Honorable Guest Professors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
40 years ago the first major UN Conference on Human Environment took place in Stockholm, in June 1972. I was there myself.
It was an important starting point that put global environmental problems on the political agenda. The Stockholm Conference 1972 was followed by other global conferences on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, in Johannesburg in 2002, and now the next one will be in Rio again in a couple of months. I would like to see our symposium here today as one of the activities to mark this 40 year anniversary.
16 years ago I received as a gift a Fund for Science, Technology and Environment. The founders were the Royal Swedish Academies of Sciences, of Engineering Sciences and of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry together with the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. The purpose was to promote research, technological development and enterprise that would contribute to sustainable use of natural resources and the maintenance of biodiversity.
Another gift from MISTRA, the Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research and the STINT, the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education made it possible to invite one international guest professor in the environmental field per year for ten years. This Guest Professorship has become an important way to create links with distinguished foreign researchers, able to contribute to the renewal of Swedish environmental sciences.
I have greatly appreciated these gifts. It has been a stimulating task to select the Guest Professors, with the help of our scientific academies based on proposals from our universities.
This is the first time that we gather all of them at the same time. I am very pleased that you have all been able to come. You represent a range of different disciplines and together you illustrate the complexity of global ecosystems.
Climate Change is a major concern. Demand for energy is increasing all over the world and emissions of greenhouse gases growing. I look forward to hearing more about these challenges from our professors today.
Science has a crucial role in diagnosing the state of our Planet. Global ecosystems are increasingly complex and scientists warn about tipping points. Earth Science has become important as a holistic approach. We cannot look only at one issue at a time. But Science and Technology are crucial for providing new technology, new products and new processes in order to avoid harmful effects.
The international perspective is unavoidable. Pollution does not respect borders. Products are traded worldwide. This is why we believe it is so important to invite foreign scientists to bring and share new knowledge.
Hopefully we will hear today, not only about problems, but also solutions and ways forward. We must accept reality as a starting point, but be smart and turn problems into possibilities. I believe that a development that is environmentally sustainable will in the long term also be economically sustainable.
We have invited to this symposium actors from many sectors in the Swedish society. Scientists from many disciplines, but also business, agriculture, political decision makers and nongovernmental organizations are here today. If we all work together results can be achieved. That is something we can learn from the past.
My hope is that we can use this day to inspire each other so that the next generations can look towards the future with faith and trust.
Finally I would like to thank all and everyone who made this symposium possible.