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Why I believe in a brighter future

The challenges we face are made by humans, and they can be solved by humans, The Crown Prince said today. Have faith in what you can achieve, and even more importantly, what you can do together with others. 


“Development and Human Progress: Why I believe in a brighter future” was the title of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon’s lecture at the International Conference on Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York City.

First he took the audience back in time for a brief perspective on everything humankind has achieved up to now, which is a great deal. Despite the impression given by the media, the world has made enormous advances in key areas such as poverty, education, health and life expectancy.

But we are facing great challenges as well. Important examples include climate change, pollution of the oceans, and a steadily growing need for energy. 

So what is it that makes the Crown Prince so optimistic about the future? He explained his outlook in terms of three important aspects: innovation, leadership and hard work. 

Crown Prince Haakon speaking the International Conference on Sustainable Development at Columbia University, New York. Photo: Columbia University


Technological innovation is driving change, and change is happening faster than predicted. For example, in the 1970s, solar power was 250 times more expensive than it is today. Today, some solar farms can produce electricity at a lower price per kWh than the cost of newly built coal-fired power plants, which has already led to the cancellation of some plans to build polluting coal-fired power plants. 


Crown Prince Haakon has met many people on his travels in Norway and around the world – people who take a leadership role and take action to improve their own existence and the societies in which they live. People who see something that is not working and take steps to fix it. 

Their stories are inspiring, and the Crown Prince shared some of them with his audience today.

Hard work

The final point on his list was “hard work”, because the changes that are needed will not happen on their own. We must identify the problems and find the right solutions. Technology alone is not enough to solve problems; there have to be people who are willing and able to develop new solutions and implement them. 

“The challenges we face are made by humans, and they can be solved by humans,” said the Crown Prince, who concluded by encouraging the audience to keep in mind all that has been achieved, and to have faith in what each individual, alone and together with others, can achieve. 


The presentation concluded with an on-stage discussion between The Crown Prince and Professor Jeffrey Sachs. Photo: Eileen Barroso / Columbia University

More about the conference

The International Conference on Sustainable Development brings together more than a thousand participants from over 60 countries to discuss the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The participants come from a wide range of sectors: academia, the UN, organisations, the private sector and the political arena.

The two other key note speekers at the conference was New Zealand's Prime Minister Ms Jacinda Ardern and the President of Costa Rica, Mr Carlos Alvarado. 

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave her presentation just ahead of the Crown Prince. Photo: Eileen Barroso/Columbia University


The conference is part of the Columbia World Leaders Forum, which is held each year during the United Nations high-level week. The Crown Prince spoke as part of the Kapuscinski Development Lectures.

Crown Prince Haakon also had the opportunity to meet some of the Norwegian students at Columbia. Photo: Eileen Barroso / Columbia University




The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production pattern
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Source: the UN

Crown Prince Haakon in Mesetas. Photo: FN-sambandet / Eivind Oskarson.

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