HRH Crown Princess Victoria's speech at Multi-Stakeholder SDG Forum

Grand Sérail, Beirut, Lebanon

(The spoken version shall take precedence)

Your Royal Highness,
Prime Minister,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Prince Daniel and I arrived in Lebanon only yesterday. But we are already impressed by the beauty of your country and by your warm hospitality.

The ties between Lebanon and Sweden are strong. And so are the ties between our people. Swedes of Lebanese descent have made a strong mark on culture, economy and politics of Sweden.

Like Lebanon, Sweden is a coastal nation. Historically, our countries have depended on the sea for our livelihood. And in many ways, we still do; for tourism, for trade and for fishing. But also for recreation and inspiration.

Like many of you, I grew up by the sea. My sea is the Baltic – an inland sea about one seventh the size of the Mediterranean. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from there.

I remember how my father would take me fishing. We would sit there in our small boat, on the glittering sea, catching one fish after another.

Today, if I take my children fishing, I'm not sure we'll catch anything at all. Of the world's ten largest areas of dead seabed, seven are located in the Baltic Sea. My sea.

Climate change, pollution and overfishing are posing major threats to our oceans - and to us.

In 2016, I was honoured to be appointed by the former Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, as an Advocate to promote the Global Sustainable Development Goals.

For me, it came natural to focus especially on Goal number 14; Life below water. This has given me, among other things, the opportunity to be part of the SeaBOS initiative: A result of an ongoing dialogue between scientists and seafood companies.

SeaBOS stands for Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship. It involves the largest companies of the global seafood industry. These key actors are fierce competitors. But in this initiative both the CEO:s and the operational staff have managed to come together, setting new standards for their industry. They are now leading a global transformation towards sustainable seafood production and a healthy ocean.

This is just one example of business not just adapting to change, but actually leading it.

I believe we are going to see many more such examples in the near future. Not least here in Lebanon, with its entrepreneurial spirit and its strong private sector. I look very much forward to following the outcome of the Global Compact Network Lebanon and its newly established SDG Council.

A few weeks ago, I visited New York in connection with the opening of the UN General Assembly. There, together with the other advocates, I met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

The Secretary-General's message was clear: in many areas of the 2030 Agenda, progress is being made. But in others, progress is much too slow to meet the Agenda's goals and targets by the deadline just twelve years away.

Just a few examples from the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals report:

Nine out of ten people living in cities breathe polluted air.

The number of undernourished people rose from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016. Mainly due to conflicts and drought and disasters linked to climate change.

And the past five-year average global temperature is the highest on record.

The urgency of the situation was further underlined by the “1,5 degree” report published recently by the IPCC.

Ladies and gentlemen: The clock is ticking!

Let there be no doubt: the situation is serious - even alarming. But it is not hopeless.
Achieving the 2030 Agenda is difficult, but not impossible.
And the time to act is now - not later.

Prime Minister Hariri: I welcome Lebanon's determination to implement the 2030 Agenda, and I wish you the best of luck with this important task!

And please, remember: goals don't change the world - people do. You do.

Thank you.