(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the 9th Royal Colloquium!
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all. I look forward to our gathering, and to exchange knowledge and ideas about important issues of our time.
This time the Royal Colloquium meets in Bönhamn, a World Heritage Area. Here the geological uplifting of land is bigger than in any other place of the world, currently 8 mm per year. However, we are not here to discuss the rising land, but probably more the effects of the rising sea level.
But first, I would like to make a quick summary why we are here. The Royal Colloquium started in 1992. The aim was to bring together a small group of experts from a variety of disciplines for informal meetings, to exchange knowledge, facts and ideas across scientific and cultural borders. Climate change has been the main topic of previous Royal Colloquia and I hope this meeting can take the issue one step forward.
One easily becomes pessimistic when observing all the crises to the eco system that could be triggered by a climate change scenario. In spite of that, it is satisfying to see that positive development occur in many parts of the world.
The concern with the climate issues is reflected not only among the world's scientists and policy-makers, but also among young people. I am glad to note this interest by Crown Princess Victoria, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The three successors to the throne have on their own initiative visited Svalbard. And recently they made a journey to Greenland to study the effects of climate change in the region.
Both climate change and sustainable solutions need to be highlighted even more with a wide participation from all parts of society.
During the second part of 2009, Sweden will take the chair of the European Union. The Swedish government is committed to ensure that environmental issues will be on the European agenda. Climate change will be brought into all discussions relating to future development in the European Union. The international climate conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009 will be a milestone and the start of a new protocol after the current Kyoto meeting.
It is clear that we in the developed part of the world need to take a lead with political measures which will convince other countries to follow. And the conclusion we make from this 9th Colloquium will hopefully provide useful ideas within a broader political framework. It is my sincere hope that the Copenhagen meeting will be successful.
When I listen to the scientists and recall the outcome of previous Royal Colloquia, I have the impression that we do have considerable knowledge to build from. However, when this knowledge is being transformed into the public domain it tends to go from facts to fear, rather than from analysis to action.
Of course we cannot act on general sweeping statements about climate. We need to identify key elements, the prime drivers as well as the critical consequences on local, regional and global scales.
With this in mind we have suggested some specific themes for this Colloquium - “Energy, water and food security.” Energy is a common currency for development. As you can see from the programme, this issue will be given considerable attention in the presentations.
However, it is not good enough to identify what can or what should be done. We need to take into account the means available, institutions, economic market - and above all, human value, attitudes and behaviour. No doubt it is an ambitious task we have in front of us! I am looking forward to two interesting days of reflections together with you.
With these words I once again would like to wish you welcome to the 9th Royal Colloquium and some fruitful days!