Toespraak van Prinses Máxima tijdens symposium 10 jaar Prins Claus Leerstoel te Den Haag

28 november 2012

De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.

 Your Majesty, Your Excellency, dear chair holders, fellow members of the Curatorium (past and present), finalists in the Cheetah Challenge, ladies and gentlemen,

As Chair of the Curatorium, I would like to thank you all for joining us on this special day, the tenth anniversary of the Prince Claus Chair for Development and Equity. And of course I would like to thank Her Majesty for hosting us here today at her Palace. It is with great pleasure that I extend a warm welcome to the Prince Claus chair holders, all of whom are here today. I know that many of you have travelled a long distance to be with us this afternoon. It is really splendid to see the ten chair holders of the first decade sitting in the front row. The eleventh holder, Professor Kuentay, has only recently been appointed and hasn't even had a chance to do her inaugural lecture! She will lead us into the second decade of our work on development and equity.

The Prince Claus Chair was established in 2002 by Utrecht University and ISS (now part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam) to honour my late father-in-law out of deep respect and appreciation for him as a person, for his work, and for his commitment to the field of development and equity throughout the world.

Over the past decade, my fellow Curatorium members and I have tried to ensure diversity amongst the chair holders. In terms of gender, region and in terms of research themes. And I think we have succeeded. A quick glance at the front row or at the booklet on your chairs will suffice to demonstrate this. All of our chair holders were at an early point in their careers when they were appointed. And all of them, each in their own way, have built lasting bridges between The Netherlands and the regions from where they come.

The list of the research interests they explored whilst holding the Prince Claus chair is long and varied. Each individual has added a unique dimension to our theme of development and equity.  They have covered issues such as:

  • the economics of conflict;
  • the examination of the challenges inspiring and constraining intellectual development in Africa;
  • an exploration of the struggle of indigenous peoples in the Americas;
  • the politics of security in relation to inequality;
  • a contextualization of the concept of good governance in relation to developing regions;
  • a study of war, reconciliation and citizenship in Mozambique;
  • an insightful analysis of the reasons behind failures in health systems in Africa;
  • a study of the contribution that corporate social responsibility can make to development and equity;
  • a study of climate change in relation to social justice and sustainable development; and,
  • an experiment designed to help policy-makers learn lessons about how to scale up policy reforms which will improve children's health.

This is a list of which we can be proud of and for which sincere thanks are due to our chair holders.

The current chair holder, not yet in the booklet as she has only just commenced her work, is an expert in language development of young children. There are clear opportunities for many to benefit from the expertise she has brought with her. I have encouraged her, for example, to look into ways of stimulating Dutch children of Turkish origin to develop the strong language skills they need in order to be successful. So this goes beyond the developing world, as it is about equal chances here in the Netherlands too.

All of our chair holders have a story to tell about what motivated them to follow an academic career. And all of them have a strong personal connection and commitment to the theme of development and equity. By development, I mean here what my father-in-law described as ''enabling people to direct their energies within their own cultural context to bring about change, in the belief that this is in their own interests''. I also believe, as he did, that ''it is impossible to 'develop' another person or country from outside: people develop themselves, and so do countries. All that we can do is assist that process if asked to do so and then in a particular context or socio-cultural environment''.

In my role as United Nations Secretary General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, I am privileged to visit diverse countries, talk with many different people, and bring stakeholders together in the pursuit of development. Putting financial products at the service of lower income families and enterprises does make a real difference to lives, livelihoods and welfare-and to whole communities. I see this time and again. I find it particularly thrilling that so many innovations that are changing the landscape emanate from developing countries. This again demonstrates us that development happens from the inside. Something our chair holders have made very clear to us over the past decade.

I look forward to the next ten years of the Prince Claus Chair with the confidence that we will continue to succeed in identifying talented young scientists who have both the ability and the aspiration to make a difference. The network of eleven talented and diverse individuals from all around the globe will continue to flourish. New chair holders of equal talent and excellence will be added to their number.

Central to today's symposium is the question: 'What have you done in your work to enrich equity theory?'  I am confident that the answers our chair holders have given to this key question will be a means of helping us all to deepen the concept of equity. So that we can place it firmly in the context of today´s world and connect it with today´s challenges.

Finally, let me thank all of you here today for your interest in the work of the Prince Claus Chair. Almost every Dutch university is here present and this gives me great satisfaction as one of our goals is to strongly embed the Prince Claus Chair in Dutch Academia.

I hope you find ways to include this theme in your university mission and wish us all an inspiring afternoon. And again, thank you for joining us in celebrating the legacy of Prince Claus.

Thank you.