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Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear finalists for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize,
This past half year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, I have spent a lot of time reminding my children to wash their hands.
At the same time, around the world, 785 million people do not have access to clean water. Nor are 3 billion people able to wash their hands with soap and water.
This is just one example of how access to water is brutally unequal.
Indeed, when it comes to water, we as a world face some major challenges:
There may be too little water, too dirty, or too much – all causes of disease, poverty and conflict.
Over the years, as patron of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, I have had the privilege of meeting many young finalists and winners from all over the world.
I always cherish those meetings, because they fill me with hope. Hope, that when bright young minds come together, even the most complicated problems can be solved.
And I am not at all surprised that many ideas that started as Stockholm Junior Water Prize projects have proved to be important innovations, changing many lives for the better.
I am indeed a very proud patron.
Dear finalists. I have taken part of your projects online – and I hope everyone listening now have, too. Your passion for water and science is an inspiration to us all, and I really wish I could see all of you face to face here in Stockholm.
As we all know, meeting each other in person is not an option right now. Still, I am grateful that technology allows us to meet digitally. And that so many countries have been able to hold their national competitions, despite the current circumstances.
Dear finalists: As participants in Stockholm Junior Water Prize, you set an example to the rest of the world.
You prove that you can never be too young to make an impact and a real difference.
So please – continue to be the role models that you are, inspiring boys and girls all over the world to pursue their dreams.
I want to wish all of you the best of luck. And I look forward to seeing your names among the laureates and leaders of the future.
And now, it is my honour to announce the winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Award 2020.
The winners are… Japan!