Posted by Sharon Schendel on Nov 25, 2019
Jo Sletbak, Consul General of the Norway Consulate General
 
Jo Sletbak, colleague of our President Brett Mattei, and current Consul General with the Norway Consulate General in San Francisco, swung south from his base in Pacific Heights to talk to our club. Jo began by comparing shorelines- despite its smaller size in terms of area, Norway has a longer coastline than all of the United States. Thus, a maritime lifestyle has long been a hallmark of Norwegian society.
 
Norway seeks sustainability in many aspects, from renewable energy sources, to its fisheries, to its investment in future generations.  Norway is a leader in hydropower technology, but still generates significant revenue from offshore oil and gas exploration. 
 
A democracy since 1814 with the drafting of its constitution (the world’s second-oldest), Norway is a member of NATO. Its location is a site of strategic importance that bridges eastern and western Europe. 
 
The “Nordic Model” describes the cooperation between government, employers and employees.  Although the tax rates are high, the population can readily see the benefits of these taxes, through public funding of health, education and welfare services- all are free to citizens.  Nearly one-third of Norway’s 5 million citizens have a college degree, and military service is compulsory for all young people, male and female.  This strong social network contributes one of the world’s longest life expectancies (~80 years for men and ~84 for women) and consistently high ranking in the UN Human Development Index, although having a more homogenous population contributes to this success.
 
Jo graduated from UC San Diego and the University of San Diego, where he received a Master of Arts in International Relations. Prior to becoming Consul General, Jo served as Deputy Director of Balkan Affairs at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.