Toespraak van de Prins van Oranje tijdens het Wetenschap & Technologie seminar 'Biobased Economy' te São Paulo

21 november 2012

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

Mr Vice-President, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In my family history, there is probably only one distant relative who is much better known in Brazil than in my own country. He reached the new world almost 400 years ago, and built the Cidade Maurícia, now known as Recife. His name was Johan Maurits - Maurício - van Nassau; also known as 'the Brazilian'.

For an army commander working for a trading company, Maurício was a remarkably benevolent ruler. His main aim was undoubtedly to secure the colony and to foster the sugar economy. But he is best remembered for his liberal views and his patronage of the arts and sciences.

Thanks to his protection, Marcgraf and Piso were able to publish their authoritative Historiae Naturalis Brasiliae. Artists recorded the landscapes, the people and the flora and fauna of Northern Brazil. Scientists were given the chance to explore new paths in natural history, medicine and astronomy.

Mauricio's motto was Qua Patet Orbis: 'As far as the world extends'. In his case, this was not just the motto of a cosmopolitan adventurer. It also hints at his belief in the boundless potential of the arts and sciences to foster human progress.

Today, this vision is as relevant as ever. In an increasingly complex world, international cooperation in science and technology is crucial for the global challenges ahead.

When world leaders met at Rio+20 in Brazil earlier this year, they once again underlined the fact that we live in a world of increasing consumption and limited resources. What's more, adapting to the effects of climate change is an economic and social necessity we cannot avoid. Green growth is the only sustainable way forward.

We will have to consume less, to recycle more and to develop alternatives to our current resources. And science and technology are main instruments to achieve this.

This is especially true of the three main prerequisites for human life: water, food and energy. As these grow scarcer, we have less room for manoeuvre. As a result, these three key resources are becoming more intertwined.

Water, food and energy form three sides of a triangle, with politics and emotion at the centre. The links between the three are growing stronger and stronger. Decision-makers who deny this do so at their peril. Because no single actor knows how to prevent or accommodate these shortages.

So making connections is the key to achieving green growth. Connections between economic development and a clean environment. Between food security and water management. Between energy security and energy conservation. Between prosperity and well-being. Between people and their habitats.

And, indeed, between insights and perspectives in different corners of the world. Global problems need global answers. The bold solutions our societies and economies need can't be found in isolation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our vision is a future society that no longer wholly depends on fossil fuels for energy and industrial raw materials. Where limited resources are used and reused to the max. Where biomass is increasingly used for energy, new materials, chemicals and transport fuels. Where urban mining - the recovery of essential materials from waste streams - is self-evident. In short: a bio-based economy.

The transformation towards a bio-based economy is imperative to sustain life and development on this busy planet. But it also offers great opportunities for business and industry. And it opens up new horizons for science and technology worldwide.

But we need to have the courage to move forward together. To make connections. With an open and creative mind. Because it is often the most unexpected combinations that help us forward.

In the Netherlands, a small but well-organised high-tech country, joining forces between sectors is in our DNA. When it comes to innovation, we promote close partnerships between the public sector, businesses and knowledge institutions: the 'golden triangle'.

In doing so, we focus on nine sectors in which we believe our country excels.
Water, energy and life sciences.
High-tech, chemicals and horticulture.
Agri-food, logistics and the creative industry.

In these sectors, we have developed a leading position in the world. Supported by a knowledge base created over centuries. 

To many Brazilians, it may come as a surprise that my country, 200 times smaller than Brazil, is actually the world's second-biggest agricultural exporter. Thanks to the power of constant innovation.

It is this very same innovative power in specific sectors that made us a world leader in the trade and certification of sustainable biomass. And in the development of bio-based performance materials. We've developed expertise that's crucial to the bio-based economy.

Brazil is now the sixth-largest economy in the world, and growing. It plays a major role in feeding the world, and we are one of the biggest importers of your agricultural products.

When it comes to science and technology, you are achieving great things in agriculture, biochemistry, bio-energy and life sciences. Areas in which the Netherlands also excels. I am sure Brazil and the Netherlands have great joint potential!

And that is exactly why we are here. Together with over 175 top companies and research institutions. To see how we can learn and grow together. And jointly work towards a bio-based economy and green growth.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is not 'just' an official Royal visit. We mean business. We have brought the business leaders to prove it. And we have designed our programme to support them.

I am happy to note that this approach works. It's producing contracts and cooperation between Brazilian and Dutch partners. We want our partnerships to be as practical and concrete as possible. And we are extremely grateful to FIESP for your hospitality and support.

Mr Ometto, in a few moments, you and I will proudly witness the signing of important cooperation agreements at all levels.

The responsible Brazilian and Dutch ministries will intensify research cooperation. 

On a very concrete level, BTG Liquids and IPT will commit themselves to very close cooperation on pyrolysis technology. And we have the partnerships between Delft University of Technology, UNICAMP (the University of Campinas) and BE-Basic on bio-based innovation. I am happy to see that FIESP-COMBIO is also involved. And fully committed.

In Campinas, we also plan to open an international office of Delft University and BE-basic, a leading consortium of Dutch companies and universities with a budget of over half a billion Brazilian reais. They develop novel products and processes in the field of sustainable chemistry and ecology, from lab to pilot plant scale. From Campinas, they can start new, productive partnerships extending throughout Brazil.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you see, we should not be afraid to think big. The global challenges are huge. But so are the opportunities for business. And the need for innovation. For joint ventures. So let's keep in mind the motto of Maurício de Nassau: As far as the world extends!