Toespraak van Prins Filip - "Club of Rome - European Chapter"

  • 21/11/2011
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(Toespraak uitgesproken in het Engels)


Ladies and gentlemen,


We do not need to be afraid of limits..... Let us look upon limits as challenges and opportunities! I am very pleased to welcome here today Professor Meadows, who undoubtedly will give us some ideas on how to live with - and within - limits.

When "Limits to growth" was launched publicly forty years ago, its authors painted a rather gloomy picture of the future. Their report warned us that life on  planet Earth would become unsustainable if the industrial world did not accept the limits of nature and natural resources. A change of course was required.  

Little has changed for the better. Humankind is thinking too much in the short term. Long term strategies seem to be difficult to develop. Today, however, it is even more obvious that our world is at risk of becoming a dangerous place for us all.  We are indeed facing a whole series of multiple crises: economic, social, environmental, cultural, spiritual. All these crises are interlinked. Therefore they call for global sustainable solutions. 

But there are signs of hope.

The world is crying out for a fundamental change in systems, institutions and attitudes. An increasing number of think-tanks, small communities, opinion-makers and industrial corporations are finding ways to create alternatives and to identify new options to bring about fundamental changes; alternatives and options outside mainstream thinking and behaviour.

The aim of the Club of Rome is to analyse interdisciplinary scientific facts and figures in order to elaborate new ideas on how to deal with world problems. The reports from or to the Club of Rome are often disturbing because they question the very basis of our industrial civilisation. But at the same time they suggest potentially sustainable solutions. 


Ladies and gentlemen,

Transformation will be found if we dare to think outside the box. Your work, Professor Meadows, is an invitation to do so. It is in my understanding also an invitation to consider  three fundamental attitudes:

  • 1. Recognising and accepting the limits of our natural resources, the limits of biodiversity, the limits of exploiting nature and the biosphere.
  • 2. Thinking in the long term. Paradoxically, accepting limits forces us to broaden the limits of time. It is more than ever vital to work for future generations.
  • 3. Seeking cooperation rather than competition, joining forces in solidarity.

A sustainable future for all countries and peoples requires us to work closely together, reaching agreements on global solutions. Nations need to pursue, not only their own national interests, but the interests of the whole of humanity. 

Europe can help in showing the way towards greater cooperation. The European Union has already done so for more than 60 years. It has succeeded in reaching shared sovereignty in many domains. The economic and monetary crisis which we are experiencing show us the limits of some of our policies. But again, strong and courageous decisions have been taken and others are being formulated.  This is crucial if Europe is to remain one of the wealthiest economies in the world. There is a way of doing so while at the same time ensuring the preservation of our wonderful European social model. We will then steadily move towards a more stable society, where social justice, health, a healthy environment and happiness are indicators of wellbeing. The EU and its 500 million citizens must learn the lessons of limits.

Accepting limits in some areas can, on the other hand, lead us to extend limits in nature conservation, cooperation, education, research and culture.

Such a paradigm shift calls for increased ethical and civic values. It starts with the education of our children, who need to learn that without self imposed limits and without commonly set limits, there is no civilisation.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The paradigm shift should obviously be worldwide. Through the Club of Rome we stimulate cooperation between the best brains from all continents. I am therefore delighted to honour today a distinguished American scientist.

I am convinced that Professor Meadows, in his lecture, will give us a better understanding of the issues at stake and the options to be taken for a sustainable future. We are most grateful to him for being with us today.