Your Royal Highness, Ministers,
Commissioner of the Queen,
Mayor of Leiden,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to attend this seminar at the University of Leiden. The topic of today's discussion - the sustainability of our cities and societies - is important, timely, and an issue that I follow with great interest.
Climate change, scarcity of resources and an increasing population represent challenges to all of us - companies and governments as well as to individual producers and consumers. To achieve sustainable urban development is however not only a challenge. It also offers opportunities. Our ambition to protect the environment for future generations will spur the development of new technologies, innovation, exchange of knowledge, and increase cooperation between scientists and institutions worldwide.
There is a strong focus on the development of green technology in both Sweden and the Netherlands. I believe that the implementation of such technologies will strengthen the competitiveness of our economies and improve living standards in the future. In Sweden, we have adopted an integrated approach to sustainable cities which we call SymbioCity – you will learn more about this during the seminar. Here I could perhaps add that the Royal Palace is nowadays connected to a district heating power plant and the Drottningholm Palace, where we live, has been heated by wood pellets for a couple of years already, which has reduced the emission as well as costs.
The Netherlands has developed its own solutions and technologies, not least due to the threat of rising sea levels. Our two countries are working actively both at national and international levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to combat climate change, and to improve the environment. Climate change will also be at the top of the agenda of Sweden´s EU Presidency, starting 1 July this year.
The seminar today offers an opportunity to discuss what sustainability means, in practice, and to learn more about what technical solutions are on offer. I hope that the seminar will lead to intensified cooperation between participating companies, organisations and city administrations.
Let me also take this opportunity to thank all the organisers and the University of Leiden for hosting this seminar.