Stockholm +40 23 april 2012
Gunilla Carlsson, Biståndsminister
Öppningsanförande vid Stockholm +40
Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends.
Welcome to Stockholm +40!
The world has changed dramatically over the last 40 years. Globalisation and high economic growth have contributed to increased trade and interconnectivity. During this time more people than ever before have moved out of poverty. This, along with research, increased technological advances and innovations gives us the tools to tackle our common challenges. Together we can manage the global challenges and crises, such as persistent widespread poverty, underemployment, climate change, depletion of biological diversity, threatened ecosystems and food insecurity.
I had the honour to serve on the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability established by the UN Secretary General. Our report 'Resilient People - Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing' states that sustainable development fundamentally depends on all the millions of choices that individuals, businesses and governments make every day and everywhere.
If we want to see real change, we must understand that our common future lies in all those choices. Achieving sustainability is about enabling people, markets and governments to choose a sustainable future.
That's why democratic governance and human rights are so important for sustainable development. Equal rights and opportunities for women and young people are essential if we want to underpin growth, create increased prosperity and sustainability. It is my firm belief that with more transparency and accountability, governments and businesses that pursue sustainable policies and products will be rewarded.
It is a thriving private sector that will be the engine for sustainable and inclusive growth. Creating the right conditions for sustainable investment and innovation is essential, and governments have a pivotal role in setting the right incentives for the market.
As the Swedish government minister responsible for Rio +20, I strive to include the perspectives of the High-level Panel and to contribute to a new and ambitious political engagement for sustainable development in Rio.
Some of the issues I would like to highlight ahead of Rio are access to energy, water and sanitation. These must become a reality for everyone, especially women and children. How these resources are used is decisive for people's health, as well as for agriculture and business development.
More than half of the world's population lives in cities, and urbanisation continues. Cities are where the effects of migration, economic development, social inequality, environmental pollution and climate change are most directly felt. However, I see great possibilities in urbanisation, alongside and in concert with digitalisation and globalisation.
There is evidence of a correlation between urban density and prosperity. And in the cities there is a huge potential to make substantial contributions to a more efficient resource usage. People in cities can organise smarter, have more interaction and lower the carbon footprint. This, however, requires integrated planning and use of energy- and resource-efficient technologies, as well as people's participation, employment and access to health, education and justice.
To achieve sustainable development we need to join forces across policy areas. That is why I am hosting Stockholm +40 together with my colleague Lena Ek, the Swedish Minister for the Environment. Sustainability concerns all policy areas, and the Swedish Government is working in an integrated manner and giving equal weight to the three pillars of social, economic and environmental sustainability.
But not only governments need to cooperate and work across policy areas; we need to reach out to other actors and encourage them to do the same. All actors have to take on their fair share of responsibility to promote sustainable development. Governments have to get better at including businesses and civil society and at working collaboratively in forward-looking partnerships to advance the sustainability agenda.
That is exactly what this conference is about: partnership. We have invited you as representatives of the research community, businesses, civil society and policy-setting organisations. We have especially wanted to include a large number of young people. I am very happy to see all of you here. I know the interest in this conference has been substantial, and it is obvious that people from different groups and different parts of the world share the same goals - to work together for our common future.
Stockholm+40 will give us practical and inspirational examples of how sustainable development can be promoted in the areas of innovation, production and consumption. As I see it, there are three main questions to be discussed:
1. How can we contribute to the development of innovations so that they reach new markets and people living in poverty?
2. How can we encourage businesses to take responsibility for production that stimulates development and growth without harming the environment?
3. How can we contribute to making the world's growing cities suitable for sustainable living?
Over the next few days, we will hear many people share their views and ideas on sustainability. We will hear researchers present facts and theories that can give decision makers an evidence base for policy decisions. We will hear businesses present what they can do and are doing to promote sustainable production of goods and services. And we will listen to the opinions and ideas of young people who are shaping their future.
I am passionate about development. I hope and believe that these two days will present us all with a wide variety of perspectives. I would like to mention two examples of great importance for social, economic and environmental development, namely access to energy and the industrial use of water.
Most households in developing countries depend on kerosene and other unsustainable and expensive fuels. Kerosene is both expensive and harmful to health. Without proper lighting, school children cannot read after dark. Nuru Energy from India is a young company that has come up with a completely new way of recharging lights and other appliances, and is creating a complete business model that involves people at the base of the pyramid in all parts of the value chain. You will meet Nuru Energy and four other entrepreneurs from different corners of the world in the innovation workshop tomorrow afternoon.
An innovative partnership between businesses and organisations is Sweden Textile Water Initiative. A number of Swedish textile and leather companies have joined forces with Stockholm International Water Institute in an initiative aiming for better water use throughout the supply chain. The initiative gathers 32 companies in a learning process with water experts, and together they are developing guidelines for practical use in the supply chain. A pilot project with the IFC resulted in 12 textile factories in Bangladesh reducing their water use by 75 million litres of water and chemicals by 6 million kilos in just one year. Better water use and fewer chemicals also have social impacts, for example on working conditions. You can meet representatives of the Stockholm International Water Institute in the round table session later today.
Over the next couple of days, we will hear many more examples of what is already being done to achieve sustainability. There will also be great debates, hard questions and inspiring answers. I hope that this unique arena, by bringing together so many stakeholders from such different fields, will enable new partnerships to be formed.
As a very wise person said, "There is no planet B". But there is a time to act, and that time is now. Our greatest strength, and our greatest hope, lies in working together. By crossing the artificial divides that have existed between governments, businesses, academia and civil society, we will also be able to cross the threshold into a sustainable and equitable future for all. And I think that today is a great day to take those first steps, together.
Thank you all for coming here.