Uppsala Castle, Uppsala
(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Six years - that’s 72 months, 312 weeks or 2192 days.
No matter how you count, that is a long time in a person’s life.
And in life, as we know, time makes all the difference.
Six years is six more times to celebrate Christmas eve with your loved ones, six more times to see the midsummer light and the first snowfall.
Six years may allow you to see your grandchild take her first steps, instead of never knowing her at all.
Six years gives you the chance to collect new memories with your family, instead of your family keeping you in their memories.
Six years is hundreds of great grey days of life.
You see, six years is the difference in life expectancy depending on your level of education, where you live, and your economic and social status.
I don’t think that’s worthy of a modern society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to welcome you all to Sweden and Uppsala, and to the Uppsala Health Summit 2019.
The topic of this year’s summit is something that lies close to my heart and it’s without a doubt a topic of great importance and an issue that is not getting the attention it deserves.
One of the issues of today that is getting the attention it deserves, is climate change – and rightly so.
Almost every day people are protesting around the globe to demand action to save our planet.
This is super inspiring. Imagine if we could create the same awareness and action regarding our health.
Then, we might have the chance, not only to save our planet, but also ourselves.
We have seen a shift in norms where a more sedentary lifestyle is the new normal rather than the exception.
Nowadays, physical activity is something you add, and not a natural part of your everyday life – which it should be.
We can also see that the health gaps between groups of children are increasing. If your parents were born in Sweden and have university degrees you are more likely to live a healthy life than if your parents were born somewhere else or don't have a higher education.
Why is it, that we can’t seem to promote a healthy lifestyle for our children that is both achievable and sustainable for all?
Why is it, that parents feel scared to let their kids bike to school – and that the answer from society is to establish a bus line, instead of building safer cycle lanes?
Why is it that children don’t feel inspired enough by their school yard to be physically active, and instead choose sedentary screen time?
Can some part of the answer lie in how we build and plan our communities?
Of course I don’t have all the answers to these questions.
But looking out at this room, I see some of the world’s most brilliant minds on children’s health and urban planning.
I feel hopeful that after this summit we will have ideas for action plans and strategies to offer to society, to politicians, entrepreneurs and schools, so that everyone will be aware of the importance of creating environments that allow, enable and inspire children to move and be more physically active.
We all know, and we have heard it many times, that co-operation is key to solving the great challenges of today. Everyone has to contribute.
And I think we all have ideas and a clear picture of what others should do. I definitely do…
But we also need to ask ourselves: what am I doing?
This question was one of the main reasons why the Crown Princess and I took the initiative to start the organization Generation Pep in the summer of 2016. We wanted to create a movement that could not only put the issue of children’s physical health on the agenda but also inspire companies, organizations, leaders and individuals to act and be part of the change.
Today, three years later, I am happy to say that we have taken steps in the right direction.
Over 1100 schools are now registered in Pep School, a digital tool that helps schools work with physical activity and healthy food on an everyday basis.
We have more than 300 organizations and companies that have dedicated themselves to our vision.
By working together we have also put the issue of children’s physical health higher on the agenda.
However, we are still far from reaching our goal – that every child in Sweden should have the motivation and opportunity to have a healthy lifestyle. That is why we need to step it up, and create a full grown movement where we reach every parent and every child in Sweden with our message.
And I hope that this day will take us one step closer to that goal!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am hopeful, we have seen norm shifts before.
Today we don’t see children in the car without seatbelts and we don’t see their parents in the front seat smoking at the same time.
So there is hope!
Thank you and god luck with your important work.