Powered by nature
Norway is blessed with rich natural resources and a strong economy. Stian Berger Røsland examines how Oslo is helping shape Norway’s future role in the world economy
Norwegians have made their way through the different phases of history by finding smart ways of cooperating with other countries and effective management of their natural resources. Oslo has been the centre for the country’s development and will continue to be a motor in developing Norway’s knowledge-based economy.
Norway has strong traditions in the shipping industry and when oil was struck in the North Sea these traditions helped the country move into a new era of petroleum. Much of the industry in the south-west of Norway shifted and became key developers and suppliers for this new adventure. The introduction of oil into the Norwegian economy has had a significant impact on the country and on its way of life.
However, while the era of oil and gas will not last forever, it can be prolonged with smart innovations. In Oslo they see their role in this primarily as facilitators – they would like to accommodate businesses to extend and manage their resources in a sustainable fashion.
The search for new and cleaner energies is by far the most important aspect of what human beings can do today. Norway already has Europe’s largest hydropower resources, and on the European continent energy companies and grid operators are keen to establish closer cooperation with Norway. By using their resources in intelligent ways, Norway could serve as Europe’s green battery. Plans are ready for offshore wind mill parks in the North Sea, and the solar energy sector is already one of the strongest in the world. Oslo is proud to be the host city for many headquarters in the forward-thinking industries of renewable energy.
Oslo is also becoming a knowledge hub for the biomarine sector in Norway. This encompasses the traditional fisheries, aquaculture and all the innovations taking place in the vast waters along the western and northern coasts of Norway. Norway’s Universities have played a major role in educating people to find new ways of managing these resources and is also home to the world-leading financial players in this field. Today scientists, investors, entrepreneurs and governments from all over the world gather regularly in Oslo to take part in the development of new solutions of marine harvesting and new products that have been subtracted from the oceans.
The focus in Norway’s long-term strategy has been a continued drive for innovation and modernisation, labour market policies, education and training and governmental programs. This economic and political base provides the foundations for a fruitful mixture of highly advanced IT companies and sophisticated and educated consumer markets. Oslo has therefore seen the growth of a highly professional and profitable service industry and there are plenty more opportunities to get involved. The Oslo region thus plays a special role in Norway not only as the capital, but as the gateway to the Norwegian economy. Oslo is becoming one of the major global knowledge hubs in the maritime, energy and biomarine industries, and the development strategy of the city is to systematically look for more possibilities in the integration between them. In many ways, Oslo’s role in the Norwegian economy is founded on a sustainable relationship with nature. This has long been the platform for success in Norway and Oslo, and will continue to work that way in the future.
Standards of life
The United Nations has for many years ranked Norway as the best country in the world to live in. It is a safe and stable, well-functioning and transparent democratic society with a highly developed health and welfare sector, organised to accommodate dual-career families.
With hills and forests to the north and the fjords to the south, Oslo is surrounded by blue and green, with a vibrant city nestled in between. Public right of way along the fjord, in the forests and the city’s many parks and green spaces ensures access to Oslo’s unique nature experience for visitors and residents alike. With nature as a source for inspiration, recreation and pure physical energy, Oslo and its people are truly powered by nature.
This quality of life – in combination with one of Europe’s strongest labour markets – has led to a steady population increase – close to 20,000 new citizens last year. With the neighbouring County of Akershus, the Oslo region now has around 1.1m people. This growth is explained by the strong Norwegian and Oslo economy, the need for skilled labour and the low unemployment rates (less than two percent). The Oslo region has room for more people. Existing talent attracts more talent. Oslo has many areas of talent, but is always looking to welcome more.
The region has three airports with Oslo’s Gardermoen acting as the major airport. This secures connections to the rest of the country and the world. However, the city’s ambition does not stop there. Next year the Norwegian parliament will decide if they will introduce high-speed train networks between Oslo and the large cities in Norway as well as Stockholm and Gothenburg.
The first step would be to connect Oslo with Gothenburg, and then perhaps with the joint effort of Norwegian, Swedish and perhaps even foreign capital, continue the journey all the way to Malmo and Copenhagen, effectively reducing the travelling time to about one hour between each of the three ‘strong’ Scandinavian urban areas. By doing this Norway can create a new urban reality of the “Scandinavian eight million city”. Being a part of this new Scandinavian mega region, Oslo will also be able to cooperate with a larger economical and scientific community and consumer base in Scandinavia. This new Scandinavian power block could become one of the worlds strongest.
Norway has become one of the richest and most developed countries in the world because of smart ways of working with nature and our neighbours. The closing of the petroleum era in a few decades, spurs the need for change. The drive for the new, for risk takers, for an efficient government and, finally, networked talent with great ideas and skills, makes Oslo the new powerhouse for innovation and growth in Europe. Norway and Oslo have just started the next phase of their history and welcome everybody to join them.
For more information: Stian Berger Røsland, Governing mayor of Oslo, www.oslo.teknopol.no