(The spoken version shall take precedence)
One month ago, a 200 000-tonne ship became stranded in the Suez canal. One of the world's busiest trade routes was suddenly blocked, leaving hundreds of ships waiting to pass through.
Shortly after, an image appeared in news and social media all over the world. I am guessing most of you have seen it: a seemingly small yellow excavator, hunkered in the shadow of the enormous ship, patiently digging in the sand.
After five days of digging and tugging, the ship was freed – but not until the moon came to the rescue, in the form of a rising tide.
That image has stayed with me since. Despite all our human efforts, in the end, we still depend on nature to help us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Through the years, I have had the great privilege of meeting a number of Nobel laureates. Some of whom I believe are with us right now.
For me and my family, attending the Nobel Prize ceremonies and meeting the laureates is a traditional high point of each year; a cherished light in the Swedish December dark.
The Nobel Prize, instituted by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel at the turn of the 20th century, is widely considered the world's most prestigious award, celebrating those who in the words of the great donor "have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind."
During 120 years, many ground-breaking discoveries and achievements have been awarded.
And still, the Nobel Prize is so much more than an award:
It is an inspiration, and a reminder, to all of us, of the potential of human capacity. Of the transformative power of science and art. And the opportunity of a better future for all.
Esteemed laureates, ladies and gentlemen,
In just a moment, we will hear Professor Carl Folke present the key messages of this meeting's White Paper. I have gotten to know professor Folke personally via the initiative SeaBOS, Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship, and over the years we have had many opportunities to discuss the fascinating dynamic interplay between humankind and the nature that we depend on.
As the white paper points out, we are now at a moment in time where humanity has become the dominant force of change on planet Earth – causing increasing turbulence in our biosphere.
That can be a frightening thought.
However, we can also choose to see it from the opposite angle: humankind is at the steering wheel of our planet. We have science. We have technology. We have an interconnected global economy.
And that means we have a choice.
Esteemed laureates, ladies and gentlemen:
We can stay on the current course – with devastating consequences for the planet that we depend upon. Or we can choose now to take a safer and more resilient path; to turn the ship around, before it is too late.
The choice is ours.
And this is our window of opportunity.