between the episodes). Following her speech, Ambassador Ovind stayed on and mingled with the members. She is as sociable as she is highly qualified for her role as Norway’s’ Ambassador. Ambassador Ovind lis

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