Official visit to Chile: Opening of seminar in Santiago
ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, the Crown Princess sends her best regards and regrets that she is unable to be here with us today. Chile has set an impressive standard in Latin America. The Chilean economy is dynamic and the country is an attractive hub for foreign investments. But there is more to Chile than the robust economy and the construction boom it has experienced over the past years. Already on the second day of our visit, we have seen what a beautiful and diverse country this is, and we are looking forward to seeing and learning more over the next few days.
Economic cooperation between Chile and Norway is increasing by the year. Chile is an attractive market for Norwegian companies. Among the reasons for this are the country’s good infrastructure and its well-established framework for doing business. Meanwhile Chilean companies are increasingly looking to the Norwegian market.
Doing business at home and abroad presents both opportunities and responsibilities. I note the rapidly growing interest in corporate social responsibility in both the Chilean and Norwegian business communities.
Businesses are becoming aware that environmental, ethical and social factors will have a significant impact on their future. The commitments made by many governments under the Kyoto Protocol has highlighted the potential for carbon-saving technologies and opened up markets for more sustainable products and services. Increasingly, investors are demanding ethical decisions. Employees are interested in the values held by the companies they work for. And purchasing patterns are beginning to reflect widely held principles of environmental and social responsibility.
All in all, the case for sustainability becomes hard to ignore. And long-term success is a prospect for businesses that identify sustainable development as an opportunity rather than a cost or a threat.
I am therefore pleased to note that the parallel sessions following this plenary opening session will address areas such as corporate social responsibility, female entrepreneurship, infrastructure and renewable energy. I am particularly pleased to see this last topic on the agenda. Finding new ways to meet the world’s energy demand is vital in our efforts to create a more sustainable future. There will be no basis for either life or livelihoods for our grandchildren if we destroy our natural resources.
With the Andes towering in the background, and its beautiful situation on the Mapocho river, Santiago provides a fine setting for this seminar, which will include some inspiring examples of best practice in the areas I have mentioned. I believe this is the right time and place to get together and seek the best possible solutions for a sustainable future.