(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Your Royal Highness,
Delegates and guests,
It is a great privilege and pleasure for me to welcome you to Sweden for a few days of dialogue and exchange of ideas across geographic, cultural and religious borders.
We have all travelled here, through the beautiful landscape of Dalecarlia with its green forests, blue lakes, and flowing mountain ranges. This environment, for one, could serve as a reminder that it has been lent to us by our forefathers and that it is now up to us to hand it over in a responsible way to coming generations.
The love of nature and concern about its future have come natural to me ever since my childhood. My Father taught me what richness our environment can offer. Summer holidays on the island of Öland and winter vacations in the province of Jämtland are among my most treasured memories.
“How on Earth can we live together?" is the theme of this Forum. It is indeed a challenging one. We are now almost daily confronted with alarming reports on greenhouse emissions, climate change, pollution and deforestatation and other natural disasters. These issues have rapidly advanced to the top of the agenda in world affairs. They are truly global in scope.
The Stern report and the UN report on Climate Change, have dramatized the urgency of the matter. The time to act is now. But the Stern report also strikes an optimistic note. It is not too late to act and the costs for taking the necessary action are not insurmountable.
Our meeting here in Tällberg permits us to address some of these very important issues in a relaxed athmosphere. I am sure that you all agree that our hosts have provided us with an agenda and a setting which are both attractive and challenging.
I have come here to listen and to learn. I have come here because I believe that it is in the cross cultural dialogue that we can find the ways and means to take concerted action to save our planet.
I sincerely hope you will join me in opening our minds and hearts to receiving but also to giving. There is so much at stake!
Once again: a warm welcome to Sweden..