The King and Queen, The Crown Princess Couple and Princess Madeleine in the Hall of State. Photo: Henrik Garlöv/royalcourt.se
On Thursday 17 November, the second World Child & Youth Forum (WCYF) began at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. Here is a report of the day's events.
The doors to the Royal Palace of Stockholm were opened at 08:15, and several hundred guests came through the South Gate to register. The participants then made their way through the Royal Palace of Stockholm via the Bernadotte Apartments, to the Hall of State where the WCYF began. The King declared the forum open, before handing over to The Queen who gave an opening speech. In her speech, The Queen said: "Children are dependent on what the adults around them say and do. That is why it is important that every single one of us does all we can to try to meet their needs and rights in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Not only for their sake, but also for our own sake." Children's Ombudsman Fredrik Malmberg then introduced the WCYF by speaking about the theme for the day, Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the best interests of the child. He urged the audience to think about what each one of them could do to improve children's situations. He concluded by saying: "Visions are all very well, but a presence in children's everyday lives is even better." One of the two moderators for the day, David Dopping Blomberg, then spoke about what adults can do for children. "Sometimes it's enough to simply look us in the eye and say 'Hello'." There then followed a discussion on the best interests of the child, with three pupils from year 8 at Södermalm School in Stockholm. The pupils talked about the results of their school project on the theme of the best interests of the child, which they had interpreted in various ways. Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, then spoke. Georg started with a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, thanking the Royal Family for taking the initiative to promote the issue of the rights of the child. After this message, Georg talked about the UN Global Compact and the principles that lie behind it. Georg concluded by describing his own experiences as an orphan, and how he really understands the importance of supportive adult role models who care about children. Elisabeth Dahlin, Secretary General of Save the Children, then talked about the background to the Scandinavian launch of the UN Global Compact's Children's Rights and Business Principles Initiative. There then followed discussions with Marilyn Carlson Nelson from Carlson, Carl Peter Thorwid from Accenture and Helena Helmersson from H&M on how businesses work with children's rights issues. The panel highlighted the importance of getting all employees onboard on several occasions, and how the Global Compact is a great help in this respect. Veronique Lönnerblad, Secretary-General of UNICEF Sweden, gave a speech about how states and companies must work together to strengthen children's rights. A discussion was then held on cross-border collaboration on the best interests of the child. The panel included representatives from Rosengård School in Malmö, Non-Violence and Hotel Skansen Båstad. The morning concluded with three songs from the Star for Life choir, before the networking lunch began.