Text: Maria Vang Ormhaug
Starting out as a political advisor for the Young Conservatives, Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende has come a long way. He has a substantial international background, with experience from both UN and the World Economic Forum.
The essential task of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to work for Norway’s interests internationally: to safeguard the country’s freedom, security and prosperity. As a membership organization with members all over the world, Norwegians Worldwide has a keen interest in the rights and opportunities of Norwegians who live outside Norway. We talked with Børge Brende regarding globalization and how Norwegians abroad can be a invaluable resource for our country.
–Globalization makes the world smaller. How do you think this affects us?
“History has taught us of the dangers of closing our minds and borders. Our prosperity and security is built on our openness to knowledge, trade and cooperation. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I want to help ensure that the energy of globalization is aided by multilateral efforts and harnessed to help overcome the key challenges of our time – from climate change to economic growth and development to peaceful coexistence in a rapid changing world. When we meet globalization with confidence, Norway is well placed to contribute in these endeavors,” Brende says.
Challenges for Norwegian Business
Brende states that Norwegian business has always had an international orientation. However, he says, “the last couple of decades the global business scene has changed dramatically, and so have Norwegian businesses. Today the 30 largest enterprises have approximately two thirds of their staff abroad. In the same period, Norway has become an important producer and exporter of energy with an increasing presence abroad.”
Brende thinks we have to stay sustainable to remain competitive with other countries. “In my Foreign Policy speech to the Storting (Parliament) in March last year, one of my focal points was how Norway should meet the challenges posed by intensified global competition. If Norwegian business falls behind on competitiveness globally we will not be able to sustain our standard of living and the wellbeing of our citizens. This is the simple fact!
-What are your thoughts regarding Norwegians living abroad?
“Norwegians have always travelled abroad. We are a small country, but with a broad view towards the world. Therefore, you will find Norwegians and Norwegians descendants practically all over the world. This is an invaluable asset for Norway.”
Ambassadors for Norway
Brende states that Norwegians abroad are ambassadors for Norway, both where they work and in their local community. “For many they are the only Norwegian the local communities have met or will ever meet. Norwegians abroad will influence the impression people get of Norwegians and color the image of Norway. Norwegians living abroad are also a resource for Norway. They have a unique insight into local culture and society. This is of great value not only to Norwegian enterprises but also for us in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he says.
- Born September 25, 1965 in Odda
- Married and has two sons
- Represents the Conservative Party
- Started as a political advisor for the Young Conservatives in 1985
- Became a Member of Parliament in 1997, as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
- Served as Minister of the Environment 2001–2004
- Served as Chairman of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development 2003-2004
- Served as Minister of Trade and Industry 2004–2005
- Honored with the Order of St. Olav in 2005
- In 2005 he became International Vice Chairman of the China Council for the International Cooperation on Environment and Development
- Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross from 2009-2011
- Managing Director for the World Economic Forum, 2008-2009 and 2011-2013
- Brende has been Minister of Foreign Affairs in Norway since October 16, 2013
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the largest ministry in the Norwegian government administration