An interview with H.E. Vegard Kaale, Ambassador of | NOW! JAKARTA

An interview with H.E. Vegard Kaale, Ambassador of Norway

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Norway’s deep commitment to environmental issues has helped bolster Indonesia’s participation in programmes concerning sustainability. Ambassador of Norway, H.E. Vegard Kaale spoke to Ranjit Jose about this support.

Ambassador of Norway in Indonesia, H.E. Vegard Kaale. Photo by Raditya Fadilla/NOW!JAKARTA

Recently the UN issued a dire warning to the world regarding the perils of climate change and the urgency of addressing the issue. Norway is among the leaders in tackling this crisis. Where do things stand at the moment with regard to Norway? How can it help lead the world in this crisis at this critical time?
There is broad political support in Norway for an ambitious national climate policy, and our commitment is to become carbon neutral in 2050. Norway alone is a small country but we hope to stimulate the market to provide environmentally friendly solutions that can be used globally. For example, we already have the world’s highest number of electric cars per capita, and the sales of electric cars keep setting new records on a monthly basis. About half of the new cars sold in Norway these days are either fully electric or hybrid cars – like mine here in Jakarta.

We don’t produce cars in Norway, but like Indonesia we are a proud shipping nation, and one of our innovations and contributions to the global fight against climate change is electric shipping. Most new ferries in Norway these days are electric and battery-operated. In addition, hydropower has been our main source of electricity for more than 100 years.

However, our support to forest-rich countries like Brazil and Indonesia in order to avoid deforestation, remains our largest contribution to the global efforts to limit the consequences of climate change. We are proud of the achievements of our Indonesian partners under this cooperation.

Where do things stand with REDD+ at the moment? Recent reports indicate Indonesia has delivered on its commitment. Can you share some thoughts on this?
We just had a delegation from the Norwegian Parliament visiting, and I believe they were impressed by what Indonesia has achieved under our bilateral partnership to reduce the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+ Program). President Jokowi’s administration has invested massively in protecting forests and peatlands from fires and degradation, while at the same time creating jobs that can be combined with more sustainable use of Indonesia’s forests and land.

I believe the results of these investments are starting to show. Some of the building blocks for a full-fledged REDD+ program are still in process. We recognize that it takes time to transform the economy in a more climate friendly direction, as we are doing the same exercise back home.

Please tell us about Norway's participation in the recently concluded 'Our Oceans Conference'. 
The Our Ocean conferences put the spotlight on the many threats that our oceans are faced with, such as pollution and plastic, loss of biodiversity, overfishing and climate change. To a large extent Norway depends on the ocean and its resources so we are very concerned about these problems. We want to be at the forefront internationally for protection and sustainable use of the oceans.

During the conference in Bali on 29-30 October both our Foreign Minister and Fisheries Minister took part. They underlined the Norwegian commitment to save life in the ocean and our Foreign Minister announced that our Government will allocate up to USD 200 million globally to combat marine debris and plastic in the years ahead.

How are economic relations between the two countries, especially in light of the INBC being set up two years ago?
Today approximately 35 Norwegian companies are represented in Indonesia and over one hundred companies is doing business with Indonesia. Some of our biggest companies here are the paint manufacturer Jotun and the energy company Equinor. We also have investments in hydropower and Indonesia is an important market for our fertiliser company, Yara.

Bilateral trade is fairly substantial and amounted to about USD 336 million last year, but there is great potential to strengthen the economic relations. The finalisation of the negotiations of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which is a free trade agreement, will undoubtedly be of great importance. The INBC (Indonesian Norwegian Business Council) plays an important role as facilitator and meeting arena for Norwegian businesses in Indonesia. It is a great help to the Embassy.

What are some of the collaborations you've developed during your time here that you can share with us?
Indonesia and Norway have made very good progress in our climate cooperation. We have stepped up our partnership with Indonesia in the fishery sector and on other ocean issues as combating marine litter. I am optimistic that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) will provide a solid framework encouraging more trade and investments between our countries.

Last, but not least, the four Nordic embassies in Jakarta work closely on several sectors. In April we organised a Nordic Roadshow to four cities in Java focusing on smart cities, transport, energy and education. Instead of celebrating individual national days, the four Nordic Countries hosted a big social gathering in October in Jakarta which was a great success.

 

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This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine November 2018 issue“Travel Issue”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.


RANJIT JOSE