Welcome remarks Young Leaders Summit II
HRH The Crown Princess´ Welcome remarks at Young Leaders Summit II
I would like to welcome each and every one of you to Norway and to the Young Leaders Summit. It is fantastic to finally have you all here from all over the world. Many of us have been looking forward to this day, and to again have the opportunity to spend some quality time together and to help each other move closer to our goal of stopping the aids pandemic.
Before I begin, I want to thank the people who have been working so hard to make this meeting happen. The organizing committee, Vibeke, Marte, Caitlin… In many ways, this meeting has already been going on for months. So many of you have been engaged in planning and collaborating through Facebook and Google groups, on emails and conference calls. Thank you. Now the fun part begins. And the work.
I want to share with you a personal story on why having you here means so much to me. I have been involved with HIVAIDS for many years but it was through my involvement with Accept, a community center for people affected by HIV/AIDS here in Oslo, that I learned about the everyday stigma and discrimination challenges
faced by people living with HIV/AIDS. Accept provides a broad range of services: counselling, housing, legal assistance, peer-to-peer support groups and more. They provide a safe space and they let people know that they are not alone.
As a volunteer at Accept for the last 2 years I have heard so many stories about the challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS here in Norway and I have seen the incredible difference that a place like Accept can make. I told many of you about Accept when we were together last year in California.
You can’t imagine how gratifying it was for me the other night when Caitlin and I had dinner there and I learned that many of you here had decided to stay at Accept. For me that embodies the sense of community, respect and collaboration that we hope to foster here and that we need to finally overcome the challenges of HIV/AIDS.
Why are we here today?
We are here to talk about the future. But more than that, we are here to make the future.
Much progress has been made during the first 25 years of the AIDS response. But as you know well, we have a long way still to go. And we are looking to you to lead us there.
You are all here because you are doing amazing things. You are advocating and innovating. You are building organizations and leading the fight against stigma and discrimination. You are changing minds and giving people hope.
At this conference we want to recognize your amazing work. We want you to realize that you are not alone. There are many others, at this meeting and around the world, who are facing similar challenges and overcoming them with the same passion, creativity and commitment that you have shown. I hope that you will learn from each other and help each other.
But I want to ask you to do more. I want to ask you to lead this movement forward. There are people here today, and people who will be here on day 3, who have been leading on HIV/AIDS issues for many years. There are here not to tell you what to do but rather to learn from you and to help you succeed.
The struggle against HIV/AIDS needs your ideas, your perspectives and your passion.
I am very much looking forward to spending the next 3 days working with you and learning from you.