Kungl. Slottet, Stockholm
(Det talade ordet gäller)
Your Royal Highness
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for a most rewarding day, with inspiring discussions that I hope will inspire many concrete actions.
Child safety in a digital age is definitely on the agenda right now.
Last week I and a few others in this room attended the conference at the Vatican, “Promoting Digital Child Dignity from Concept to Action”.
Today we have held this outstanding meeting. And tomorrow, in this very room, we will hold the Annual meeting of World Childhood Foundation with participation from the boards and executive directors from all our offices; Sweden, USA, Brazil and Germany. We will discuss, among other things, what we as a foundation can do even better to protect children online.
This year marks 20 years since I founded World Childhood Foundation and ten years since my family and I founded Global Child Forum.
I wanted this year to reflect one of the main challenges – and opportunities - that we see in this day and age: the role of technology, including artificial intelligence.
So my wish was for Childhood to highlight child safety online and for our foundations to work together. That was the starting point which led us all to gather here today.
This is a topic that I have felt strongly about ever since the first big case of dissemination of child sexual abuse material was revealed in Sweden in 1992.
At that time, pictures and films were manually copied and sent to buyers through regular mail. The police revealed a huge amount of films documenting children that were raped and abused. One hundred and fifty films. At that time, a scale that was unheard of.
We knew so little then. And our legal system was far from good enough at protecting children from secondary trauma and exploitation.
This case led to new legislation, which made possession of child pornography illegal in Sweden. It also made me for the first time understand the horrible consequences of documented child sexual abuse. It was one of the reasons why I decided to devote a lot of my time to counteract those crimes.
Much progress has been made since then: We know more. Parents and children are generally better educated. Legislation and law enforcement are much better equipped to handle these cases. We are many who are not afraid to speak about it anymore. The fact that it is a theme which is discussed both at the UN, in the Vatican and here today is a clear sign of that.
But we need to do more.
And we need to act now.
Because every minute we wait, thousands of children will suffer, knowing that images of their abuse are still circulated online, children will continue being at risk of grooming or exposed to abuse on demand.
We simply cannot wait. And we need to do this together. I know that may sound as a platitude, but it is true. We need to work together to an extent that we have not managed to do so far.
And you were all invited because you need to be part of the solution.
The risks for children online are changing rapidly, both in scale and in form. In order to prevent those risks from turning into harm, we need the sharpest minds to be on our side. On the side of children. That is also one of the reasons why you are here today.
We need for advanced technology to be developed with a child safeguarding perspective in mind. By people and companies that not only look at profit, but who are willing to take responsibility for how their technology is used – or misused. This is especially important when it comes to AI. Even those of us who do not understand the complexities of Artificial Intelligence, we at least understand that with such a powerful tool – we cannot afford to fail. We need to make sure that it is right from the start.
There are already several partnerships with all main stakeholders. We have good reports with data about the problem. And we have recommendations about strategies for change. Now it is time to make sure all of this is transformed into concrete action.
Therefore, before we say goodbye today I have one request for you: when you leave here today, please do not just continue as before. Take something with you from today that helps you do something differently, something concrete to ensure that children can enjoy their lives online without fear and harm. On behalf of my family, Global Child Forum and World Childhood Foundation I want to thank all of you for being here today.
I also want to take this opportunity to announce that the next Global Child Forum will be held here at the Royal Palace on the 8th of October next year, 2020. So please, save the date!
Ladies and gentlemen. Bringing bright minds together, as we have done here today, is a wonderful thing. Now, I look very much forward to following the outcome of today’s meeting.
Once again, thank you.