Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of the Belgians Gives a Speech During the Opening Ceremony of the 15th Edition of European Development Days.

On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of the Belgians gave a speech during the opening ceremony of the 15th Edition of European Development Days in Brussels. The theme of the two-day conference is Global Gateway: Building Sustainable Partnerships for a Connected World. 

According to a press release, the European Development Days is:

“Europe’s leading forum on international partnerships. The two-day event is the European Union’s premier forum for discussion of the big issues facing international partnerships today. It is the biggest of its kind, attracting more than 10,000 participants each year.” 

The European Union’s Global Gateway Strategy will boost smart, clean, and secure links in the digital, energy, and transport sectors and strengthen health, education, and research systems across the world. The EDD presents an opportunity to take stock of progress in implementing the Global Gateway strategy. In line with the Strategy, discussions are organised along five streams: Digital, Climate and Enegry, Transport, Health, Education and Research.

In her speech, Her Majesty Queen Mathilde said:

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be able to participate in person again in this multi-partner international conversation, under the auspices of the European Development Days.

Speaking as an Advocate for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, my main task today is to remind all stakeholders of the importance of this global agenda. Unanimously adopted by the international community in 2015, its purpose is to make the world more equitable and more sustainable for all by 2030.

Unfortunately, these priorities have been hijacked by two major crises: the COVID pandemic, and the resurgence of war in Europe. The consequences, in terms of human suffering, for the economy worldwide, and the food security of many countries are dramatic. These emergencies have compelled decision-makers to focus mainly on managing the short term. Human and financial resources have been diverted to respond to immediate needs.

However, this should not become the “new normal”. Let us not forget that, beyond statistics on goals and targets, the SDGs outline a shared vision and provide a roadmap for the future we want to achieve. We must consider how, even in times of emergency, decision-makers, organizations, and individuals can re-establish and continue to expand their capacity, including their capacity to plan for a more distant future. They must be able to implement those plans as well, devising local, national, and international policies and cooperation systems to reach the objectives that the international community has set for itself so that the vision can be made a reality.

Developing and prioritizing policies and actions to combat climate change, poverty, gender inequality, pollution, and the depletion of world resources is the first step.

The European Green Deal is a bold project and illustrates that it can be done. Implementation will often require leaving the beaten path, thinking and acting differently, changing mindsets, and collectively shaping new priorities and new forms of collaboration that produce win-win results, based on shared values.

We know that innovative solutions can come from the entire world: from researchers, businesses, ordinary citizens, and young people. They might address local problems and use local resources, but they can still inspire others, even in faraway settings and different environments. The impressive set of connections proposed by the Global Gateway strategy will hopefully become a network of two-way streets and avenues, which will help ideas and experiences flow in many directions and enrich one another.