HRH Prince Daniels opening speech at Misum Forum

Handelshögskolan, Stockholm

(The spoken version shall take precedence)

Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish you could have been there with us, in that village in Assam in north-eastern India. Just south of the Himalayas.

I wish you could have been there with us when we sat down on the plain earth floor, and listened to that mother.

A mother who had so many worries, including how to put food on the table for her family. But who had such great hopes and dreams for her children.

I wish you could have seen her proud smile when she talked about her daughter’s future.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in difficult times.

With several years of global pandemic, the recent war in Ukraine and rising inflation, global poverty levels have risen from 7,8% to 9,1% during the pandemic years.

From 2019 to 2022, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 150 million. Hunger now affects almost 10 percent of the world population.

And learning poverty – the number of 10-year olds that cannot read a simple text – have increased from 57% to 70% in low and middle income countries.

This stands in stark contrast to the goals of Agenda 2030; especially the sustainable development goal number 1 – poverty alleviation.

I think that for a long time, we have tended to take progress and increased prosperity for granted. But now, we are facing some absolutely fundamental challenges. Challenges that affect all of us, but like always, especially those who are already the most vulnerable.

Take for example that village in Assam. A region that is rich in natural resources, but where a third of the population live in poverty.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to travel there a couple of years ago with Pratham and Carl Bennett, who is also here today.

This visit really helped me to understand how extremely important Pratham’s work is – you really change children’s lives.

Several of Sweden’s largest companies with operations in India have partnered with Pratham to provide quality education to more than 30 000 children in rural Assam.

This partnership is one example of how Swedish industry, in partnership with academia and civil society sector, work together to contribute to societal development.

It was there, in Assam, that I met that mother I was telling you about. A mother who spoke with such pride – and hope – about how Pratham’s work had given her daughter a chance, a chance to build a future. A future for herself, her family and her community.

Ladies and gentlemen. Swedish companies are known around the world for solving problems with quality products, for innovation and for being trustworthy. That, together with Pratham’s knowledge, is a winning combination.

I must say that I am so proud of the Swedish chapter of Pratham and Swedish companies who are working together for the future of children across India.

Thank you!