2019-10-10

HRH Crown Princess Victoria's speech at Arctic Circle Assembly, Reykjavik, Iceland, Thursday 10 October 2019

(The spoken version shall take precedence)

Prime ministers,
Ministers,
Your Excellences,
Distinguished guests,
Friends of the Arctic.

Before I left for Reykjavik, I went into the Bernadotte library, our family library at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

The library contains some 100 000 books collected by my ancestors, and was founded by King Oscar II - my grandfather’s grandfather’s father.

His own collection of books and photographs clearly reflects his enthusiasm for Arctic research and exploration in the last decades of the 19th century.

Among the projects he sponsored were Nordenskiöld’s explorations to the Russian Arctic and Greenland, and Fritjof Nansen’s Polar journey on the ship Fram.

King Oscar died in 1907. 101 years later, in June 2008, I found myself on board the large Swedish icebreaker Oden, named after the Norse god.

Together with me were Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. The three of us are not only “colleagues” but also family. And all three of us descend from King Oscar II!

Together, we spent four days in Svalbard on board the research vessel. We visited different sites and learned from the scientists about the worrying development in the Arctic.

Up on the Zeppelin Mountain in Ny-Ålesund, we saw how forest fires in Siberia had caused a measurable increase of temperature and air pollution in Svalbard - more than 2000 kilometres away.

The next year we boarded the Danish patrol vessel Ejnar Mikkelsen, to study the impact of climate change on Greenland and the people living there.

I believe all three of us at this time were already quite aware of the dangerous effects of climate change. However, seeing it for myself and talking to those directly affected was a strong emotional experience.

It opened my eyes to the complexity and the global nature of these issues; how melting glaciers in the Arctic affect people, animals and plants in places as far away as Zanzibar, Tuvalu and Bangladesh.

Yes, the Arctic is a global issue, demanding global action. And indeed, as I look out over this hall, I see delegates from all over the world.

Your Excellency, Mister Grimson: I commend you for your efforts in bringing together world- and business leaders, scientists and other stakeholders here at the Arctic Circle Assembly.

There is clearly increased attention for what is happening in the Arctic.

Last week, Sweden together with the European Union hosted the first EU Arctic Forum, in Umeå in the Swedish part of the Arctic. Its overarching purpose was to bring the EU to the Arctic and the Arctic to the EU.

Over the course of the Forum, I noticed a striking shift in language. In the morning, we were all discussing “climate change”. But before noon, most speakers were instead using the term “climate crisis”.

I think that says a great deal about the gravity of the current situation. And I welcome the ambition of the European Union to take on a greater responsibility for the future of the Arctic.

Ladies and gentlemen. One more thing I realized from travelling to the Arctic was that science has an absolutely critical role to play.

The Nordic countries are at the forefront of Arctic research and rank high on innovation. We also have a strong tradition of cooperation.

I believe that we in the Nordic family - Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden - are in an excellent position to contribute with the best of our knowledge, ideas and new solutions.

It is my hope that the Nordic countries together can be a driving force for a sustainable and peaceful development in the Arctic region.

Coming generations may not have a voice or a vote. At least not yet. But we owe them to make the right decisions, to base those decisions on solid knowledge – and, above all, to act accordingly.

I am quite sure that the Arctic enthusiast King Oscar would agree. And that his namesake, my 3 year old son, Prince Oscar, expects nothing less.

Thank you.