(The spoken version shall take precedence)
“I want to be teacher.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
“I want to make my family proud.”
“I want to see my family again.”
An autumn day in 2015, Prince Daniel and I visited a center for unaccompanied migrant children in Nacka, just outside of Stockholm. They were teenagers who had fled war and conflict in their home countries to seek refuge in Sweden.
Their futures were uncertain. But their dreams and goals were crystal clear.
Meeting these young people, and so many others in the same situation, hearing them speak about their hopes for the future; it made a deep impression.
Because what is the purpose of children’s rights, if not this? A child being able to dream and to pursue that dream. A child daring to hope for a better future.
Dreams may not be tangible. They cannot be measured or accounted for. But the things that make dreams possible, most certainly are:
The right to an education.
The right to grow up in a healthy environment.
The right for girls and boys to be treated equally.
A little more than two years ago, the United Nations’ then Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed me as an advocate to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These seventeen goals, often referred to as the Global Goals, aim to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change.
I was honoured to accept this important role. And I am grateful for the opportunities it has given me to deepen my engagement in the challenges we all face.
During these two years, one thing has become increasingly clear to me: Children’s rights are not just part of the global goals. No: children’s rights are what the Global Goals are all about.
Goal number one, no poverty, is for the child who is married off because her parents can’t afford to say no.
Goal number 6, clean water and sanitation, is for the child who doesn’t get to go to school because she spends all day fetching water for her family.
Goal number 16, peace, justice and strong institutions, is for all the children whose childhoods are taken away from them by violence and persecution.
I could go on. But I think you see my point: that all Global Goals are, in fact, children’s rights goals. And the only way to successfully achieve one of them is by working on the others as well, they are all connected.
Ladies and gentlemen: I would like to thank you all for being here today and for taking an active part in today’s Forum. The positive examples highlighted here today are an important inspiration for the work that lies ahead.
I am especially glad that this Forum has chosen to bring the children into the conversation. After all, it is their future that we are here to change. And not just their future, but their lives here and now.
A special thank you to Fauza and Ruth for coming all the way to Stockholm to remind us what we are working for: a world where children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. A world where every child dares to dream.