The World Child & Youth Forum 2013
Motiv: The King and Queen arrive at the Hall of State. Photo: royalcourt.se
On Friday 22 March, the third World Child & Youth Forum (WCYF) began at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. This year's theme was "Children's Rights — any of your business?".
The doors to the Royal Palace of Stockholm were opened early in the morning, and more than three hundred guests came through the South Gate to register. In the Hall of State, the participants were greeted by music performed by the Junior Academy.
The Junior Academy performed as the guests gathered in the Hall of State. Photo: royalcourt.se
The King welcomes participants to the World Child & Youth Forum 2013. Photo: Leif R Jansson/Scanpix
The King opened this year's WCYF and emphasised how pleased The King and Queen were that the Royal Palace of Stockholm has become a forum for work relating to the world's children. This year's theme, "Children's Rights — any of your business?", follows on from the guidelines launched by UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact a year ago in the Children's Rights and Business Principles. The aim of these guidelines is to help companies to take greater responsibility for children's rights, and to put children's rights issues on the agenda.
Chairman of WCYF Ulf Karlberg introduced the day's moderator, Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE. Photo: Jonas Borg/WCYF
Chairman of WCYF Ulf Karlberg spoke about the great support for this year's WCYF, which is more international in nature and features a greater focus on businesses. Around half of the 350 invitees were from businesses, and the world elite in connection with children's rights issues — including Save the Children, the UN Global Compact, Plan International and UNICEF — were also present. The aim is to follow up on what has happened since the launch of the guidelines. Ulf Karlberg introduced the day's moderator, Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt during his opening speech. Photo: Jonas Borg/WCYF
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt then gave an opening speech. He mentioned that the significant interest in this year's WCYF shows how important children's rights issues are, and that we must take global responsibility. States have a great responsibility, but so do businesses. There then followed a discussion entitled "Children's Rights & Business Principles: Taking stock one year on". Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, USA, Jasmine Whitbread, Secretary General of Save the Children International, and Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive of UNICEF in Geneva, spoke about what has happened during the year since the launch of their report, Children's Rights and Business Principles. They have noticed that things are starting to move in the right direction, and that businesses have shown a great interest, but that it is still too early to see any major changes. During a panel discussion, CEO of The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Christopher Avery emphasised the importance of translating guidelines and other important documents into languages such as Arabic, Spanish and Chinese if everyone is to be involved in the changes, and daring to speak about difficulties as well as successes.
The King and Queen and The Crown Princess Couple during the morning's talks. Photo: Jonas Borg/WCYF
Johan Öberg and Fredrik Vogel from The Boston Consulting Group presented the results of the Global Survey on Business and Children. The survey shows that companies' awareness and prioritisations of children's rights issues are low. The next subject was "The Obligations of States on the Impact of Business on Children's Rights". Marta Maurás, former Vice-Chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Switzerland, spoke about topics including children's rights as everyone's responsibility and the fact that states must act as good role models. The subject "Children's Rights — Do we know, do we care?" was discussed by Minister for Children and the Elderly Maria Larsson, IKEA's CEO Mikael Ohlsson, Safaricom's CEO Bob Collymore, Ron Popper, Vice President, Head of Corporate Responsibility, ABB Group, Switzerland, and Howard Taylor, Vice President & Managing Director, Nike Foundation. The spontaneous reaction was that it is hard to believe that we care when the world is the way it is, but that a great deal is already being done and we are only at the beginning. It will become increasingly important for companies to work consciously to be attractive to both consumers and potential employees. The importance of governments, companies and society working together on children's rights issues was also emphasised. The morning concluded with Laura Turner Seydel, Director of the Turner Foundation in the USA, speaking on the subject of "Listening to the Smallest Voices: Every Child's Right to a Healthy Planet". She presented herself as an environmental warrior and children's rights activist, and spoke about every child's right to — and the decisive importance of — a healthy planet, as well as the importance of global cooperation.
A networking lunch was then held in Karl XI's Gallery.
Lord Hastings and The Queen during lunch in Karl XI's Gallery. Photo: royalcourt.se
A networking lunch was then held in Karl XI's Gallery. After lunch, the participants attended three different seminars:
- "Children's Rights and Business: From commitment to implementation" in the Hall of State.
- "Business' impact on children's access to clean water" in Karl XV's Gallery.
- "Education and training for jobs: The role of the business sector" in the Bernadotte Library.
The King listens to Bob Collymore during the seminar on children's rights to clean water. Photo: royalcourt.se
Minister for Children and the Elderly Maria Larsson during the seminar held in the Bernadotte Library. Photo: royalcourt.se
Afterwards, everyone gathered in the Hall of State for a summary of the seminars. All the discussions were far-reaching. The conclusions included the importance of education, mentoring and cooperation between different players such as states, companies and municipalities. Dan McDougall, Africa Correspondent for The Sunday Times, reports from more than 90 different countries. He has won the prestigious Amnesty International Media Award for Outstanding Human Rights Journalism three times. He spoke about his work in dangerous areas. Despite everything he has seen, he still has great hope for the future, having seen so many children protesting and fighting back against attacks and injustices. He concluded by saying that children are brave and have a sense of justice.
The Crown Princess closes the World Child & Youth Forum 2013. Photo: royalcourt.se
The Crown Princess then gave a speech in which she thanked all those who had been involved in the day. She hoped that those present would show the children of the world that they were not only here to speak, but also to make a difference. The Crown Princess concluded by quoting Pippi Longstocking: "When you are very strong, you must also be very kind." The afternoon then concluded with a concert in the Royal Chapel. A reception was held in the evening at the Royal Armoury. The work relating to the WCYF is continuing, and a satellite forum will take place somewhere in the world before next year's forum. You can follow this work at wcyf.se.