Ladies and gentlemen, Dear guests,
The Stockholm Water Prize is the world's most prestigious prize for outstanding achievements in water related activities.
During the years, the Stockholm Water Prize Laureates have represented a broad range of disciplines, sectors and countries.
The Prize has been awarded since 1991, and as the Patron of the Prize, I was proud to experience its 20th anniversary last year. I believe this year's Laureate and the grandeur of today's ceremony is a proof that last year's anniversary did not mark a climax. Instead it became a starting point for at least another 20 years.
I remember the discussions when it all began. The idea was to establish a Water Prize as well as organizing a Water Symposium. Our aspiration was to give the Stockholm Water Festival a "more serious touch." Today we can see what a good idea it turned out to be.
We are pleased to provide such a platform for meetings in Stockholm and Sweden. In this forum the exchange of experiences are many to find solutions to important international water challenges.
In most developed countries we take water for granted. We let it flow uncontrolled from the taps without a second thought. However, it doesn't take much to realize how dependent we are. Just think of your own reaction the moment, when unprepared, you turn the tap in the shower or elsewhere and there is nothing there..! Can you feel the frustration?
This time the reason might be a bulldozer accidentally cutting of the water pipes during a road construction, and with luck it won't take more than an hour or two to repair. But what will happen in the future, when the price for water might become the equivalent of the cost for gold and oil?
This morning I personally attended a seminar where the Stockholm Water Prize Laureates came together. We discussed the challenges of dealing with large catastrophic events such as floods and droughts. With rapidly growing cities and oncoming climate change, it is more important than ever to build resilient landscapes and institutions. Stockholm has also had to face these challenges. Only a hundred years ago the city was struggling, seeking to provide its residents with drinking water and sanitation. It was one of the dirtiest cities in Europe.
I found it most interesting to listen to the many brilliant minds focusing on the same problems. World water week is a truly international event where water researchers come together to find common solutions to global challenges.
Your duty is very important to all of us! I wish you all success in the years to come. With these words I would like to thank you for an interesting seminar today and a delicious dinner tonight.