Kevin Meehan, IEP ’17

Studying Norway’s Advanced Environmentalism

Summer 2017

I chose to attend NHH’s summer school program on Natural Resource Management as I felt the program would give me an in-depth understanding of how a country can effectively manage its natural resources as well as preserve and sustain its environment with effective policy. I believe that I met this objective through learning’s from lectures as well as several field trips to oil, gas and fish farming companies. Lectures from NHH Professors that stood out the most included one on the European electricity market and the spot markets associated with them as well as another on the aquaculture industry in Norway and how to took several policy iterations to achieve a more sustainable industry.

A key lesson learned from the program was understanding how Norway did not fall into the resource curse trap like many countries with oil and gas wealth. I found one of the key reasons for this was in relation to the reaction Professors at NHH cited Norwegians had when oil was first discovered in the North Sea in 1969. Instead of reacting with joy, Norwegians reacted with a deep sense of concern and worry whether this new found wealth would hurt their nation. This concern helped Norwegians in the long term I think as it brought a significant amount of discipline and conservatism in how they managed their oil wealth.

Program group photo after visiting Aquaculture facility in the fjords near Bergen, Norway.

One striking experience during my time in Norway was the general comfort Norwegians had with both being an oil producer and at the same time aggressive in their environmental and sustainability goals. There did not appear to be the drastic political fault lines as seen in the United States between oil and gas companies and the environmental world. For example, when visiting the Norwegian state oil and gas company, Statoil’s, gas refinery plant, I was struck by how contained the plant was among startling natural beauty around it. Rather than spilling out in the environment around it, Statoil seemed to reside sustainability in its environment.

The program included a team project where we produced both a 30 minute presentation and 20 page paper on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the differences between natural resource based and non-natural resource based company approach. The paper addressed the current landscape of CSR for natural resource based firms, including how it differs from other sectors and how these trends are influencing the CSR strategy of natural resource based firms. The paper also delved into how natural resource based firms have a special corporate social responsibility in comparison to other firms because of the impact natural resource firms have on the

social, political, and physical environment are magnified due to the nature of an extractive industry. The paper concluded with a list of recommendations on how CSR should be integrated into natural resources based firms’ business practices.

After my time at the NHH summer school, I now have advanced policy experience, a strong network of new Professors and experts as well as several mindset shifting experiences on how the extractive and environmental community can work together.

Back to Norway Page.