(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Dear speakers, delegates and participants from all over the world,
I am greatly honoured to welcome you to Stockholm and Sweden.
As you may know, the organization that eventually turned into today’s Workability International was founded here in Sweden, just outside of Stockholm. And the founder, Gerhard Larsson, is present here today.
More than 20 years ago, Gerhard kindly invited me to a Workability International conference, held in the Netherlands. Although much time has passed since then, I still remember that conference very well. Seeing stakeholders from all over the world come together to champion the rights of people with disabilities; that made a lasting impression on me.
Today, I am delighted to see that Workability International is still a strong and important organization – now celebrating 30 years of international cooperation!
Through the years, I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Samhall employees. In speaking with them, I have come to understand that to many, their work is really much more than a job: It is about purpose, participation and, most importantly, inclusion.
Inclusion brings people together. Inclusion builds our societies stronger and more sustainable.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Lead the way”. Yes – we need to lead the way. And I believe inclusion is the way to lead.
Ladies and gentlemen: Together, you represent 25 different countries from all over the world, making this conference a truly international one. Your efforts make a difference for millions of people with disabilities.
I hope that the coming days here in Stockholm will be an opportunity for all of you to exchange ideas and best practices, to find inspiration, and to make new connections.
I wish you the best of luck in your important work. And on behalf of the Workability International and Samhall, I hereby declare the conference officially opened.