Me, after the ceremony, posing with Mr. Amundsen's ice head.
Exactly one hundred years ago, on the 14th of December 1911, five brave Norwegians led by Roald Amundsen were the first people to reach the South Pole.
We are here today to honour these five men. We are here to celebrate one of the most outstanding achievements of mankind. And we are here to highlight the importance of this cold continent for the warming of the globe.
14th of December 1911 was a proud day for Norway. A young nation that had gained its full independence only six years earlier. The polar expeditions of Roald Amundsen helped to form our new national identity. And the qualities that enabled Amundsen, Hassel, Bjaaland, Hansen and Wisting to reach the South Pole, were precisely those that the young nation wanted to be recognised by: Courage, determination and endurance, and readiness to meet new challenges.
Today is also the time to pay tribute to the bravery of Robert Scott and his men. Scott and his team paid the ultimate prize. But their names will forever be inscribed in Polar history. They will always be remembered for their courage and determination in reaching one of the most unhospitable places on earth.
When Amundsen reached the Pole the team put up its tent, and they named the camp “Polheim” – Home at the Pole. Today the South Pole is “home” for many of you who are celebrating with us today. More than 200 people have their daily work here at the Amundsen-Scott Base during the summer season. I would like to thank you and the US National Science Foundation for receiving us here with such warm hospitality in a frozen environment.
Some of you have experienced the hardship of skiing to the Pole. You have seen the beauty and the fascination of the Antarctic wilderness. And you have learned how challenging and unpredictable this frozen continent can be.
Today, Antarctica is a continent of international cooperation, regulated by a well-functioning Antarctic Treaty, where peace and stability, environmental protection and international scientific research, are at the heart of our joint efforts. Researchers from all over the world are trying to discover the secrets of this vast continent. The Norwegian Troll Station is at the forefront of Norwegian research in Antarctica. Norway and the United States have a long history of scientific cooperation. The US – Norwegian Antarctic Scientific Traverse in 2007 made important findings. The Antarctic continent has been changing more rapidly in recent years than at any time in the past 800 years.
Some of the most rapid and large-scale impacts of climate change are first being seen in the polar regions. The loss of ice in Antarctica can have dramatic global effects. It is our common responsibility to save this planet for future generations.
Roald Amundsen, Robert Scott and their men were prepared to make an extraordinary effort in order to reach their ambitious goals. We need to be prepared to do the same. That is the best way to honour a century of science and exploration at the South Pole.
To mark the historic achievements a hundred years ago, it is now my privilege to unveil this bust of Roald Amundsen here at the South Pole, made by the Norwegian artist Håkon Anton Fagerås.