Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO-Industry Forum (NIF) in Rome, Italy – NATO HQ

Good morning.
It is good to see you all again. I am sure you all had a lovely evening yesterday.
Let me start by thanking you, Minister Guerini, dear Lorenzo, for hosting us.
Many thanks to Italy for hosting NATO-Industry Forum.
And also many thanks to General Lavigne and to his team for organising this year’s NATO Industry Forum.

And this is a forum I really look forward to attend every year because it is an important platform to engage with industry.
As I said yesterday, our engagement with the industry is long-standing.
It is very important.
And it is mutually beneficial.
On the one hand, NATO and Allies depend on the industry to provide us with the capabilities we need.
On the other, industry depends on decisions taken by NATO to shape the market you operate in. 

NATO sets the guidelines for how much Allies invest in defence and what they will spend the money on.
By agreeing the capability targets for every ally.
And we also set the standards that ensure inter-operability.

The good news is that since 2014, since we made the pledge in Wales to start to increase defence spending, all allies have increased defence spending.
We have seven years, seven consecutive years of increased defence spending across the Alliance.
And back in the ‘14 only three Allies met the guidelines of spending 2% of GDP on defence.
Now actually ten Allies spend 2% of GDP on defence.
And the majority of allies have a plan in place to meet that target.
So as I also mentioned at the reception yesterday, in total over the last seven years, this has added 260 billion extra dollars for defence.
And that really shapes the market, you, as industry are operating in.
Then you the industry, the private sector, the defence industry, you nurture innovation.
With the extra money, you maintain and upgrade our existing capabilities.
And you develop and manufacture new ones.
This is crucial to ensure we keep our technological edge,
and to protect our citizens.

So it is in our shared interest to work very closely together.
As we actually do.

In recent years, we have developed cutting-edge capabilities that integrate some of the latest technologies.
Such as the Alliance Ground Surveillance system, that provides high-quality radar imagery and operates from Italy.
I actually visited the base.
It is very impressive both the capability as such,
but also the people and the capabilities on the ground processing the data that is collected by the Alliance Ground Surveillance System.

We are currently working on the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control system to replace our AWACS and be our new ‘eyes in the sky’.
We are also testing maritime unmanned systems. 
And developing the next generation of helicopters.

By working together, we help ensure Allies are able to operate different technologies seamlessly,
between their forces,
and with each other.
Advancing interoperability is key to our effectiveness.

Looking ahead, our partnership with the defence and tech industry – across Europe and North America – will be even more critical.
Because our ability to innovate is seriously being challenged. 
More countries around the world are racing to develop new technologies from artificial intelligence to hypersonic gliders.
And we have actually seen some testing, both by Russia and China demonstrated that they are investing heavily in these technologies.

And other countries are often competing to dominate these new technologies.
NATO Allies are front-runners in this race still.
But other players are catching up fast.
They do not always share our values.
Or play by the same rules.
And they are challenging NATO’s technological dominance.

One of the main players is China.
It will soon have the biggest economy in the world.
And it already has the second largest defence budget.
So we need to address the rise of China which really is something that is changing the security environment we all are faced with.
China has the second largest defence budget.
China has the ambition to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030.
And to have the most technologically advanced armed forces in the world by 2050.

Given the record progress the Chinese have made in recent years,
this ambition is not rhetorical – it is very real.
Indeed, we see Beijing investing heavily in new modern capabilities,
and rapidly integrating advanced technologies into its military.

Russia is in the race too.
Making considerable progress notably in hypersonic technology.
Investing in new cyber capabilities.
And in space.

Faced with growing competition from authoritarian regimes,
we are re-doubling our efforts to stay at the forefront of technology.
The security and freedom of our one billion people depend on that.

That is why at the NATO Summit in Brussels in June this year, we took bold decisions.
Including on innovation and emerging and disruptive technologies.

As a result, we are now setting-up a Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic:  DIANA. 
To facilitate transatlantic cooperation and exchanges on critical technologies between Allies.
As part of DIANA, Allies have committed to provide a network of technology test centres and accelerator sites across the Alliance,
to better harness civilian innovation for our security. 
And to strengthen the technological bond between Europe and North America.
Some of these facilities will be in place next year.

DIANA is part of a bigger picture.
In tandem, we are also establishing a NATO Innovation Fund.
Just a few weeks ago, 17 Allies signed up to take the lead in developing this new fund.
And I expect more Allies to join.
The Fund will invest one billion euros,
with innovators across the Alliance,
working on emerging, disruptive and green technologies.

Both DIANA and the Innovation Fund will leverage the pool of talent that we have in our 30 nations.
We have an abundance of excellent academic institutions.
The finest researchers.
And creative companies.
Many of which are in the audience today.
With the best minds,
in free societies,
we have a significant advantage in the development of new technologies.

We must use this in full.
Especially to develop future defence capabilities using clean and green technology.

Our new military capabilities cannot rely on the same sources of fuel and energy that we have used for the past century.
I was just at COP26 in Glasgow, where we addressed the tremendous threat climate change poses to everyone’s security.
NATO, the military, and industry, all have a part to play in addressing this threat.

Together, we must deliver new, innovative, sustainable capabilities that contribute towards the goal of net-zero emissions.

At the same time, we must ensure we remain the most technologically advanced military alliance.
We cannot choose between having a climate-friendly or a strong army.
We need both.
Protecting our citizens and protecting our environment must go hand-in-hand.

In addition to DIANA and the new Fund,
we are putting in place strategies on technologies that are most relevant to security and defence.
Just a month ago, we agreed our first-ever strategy on artificial intelligence.
It sets standards for responsible use of artificial intelligence, in accordance with international law.
It lays out how we will protect this technology.
And it addresses the threats posed by the use of artificial intelligence by adversaries.
In the coming months and years, we will be developing other similar strategies on key technologies.
Including autonomous systems, quantum and biotech.

Finally, I’s like to say a few words on NATO’s next Strategic Concept.
Which is a central theme in your discussions at this Forum.

The last Strategic Concept was agreed back in 2010.
And this current strategic concept has served us well.

At the same time we have to recognise that the time has changed.
Because when I look at the current Strategic Concept, it envisioned a true strategic partnership with Russia.
And China is not mentioned with a single word.
So it just highlights the importance of us changing and updating our strategic concept.
And that’s exactly what we are doing now as we prepared for the upcoming Madrid Summit.

And I’m certain that the next Strategic Concept which we will agree at the NATO Summit in Madrid in June next year, will be a forward looking document.
That will highlight and underline the importance of transatlantic unity, North America and Europe working together. 
But also the importance of technology, of working with the industry,
and to make sure that we invest in defence, in deterrence and defence,
and that we continue to work with industry to make sure that we keep our technological edge.

NATO is the most successful alliance in history for two reasons.
First, because we have been able to stand together despite differences.
North America and Europe have been able to stand together facing different threats and challenges.
The other reason – why NATO is the most successful alliance in history – is that we have been able to change when the world is changing.
Now the world is changing.
Not least in the area of industry technology,
and therefore NATO has to adopt once again,
not least when it comes to technology, working with industry.

Thank you so much.
It’s always a great honour to attend this NATO Industry Forum.

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