(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Current scientific scenarios predict that we have to face significant transformations due to Climate Change in the entire arctic and subarctic region. Climate change is a global concern, at the same time as the effects will be felt and dealt with at a local level. They must therefore be addressed also in that context.
I have had the privilege of travelling and pay visits to many places in the North. I think I share with many of you the fascination and appreciation of the people and the wonderful nature of the Arctic. Jokkmokk is strictly speaking not Arctic but rather subarctic.
However, this region between the more extreme high Arctic environment and the temperate zone, is in many respects a key to our stewardship and understanding of living conditions and human interaction with our environment.
It is a vulnerable region where climate change will have strong and early impacts. An increased use of renewable energies and a more efficient use of energy is vital! Greater awareness has also the potential to stimulate regional development.
Jokkmokk Winter Conference has a strong focus to raise awareness on climate change, energy and sustainable development in a regional context. I am told that one of the main targets of this Conference is to build a platform for young people in the Region of Nordkalotten and to stimulate transnational activities and cooperation between different actors.
At the research station in Abisko north of here I have learnt from the scientists the dramatic effects on permafrost, vegetation and hence the whole ecosystem and on people who are dependent on nature for their living, such as reindeer herding.
The research and monitoring done at Abisko over long time (more than 100 years) is important and moreover it calls for a close collaboration with similar efforts in other places around the Arctic.
This is a moment for all of us to improve the understanding of the situation in the Arctic region and to make way for a sustainable development.
Sweden has no coast bordering to the Arctic, but our experiences from our own ice covered waters along the Norrbotten coast in the winter make us well equipped for contributions to studies and activities in the high Arctic. Our modern icebreaker Oden (which is by the way in Antarctica at the moment) is a good example of Swedish knowhow in this is context.
I was together with my colleagues Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark travelling on Oden and also visiting Svalbard and Greenland. We all share a common interest for the environment, climate and the future of the Arctic.
I am convinced that meetings like this are of utmost importance, but what is really needed is for us as individuals to take action, and to live with greater awareness and to bring sustainability into our everyday life.
We, as representatives of the Nordic countries, ought to be committed to reach out to the young people and to stimulate their engagement in these important issues.
It is a great pleasure for me to be present here today and to listen to young people forwarding issues and questions to the decision-makers of today. This kind of dialogue is an important instrument to move the issues forward.
Good luck in your deliberations.