Toespraak van de Prins van Oranje tijdens de Trilateral Commission in Den Haag
De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.
Mr Chairman, Royal Highnesses, excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Last May I was in Greenland, one of the most fascinating places on earth.
I was there at the invitation of the World Wide Fund for Nature, with a select group of scientists and entrepreneurs. The aim of the expedition was to get an idea of the changes and challenges facing Greenland and the Arctic. And to explore possible responses to them, together with local people.
The mission was given the name 'Sila'. In the language of the Inuits, this means 'the force of life'. Sila refers to the elements, to weather and nature, but also to people's inner lives.
Have you ever been to Greenland? I can recommend a visit. But if you go, do it properly. Go trekking, with good boots, hauling your belongings on a sledge. And sleep in a tent, in the freezing cold. Descend into a glacier crevasse and be enchanted by the magical blue light. But above all, listen to what the people you meet along the way have to tell you.
I still don't know whether the Inuit really have a hundred different words for snow. But love for their country, for the Arctic and for their way of living shines through everything they say.
Apart from words, I also listened carefully to nature. Because in Greenland nature talks. Nature determines how far mankind can go. Nowhere else in the world is that as clear as in the Arctic. Lying in your tent you can hear the ice groaning - a sign that somewhere nearby a piece is breaking off.
The iceberg that sank the Titanic nearly 100 years ago had broken off from one of Greenland's glaciers. Nowadays that process, the ice calving, has speeded up. In the past few years, the melting rate has about doubled: more than was forecast in the IPCC's last report. In the past ten years, the same glacier, the Ilulisat glacier, has doubled its rate of retreat. It is now retreating at the rate of six kilometres a year. That is 70 centimetres every hour!
Greenlands icecap is melting. That is having a great impact on nature and on the population. People can no longer live from traditional hunting and fishing. Farming, up to now hardly an option, is becoming possible in the south, leading to paradigm shifts which are hardly possible to absorb within one generation.
It were those hunters and fishermen that have been living in the harshest possible environment for thousands of years that first started noticing serious changes in the environment as early as the nineties. They couldn't explain them, they certainly did not contribute to them, but they noticed them and realised it was serious and a grave threat to their very existence.
We are feeling the consequences in the rest of Europe, too. Melting ice caps are causing sea level to rise - affecting our coasts and low-lying deltas, exactly where we live and work.
However much debate there may be on the causes and pace of climate change, and the feasibility of reducing CO2 emissions, one thing is clear: adaption to the effects of climate change is an economic and social necessity we cannot avoid.
So, is the news all bad? No, not at all.
Melting ice also presents new opportunities for the people of Greenland. Opportunities they want to seize. A new Arctic ocean is forming. There will be new shipping routes. And mining companies are looking eagerly at the potentially enormous Arctic reserves; oil and gas in particular. We, the energy addicts, are potentially looking at decades if not centuries more of fossil fuel reserves to satisfy our addiction. And the Inuits see their chance to develop and emancipate their population and see themselves being catapulted from the iceage to the 21st century.
But imagine something going wrong in this vulnerable area. An oilspil like the one we witnessed in the Gulf would be an unmitigated disaster. So nature conservation organisations are highly concerned about plans to exploit reserves of fossil fuels.
You could say that Greenland is caught between a rock and a hard place, caught between the major oil companies and the environmental active NGOs. Trapped between those with annual budgets way exceeding anything the Greenland government could even dream of, unless of course we help them carefully develop and explore their vast natural resources in a sustainable way.
In fact, we are all trapped. These insidious processes are affecting Greenland sooner and more visibly than elsewhere. But the whole world faces an increasing shortage of the three prerequisites for human life: water, food and energy. And the three are becoming more and more closely linked.
Water, food and energy form the three sides of a triangle, with politics and emotions at the centre. The linkages between the three are becoming tighter and tighter. Decision-makers who deny this are taking a great risk. Because no single actor has the solution to prevent or accommodate these shortages.
There are many places where climate change, food security and energy security meet.
For example, half of the cost of providing water must be attributed to energy costs. Significant quantities of water are needed to generate hydropower, and as cooling for thermal power. And the production of bio-fuels is now beginning to compete with agriculture for the use of water.
As chair of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), I look at these issues through a watery lens. Water is essential to life, and is the lifeblood of farmers. It has long been taken for granted. But not any longer. Water is becoming scarcer. Demand is rising. More land is turning to desert, and droughts are becoming more severe. The prospect of conflict over scarce water looms large.
At the same time, elsewhere in the world, flooding is taking a heavy toll on lives and livelihoods. The Bangkok floods have been on our tv screens for many weeks already. And we face the challenge of coping with water stress. We need stronger governance, and integrated water resource management.
The fact is that three-quarters of the world's water is used by farmers. Industry uses less than a fifth. Domestic and municipal use is a mere tenth. The water crisis is therefore primarily an agricultural crisis. Put simply, this means that we have to change the way we produce our food. The world population is growing, and is concentrating in urban areas. Diets, especially in Asia, are changing. A kilogramme of meat takes 16 times more water to produce than a kilogramme of wheat. Water withdrawals for energy production are also on the rise. We are facing a world with fewer crops and less water, one that is vulnerable to climate change in ever-changing ways.
It is time for action. Agriculture must become more water efficient. We need to grow more food with less water, and treat the water we use so that it can be used again. By revolutionising our approach to waste water, we can help create a food-secure future. There is no such thing as waste water, only water wasted.
In this complex, rapidly changing world, it is a great temptation for countries like Greenland to exploit their oil and gas reserves as fast as they can. Who can blame them? And don't Greenland's 56,000 inhabitants deserve it? Can we deny them the right to economic development in the 21st century?
Ladies and gentlemen, there are no simple answers. So we need to be extremely creative. According to the late Steve Jobs, 'Creativity is just connecting things'.
At this time when Europe is faced with financial, economic and debt crises, we might think that we have enough problems of our own. Also, people might have the impression that Europe is being pushed off the world stage. We need to forcefully contest such views. Europe represents a quarter of the world economy. Europe is taking the lead in addressing and tackling global issues, like climate change. Europe remains a main supplier of ideas in all fields that are of importance to the future of the world.
The world needs Europe. We have every reason for self-confidence. Our great strength is connecting things. For Steve Jobs, the essence of creativity.
That particular strength will be direly needed during Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held in Brazil next June. Making connections will be key to the conference. Connections between economic development and a clean environment. Between food security and water management. Between energy security and energy conservation. Between prosperity and wellbeing. Between people and their habitats.
Rio+20 will focus on the greening of the global economy and ensuring quality of life for the people of the world, today and tomorrow. If we fail, we will have much more than 'just' financial, economic and debt crises at our hands…
Green growth can only be achieved if we have the courage to move forward together. With an open and creative mind. Because it is often the unexpected combinations that help us on our way.
I experienced this very mindset when I was in Greenland. Citizens, scientists and nature conservationists are increasingly working together there. Along with multinationals, government and NGOs. To map out their difficult path to the future. With the help of Sila, that Inuit force that drives life..
In the Netherlands, such a holistic approach involving all stakeholders is part of our DNA. Not always quick, not always easy. But often the only effective way to combine technology and social engineering when it really matters. And with water, food and energy, it really matters.
Creative initiatives can often be found in unexpected places. I hope that your visit to the Netherlands will give you new ideas. Because we need new ideas and new connections to use our scarce resources in a way that is equitable, efficient and sustainable. Because we care about the future of our planet and our people.