During the past few weeks the world´s attention has been drawn to Rome. Regardless of faith, people all over the world have followed the last days and hours of a great leader. Moral values have been in focus in a rare way when the life and legacy of the charismatic Pope John Paul II have been evaluated.
After that came the period of waiting for the white smoke to rise from the Sistine Chapel. A new Pope was elected and on Sunday Pope Benedictus XVI will be enthroned. Our hope for the good values to survive and overtake the evil in the world will accompany him into his future task of great importance.
The message that has been conveyed during this period of time is clear: there is a place for peace and there is a place for good in this world. There is room for a positive agenda for change.
The reason for my deep involvement with Scouting, now for half a century, is that I do believe in this positive agenda.
I do believe that people are good and that no child is born with an evil mind. Therefore all children, regardless of race, faith or background should have the right to grow up and develop into good citizens of the world community. Some of them need help and support from others to find and follow the right trail.
These were the ideas of Baden Powell. This is where Scouting comes in also today.
Scouts around the world know this message. I was touched by the spirit and selflessness of the scouts in Thailand after the Tsunami disaster. They were deeply involved in the relief and reconstruction work, constituting a reliable and important work force, when I visited the country in mid-February.
But there were also several scouts and scout leaders who lost their lives in the Tsunami.
Almost 400 scouts in Thailand were left without parents after the catastrophe. To help them with their future studies, the Swedish scouts and guides, the Swedish Chapter of Baden-Powell Fellows and the World Scout Foundation joined forces and donated 40.000 dollars, which were matched with an equal amount by our own Chapter in Thailand.
And I have just been informed that another 30.000 Euros have been donated to this project by the Irish Scout Organisation.
In February, as I mentioned before, I had been a scout myself for 50 years. The Swedish Scouts and Guides celebrated this when I was presented with a most generous and wonderful gift, a certified Leadership Training Program for scouts.
To start this off, I hosted a seminar ten days ago at the Royal Palace, in Stockholm, with around a hundred participants . BP Fellows, people from the business community and young scout leaders, discussed different aspects of leadership training, with focus on a multi-cultural society.
The need of cooperation between the business community and the Scout Movement was heavily underlined.
The idea is to present the Scouts who have finished their leadership training program with a diploma in my name. Hopefully this will be a certificate that can be used as a recognised merit, in the search for future employment.
I am very proud of this great new program, since I believe this is exactly the way Scouting can find a place and make itself instrumental to modern society. It feels relevant and it feels valuable. Skilled leaders and role models are needed more than ever in our multicultural societies.
Therefore I have taken the opportunity here tonight to talk a little bit more than usual of my own involvement with Scouting, hoping that it will inspire you all to continue support Scouting.
I have also inspired our Swedish organisation to the establishment of two yearly scholarships, one for The Scout Leader and one for The young Business Leader of the Year.
By this initiative my fellow scouts in Sweden and myself hope to be able to see more youngsters engage in Scouting and other volunteer activities.
We also hope that more young people will be given a leadership training based on a set of good values and ethics, useful for their future professional work and roles in society.
To visit Rome is always special. We have gathered here tonight to welcome a number of new BP Fellows. But we have also come here to support Marie Louise and Eduardo from the World Scout Organisation in their important work.
We can all do so by helping them in raising funds for Scouting all over the world. Those needs are never satisfied, I´m afraid ... By coming here tonight you have shown your will to do so. But you have also proved that Scouting is alive and relevant to all of us in today´s society.
I thank you for that and welcome you, once again, into our large BP Fellows Family. A Family that is open to anyone who shares the values of a good society. A Family that can always grow by new BP Fellows entering into our circle. Think of that! And act!
Thank you and good night.