Stockholms stadshus, Stockholm
(Det talade ordet gäller)
Ladies and gentlemen.
As you have probably noticed, Stockholm is a city of water – built on 14 islands, linked together by 57 bridges. It seems only right that it should also be home to the world’s most prestigious water award, the Stockholm Water Prize.
Tonight I have presented the prize on behalf of my father, His Majesty the King. To his regret, he was not able to attend this evening. He has asked me to convey his best wishes to all of you and his warmest congratulations to this year’s laureates, Professor Bruce Rittman and Professor Mark van Loosdrecht.
For as long as I can remember, my father has been deeply involved in issues related to the environment and nature. As a child, I learned from him to appreciate nature. But also, to recognize my own responsibility for taking care of it. Today, I try to pass on that love for nature to my own children.
For the last two and a half years, I have had the honour of being an advocate for the United Nations Global Sustainable Development goals. From the start, I decided to focus my attention on the goals directly related to water: goal number 6, clean water and sanitation, and goal number 14, life below water.
Access to clean water is an important goal in itself. But at the same time it is a prerequisite for the fulfilment of all the other goals. To put it simply: a sustainable future is fuelled by clean water.
And while the price of water is low, the costs related to misuse of water are enormous.
Ladies and gentlemen, the world is facing major water problems. Every ninety seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. By 2050, our oceans may contain more plastic than fish. And let there be no doubt: climate change will make existing water challenges even greater.
But you have all read those reports. You have seen the numbers. You know the scope of the problem. So instead, let us use our time wisely and focus on solutions! Smart, efficient solutions to repair the damage that has been done. The damage we have done.
And what better way to do that than by celebrating the laureates of the Stockholm Water Prize? And also, not to forget! The bright young recipients of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, which I had the great honour of presenting yesterday.
There is nothing more hope-inspiring than to learn about new and innovative ways to conquer our most fundamental challenges. Like freshwater, the creativity of the human mind is a most valuable natural resource; holding the keys to a just and healthy future for all.