Dear Swedes, at home and abroad. Everyone in Sweden!
These words are key for me. They are sometimes used to describe good leadership. But I think they can be good watchword for all of us. Especially in times of great challenges.
According to researchers, 2016 looks set to be the hottest year ever recorded. The temperature in the oceans and on land continues to rise. During the past year, we have seen how extreme weather events can cause great losses around the world, economic, but more importantly the loss of human life.
Changes in climate affect us: our ability to get food and clean water, to feed us and ultimately protect life and property. People's lives are connected with how we take care of our environment.
Here in Sweden, we are privileged to have access to clean water straight from the tap. Often we probably don't even not think about it. We see it as self-evident. The global water shortage is felt in other far off places. But it concerns us all. After a dry summer and autumn we have unusually low levels of groundwater. This has led to water shortages in many parts of Sweden. Among other places, Oland - where last summer they had to drive tanker trucks with water from the mainland.
[Oland is one of Sweden's big islands]
This creates a difficult situation for many, especially for farmers. It is also an important reminder of how dependent we are on clean water. The Royal Family is deeply committed to water issues. And I am especially pleased that Crown Princess Victoria has chosen to focus on marine and water issues in her role as ambassador for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. [Also known as 2030 Agenda.]
Climate change and other environmental problems do not know national boundaries. What happens on the other side of the world affects us and vice versa. That is why the climate agreement reached in Paris last year is so important. [Referring again to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.] To reverse the trend, we must cooperate.
Protecting the environment is not just a question of ethics. But about survival.
Sweden is a country of forests. Forests are a great resource that covers more than half of our country's surface. The productive forest land equivalent to more than three football fields per inhabitant. The forest is an important industry, but also a popular place for recreation. There are many who feel a special peace and joy when we get the opportunity to go out for a few hours in a quiet and beautiful forest.
Forestry has a long tradition in our country. For many generations, we have built up valuable knowledge about how we can take advantage of the opportunities provided by the forests. During the year I have visited several activities based on the expertise and who contribute in different ways to sustainable development.
This summer I was in Scania to open the MAX IV Laboratory. It will attract researchers from all over the world. One of the many exciting projects is just about developing new materials using raw materials from the Swedish forest. The development also means that change. In Ångermanland, I visited, for example, a former pulp mill. It had been converted into a modern facility for manufacturing including biofuels. And in Vasterbotten, I gained an insight into the research being done on forest-environment.
Swedish research and technology expertise are key assets, both for the environment and as a basis for Sweden's future prosperity. During the year the Queen and I made three state visits - two outgoing and incoming. The contrast was great: from our visit to the tiny kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas to the populous Germany, Sweden's biggest trading partner. And also the visit from Chile, a country that is far away, but with whom Sweden has close ties. One thing has been in common on all these visits and that is the interest in sustainability, climate and environment. There are issues where we have much to learn from each other.
State visits helps to create dialogue and exchange of knowledge between Sweden and other countries. I see this as an important part of the mission as Sweden's head of state. In a few days, Sweden will take place in the UN Security Council. It will be an important forum in the coming years. I am convinced that our country will be a positive force for peace and security. Sweden needed! Acts of terrorism, armed conflict and uncertainty. We live in troubled times. What is this world really headed? It is a question I have asked myself many times in the past year. And I do not think I'm alone.
The news never stops up. It can be difficult to take in everything. The most difficult thing is the pictures and the stories of how children fare badly. The work for children's rights today seems more important position than ever. One can feel anxiety about the future. But we should not let fear govern our everyday lives. We all have a responsibility to act as role models for our children and young people. Again, we must show courage, thoughtfulness and decisiveness. Courage to stand up for what is right. Care for each other. And action to intervene when someone needs help.
The Queen and I recently attended an ecumenical service held when Pope Francis visited Sweden. [Ecumenical Services is a service that brings together people of different denominations of Christianity.] The cathedral in Lund gathered Catholics and Protestants together to draw attention to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
At this historic meeting, it was agreed to put the Christian faith in front of the division. To focus on what we have in common rather than the differences. Such steps towards reconciliation offers hope for the future! When I look back on the past year, I feel - also on a personal level - much gratitude.
Our family has been extended with two new little princes. [Prince Oscar, March 2nd, & Prince Alexander, April 19th] The Queen and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this summer. And in connection with my 70th birthday last spring, I received many greetings and best wishes. I want to thank you for the warmth and care that we encounter. It means a lot to me and my family. I would like in this context also send a special greeting to all Swedish men and women who now find themselves far from home in various international missions of peace and security. To you I say: Thank you for your important work! You and your families are making great personal sacrifices, not least a weekend like this. It is worth our respect and gratitude.
2016 is about to end. Sometime early next year, Sweden will have it's ten millionth inhabitant. It can be a person who is an immigrant, or returning home after a long time abroad. It could be a child born anywhere in our country. Regardless, he or she will be a part of our common future. For this person, I would say: Welcome! I wish you all the best! To end, Me and my family wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2017.
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