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27. júní 2018 Atvinnuvega- og nýsköpunarráðuneytið

Ræða Þórdísar Kolbrúnar R. Gylfadóttur á ráðherrafundi smáþjóða, 27. júní 2018

Dear Sirs,

I welcome the opportunity to be with you here today.

As you have discussed in this meeting our small sized countries share the unique context and needs since their size better enable them to navigate the complex global scenarios. It is for example easier for us to set and implement policies quickly and effectively.

That is something which I am aware off in my role as the minister of tourism, industry and innovation. In my portfolio I would say that that type of resilience is something which is the recurring theme. Within the topics of energy, innovation and tourism the main goal is to set a long-time vision which ensures a balance between economical, environmental and social aspects. Within these topics there are of course many beneficiaries with different views as well as interests and not always easy to find a path which they are all willing to walk with us towards the future. Therefore, there is great need for resilience and diplomacy to reach together set future destination without unnecessary and draining arguments and accusations.

In that light the government has put as a priority to set comprehensive and long-term policies. In my ministry alone, we are now working at ambitious policies which are aimed to lead our way for the next decades in energy, innovation and tourism. The government is therefore putting great emphasis on the resilience on walking the same path towards the future destination within each topic at hand in stead of being constantly stuck in our steps trying to put out one little fire after the other.

I would in the end like to give you one example about successful innovation which is symbolic regarding how little countries can achieve much with this type of resilience (and maybe sometimes stubbornness) that often is farfetched but indeed found in small societies.

Since the location of Iceland up North makes cultivation an obvious challenge in agriculture. Through painstaking plant breeding efforts taking decades, Icelandic scientists have succeeded in generating barley cultivars that survive the wind, the short summers and the low temperature – and now farmers are able to grow barley around the country.  In parallel to this, other scientists developed barley for molecular farming  using biotechnology. Now barley is grown by the company ORF Genetics to produce high-value molecules of value amounting to millions of US dollars per gram. These are used for products sold for medical research around the world  and dermatology skincare products in 27 countries. Both the company and the products have received multiple awards internationally, now employing around 70 people in Iceland.

With this example we could call „From impossible barley breeding to Bioeffect“ I leave you with my sincere believe that it is with the resilience, diplomacy and the short lines of communication within governments of small societies which can perhaps lead the most succesful paths towards the future.

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