Continuing our World Leaders Forum coverage, staff writer Grace Fitzgerald-Diaz attended a Q&A with Erna Solberg, who emphasized the need for global cooperation.

At Wednesday’s World Leaders Forum event with Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, I was reminded that outside of the United States, being conservative can look very different than it does in the United States.

The event was structured as a Q&A, with the first half being led by moderator Wilmot James and the second half filled with student questions for the Prime Minister.

As with many of the other events in the World Leaders Forum, alongside other topics, there were numerous questions about COVID-19 and climate change. But even as she was asked questions covering a range of subjects, Ms. Solberg repeatedly stressed the importance of international cooperation in solving problems that affect the entire world.  

Ms. Solberg focused on the issue of global cooperation not only in terms of the current pandemic but also other global health issues. She noted that given the increasingly interconnected nature of our world, diseases can move quickly—as we have seen this year—and that we will be worse off if countries do not work together. 

Ms. Solberg isn’t just talking big: Norway is the co-chair of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, which is a group of countries, organizations, and individuals committed to providing the necessary tools to end the pandemic, including tests, treatments, and vaccines, in a rapid and equitable manner. Ms. Solberg stressed the importance of equity, saying, “We have to make sure that we are fighting this pandemic not only in the countries that can afford to pay for tests, to pay for diagnostics, and to pay for vaccines, but we also have to make sure that countries who are not able to do that on their own get access to these things.” She went on to say that it is not enough to fight the effects of the pandemic in individual countries and that we must fight it in the whole world—something which requires global cooperation.

Even as she focused on the current pandemic, the Prime Minister also stressed the importance of global cooperation in preventing future pandemics, noting that she is particularly concerned about the rising prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Many countries, however, are unwilling to invest significant amounts in new antibiotics, and many also refuse to enact policy changes that would slow the development of new superbugs, such as reducing the number of antibiotics used in raising livestock and farmed fish. Norway has made these changes, but Ms. Solberg said that we need more long term thinking in politics—it is much more difficult to deal with a full-blown crisis than to address a problem earlier on. 

This was something that Ms. Solberg stressed in terms of climate change, as well as a need for global cooperation in addressing the issue. Though oil is still a significant part of Norway’s economy, the country is trying to shift away from it and has ensured that the drilling and production itself is carbon-neutral. Furthermore, Norway has created a sovereign fund where it directs all of its oil income, and some of this money is used to increase revenue from greener sectors. However, she stressed that no country can address the issue of the climate crisis alone, and that it is something that requires cooperation and reliance on participation in international organizations and agreements.

Despite her continued emphasis on global cooperation, Ms. Solberg acknowledged that international organizations are imperfect. She spoke briefly on the need for reform in these organizations, particularly in the UN, which she said needs to be more representative of the global population. Despite this, she urged us not to discard the importance of these organizations despite their shortcomings, stating: “Not having a perfect multilateral world does not mean we should put it aside and not try.”

Planet Earth via Bwog Archives