The former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and UN Chief negotiator on Balkan, now President of the Norwegian Red Cross Thorvald Stoltenberg thinks that cooperation with industry is an important contribution to their future humanitarian work. “Imagine what we can accomplish together!” he says.
Looking ahead the Red Cross will continue their work to meet the UN millennium goal of fighting poverty. When world leaders gathered at the Millennium Summit three years ago, they agreed upon integrated goals with time bound targets for reducing poverty and improving the environment. Access to clean drinking water is a key factor and the UN Millenium Development Goal for Water is to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water”. When entering the partnership agreement with the Red Cross, DNV chose water issues to be the backbone of its efforts.
“We would like to enter into partnerships that both are useful for us in our humanitarian work and at the same time can be of importance for companies,” says Thorvald Stoltenberg. “Together we can work towards the UN millennium goal of fighting poverty,” he says.
There is a range of easy and inexpensive efforts that can be effectuated immediately and that can save millions of lives, according to Thorvald Stoltenberg. He refers to for instance vaccination of children and work against HIV/aids.
“We have a mutual interest in working to combat the dangers that exist and utilise the opportunities available,” he says.
Stretched to the limit
Thorvald Stoltenberg points at the fact that the tsunami catastrophe last December reminded us all that we live in a small world; The natural disaster had painful impact on people all over the world.
After the tsunami hit, all aspects of the Red Cross work were stretched to the limit. For the first time, both the national and international parts of the organisation were put to the test at the same time. “Suddenly the whole organisation were under huge pressure,” he says.
Thorvald Stoltenberg’s first acquaintance with the Red Cross was during the Second World War when his father was arrested and sent to Germany. The only contact the family had with him was through short letters mediated through the Red Cross.
“The Red Cross logo was a shining symbol for me,” he says.
When the war was over, he signed up as a member of the organisation, for which he has had strong feelings for most of his life.
Later, he has personally experienced the organisation’s work in the field, both as Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and as UN Chief negotiator on Balkan in such countries as Nigeria, the Middle East, Nicaragua and Vietnam.
In 1999, he was elected President of the Norwegian Red Cross – a responsibility he accepted with enthusiasm.
“I feel privileged to have the chance to work with the Red Cross,” he says.