(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Mr. President, First Lady,
Mr. Prime Minister, Excellences, Laureates,
Ladies and Gentlemen
This evening marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of World Water Week and the Stockholm Water Prize. It is an honour to be here to celebrate it.
Water is fundamental to all development. But development also puts great pressure on our water resources. Every day, more than one thousand four hundred children die from a lack of clean water. Farmers suffer massive economic losses due to drought. Entire coastal ecosystems are threatened by the overfeeding of the seas.
Water issues affect us in different ways, depending on where we live and what resources we have. Ultimately they are a matter of survival — for all of us.
The situation is urgent. But it is far from hopeless. There are many possible ways to change the state of affairs for the better. Let me mention just one example:
I recently had the opportunity to visit Ruskträskbäcken, a beautiful stream in Lycksele in the north of Sweden. The stream has been restored following the negative effects of log driving, and new fishing rules have been introduced. As a result of these actions, the fish have returned and Ruskträskbäcken is now a popular site for sustainable fishing. It offers opportunities to share ideas and experiences that solve water problems and create job.
It was an interesting and inspiring visit in many ways — not least as I myself caught some beautiful graylings there!
Ruskträskbäcken serves as an example that, while water problems are global, the solutions are often local. This is why World Water Week and the Stockholm Water Prize are so important.
I would like once again to congratulate this year’s Laureate, Mr Rajendra Singh – also known as the Water Man of India. Through rainwater harvesting, Mr Singh has revived several rivers and brought water back to one thousand villages in India.
Mr Singh's work also reminds us that today’s water problems cannot be solved by science alone. Technological innovation is crucial. But to achieve lasting change, we also need wise leadership.
This year’s theme for World Water Week is ‘Water for Development’. The theme was chosen because 2015 will, in many ways, shape the next 25 years of our
existence. With the Sustainable Development Goals and a climate agreement on the agenda, it is time to make the right decisions!
I would like to thank the President of Stockholm City Council for hosting this banquet tonight, as well as Stockholm International Water Institute for organising World Water Week.
Let us raise our glasses to 25 years of great achievements and to many more to come.