The Stockholm+40 conference 23 april 2012
Anna-Karin Hatt, It- och energiminister
Innovation for a sustainable future
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It is an honor and exciting to have the opportunity to participate in this discussion on the topic of Innovation for a sustainable future.
Because this is an important discussion. Innovation is essential for tackling the challenges our global society is facing.
The greatest challenge of our time is the climate change. According to the International Energy Agency we are on a steady path to an average rise of our global temperature of 3 degrees Centigrade. Our possibilities to reach the 2 degrees target are becoming more and more limited.
The climate crisis must be met with action and with solutions, not only with words. And we know that the longer we wait, the more will it cost to make the changes needed to avoid the negative impacts of climate change.
As decision makers we have a responsibility to lead the way. That is why the current economic crisis never can be held as an excuse for not taking the actions needed to tackle the challenge of climate change.
One of the few things we as politicians really can know for sure is that our time in decision making positions is limited. We might be trusted that responsibility for a long time, or for a more limited one. But we know that it is limited, it is, my friends, our responsibility to do the best we can, and lead in the way the world needs, whilst we have that possibility.
And the good news is that there is hope. Because history has shown - over and over again - that major challenges also bring great opportunities. That challenges also can be a driving force for change.
To be able to change we need innovation. Because innovation is key to economic growth and success, and essential to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and stop climate change. With new innovations we can meet new demands for a more sustainable future. Innovation really is the path to a sustainable future.
So we need to encourage innovation, and establish the very best conditions and provide the right tools to release the power to innovate that lies within us all. Our nations, our businesses and our citizens all need to get a little bit more of that sense of "we can do, and we will do". A little bit more of that spirit that we had in the past. Now is really the time to kindle that sense within each and every one of us.
We need to develop legislative frameworks, we need to emphasize challenge driven R&D policies, we need to change norms and attitudes so that they influence and inspire people, enterprises and organisations to transform ideas into solutions, and into innovations.
That is why the Swedish government is supporting innovations for a sustainable future. Right now we are drafting a strategy for increasing the innovation capacity in our economy. And last year we launched a strategy for boosting environmental technology for innovation, growth and export.
The need for a boost in innovation for sustainability in poor countries is an issue that needs to be given more attention. The Stockholm+40 conference and the Rio+20 are important fora to vitalise this debate.
We have, in our global society, urgent societal challenges to address for a more sustainable future. Increased urbanisation puts pressure on finding new solutions for a more sustainable living. This development stresses the need of a more holistic approach to manage transportation, infrastructure, energy solutions, waste treatment and living standards.
But all these challenges also means new opportunities. Opportunities for innovators and new entrepreneurs to address the challenges ahead with new solutions. The needs of sustainable solutions will be worldwide, but the solutions will differ, as they will have to address the local circumstances.
Clean energy will mean different things in the growing megacities and in the countryside. The energy needs will differ from Europe to South East Asia. But the need for sustainable solutions will be the same.
My friends, our common challenge is clear. As clear as it could be. And we all have a stake in its solution.
A stake in how to mitigate climate change.
In how to adapt to new circumstances.
In how to find those solutions that could make it possible for us to combine future growth and development with a sustainable development.
As entrepreneurs, as citizens and as policy-makers we are all needed if we shall be able to move towards a sustainable society,
I am convinced that the future will reward those of us that have the courage to take lead in this development.