Under-Secretary General, Sha Zukang,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
40 years ago, in 1972, the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment took place here in Stockholm. I participated in the meetings and I know that some of you here today, did as well. So, it is therefore a great pleasure for me to welcome you, and all the new participants, to Stockholm and this Forum.
The Stockholm Conference in 1972 was a historical meeting. It was an important starting point that put global environmental and sustainability problems on the political agenda. It was followed by other global conferences about the same issues, in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and Johannesburg in 2002. And in June this year, Rio will once again be the host, when the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development takes place.
Just as last time in Stockholm, the "Stockholm +40 Forum" has put together researchers, civil society and business leaders, decision makers, and not least the younger generation to discuss issues that are vital to the future. The participation and engagement of the next generation is very important. As a leader and active member of the international scout movement, I have seen the difference that they can make.
International perspectives and cooperation are necessary to achieve global sustainable development. Working towards this goal, in partnership, is the essence of this conference.
You have come from all over the world, from countries at different stages of development. All of you represent different stakeholder groups. You have crucial knowledge, on how to identify the challenges that we all are facing, as we work towards environmental, social and economic sustainability. You have also gained valuable experience that can be used to move forward. We can all learn from each other and share good examples. We need to put forward and underline the benefits of action.
It is therefore my sincere hope that during the "Stockholm +40 Forum" we will be inspired by insights of what has been achieved since 1972. Today, we will not only hear about the problems, but also about the solutions and ways forward.
Since 1972, many countries including Sweden have started to solve the most urgent local problems. Air quality in cities has improved, as well as the quality of many rivers and lakes. The global society has also been able to successfully deal with the increasing threat against the ozone layer.
However, there are still many challenges to be dealt with, for instance how to supply energy and food to a growing population in the world, and how to deal with threats to biodiversity and in the long run the stability of our climate. We must accept reality as a starting point, but be smart enough to turn problems into opportunities.
Since emissions of carbon dioxide are still growing globally, it is an indicator that we still have not done enough to address that problem. On the other hand, the use of solar energy is now growing fast and the cost of solar cells have dropped rapidly.
I believe that a development that is environmentally sustainable will in the long term also be economically sustainable.
I would like to conclude by quoting from the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, agreed in Stockholm in 1972:
In our time, man's capability to transform his surroundings, if used wisely, can bring to all people the benefits of development and the opportunity to enhance the quality of life.
This is my belief and I am sure you all agree with me.
Finally, I would like to wish you good luck with the "Stockholm +40 Forum." Hopefully you will have many inspiring and enlightening discussions over the next days. Let the Conference encourage us to be part of benefits and opportunities of development to present and future generations.
When we meet again, at the "Stockholm +50 Forum," in a more positive and prosperous situation, then we will have an even bigger reason to celebrate the 50th Anniversary.