Main page
 On Bildt
 New Economy
 Foreign &
 security policy
 Moderate Party


Remarks at Clinton Conference
At an Executive Conference in Stockholm with former US President Clinton, I was asked to speak about important common challenges ahead.

Remarks by Mr Carl Bildt at Conference with President Clinton
Grand Hotel, Stockholm May 15, 2001.

It’s an honour to be here today, and to say a few words on the challenges ahead that I see, and where we have a duty to work together – in private business or in public positions – to seek solutions.

The past decade has seen momentous changes in Europe.

Little more than a decade ago, there was still the wall dividing Europe, and there was no world wide web bringing us all together.

Then, during the revolutionary between 1989 and 1991, this all changed. In Berlin, we saw the fall of the wall. In Geneva, we saw the birth of the web. In Moscow, we saw the red flag lowered over the Kremlin.

Since then, we have been trying to deal with all of the consequences of the fall of the wall and the rise of the web.

Neutrality has ceased as a policy for countries like our own as we have joined the European Union. There is now a common currency from Portugal in the south to Finland in the north, with some notable exceptions. We have seen the beginning of a new economy.

But this is just the beginning. The real challenges are ahead of us as we are building a Europe whole and free, dynamic and democratic. In many ways, Europe has the possibility of being the most dynamic part of the world during this decade.

But we must also widen our horizons. There is a new and challenging world out there. And we – Europeans in private or public life - have a role to play. Often in partnership with our friends across the Atlantic.

Look at the challenges out there.

During the next 15 or so year the world will grow by more than a billion people. 95 per cent of that growth will be in the developing countries. And most of that in the rapidly growing mega cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Here, we will encounter what I would like to describe – in a Chinese way – as The Two Hungers, The Two Fears and The One Solution.

The Two Hungers are for energy and for water. Food there is likely to be, although not everywhere and for everyone.

During the next two decades, overall world energy demand is projected to increase by app 50 %. And as the billion-sized economies of China and India continue to grow, the energy demands of the developing countries will more than double.

For all the talks about new sources of energy, fossil fuels will make up approximately nine tenths of this. Oil and gas will remain the by far dominant sources of energy in a world where the hunger for energy will only increase in a dramatic way.

This will present us with difficult new challenges.

The emission of greenhouse gases, and the effects this is likely to have on climate change, is clearly one of them. We talk a lot, but we don’t really have an answer yet.

The sources of energy are another.

Already today, more than 40% of the oil we use is coming from countries that haven’t signed or ratified the UN Convention on Human Rights, or are otherwise subject to severe criticism for their approach to human rights.

And worse is to come. A recent study in Washington said that in two decades more than 50% of estimated total oil and gas demand would be meet by exports from countries with difficult and high-risk political situations.

There is simply no way in which the increasing hunger for energy of the rapidly developing countries can be met without increasing production also from countries like Libya, Iraq and Iran.

Again, we don’t really have a ready answer. We need new policies. And we will need massive new investments.

Besides the hunger for energy, there will be the hunger for water.

This is linked to agriculture. It requires 1.000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain.

Already, water tablets under some of the major grain-producing areas in China are falling at a rate of more than a meter a year. In India, water tablets are falling at an average of one to three meters a year.

And in Central Asia around the Caspian and the Aral Seas, in the Middle East along the Jordan as well as Euphrates and Tigris and in Africa along the Nile, we see clearly that questions of water are questions of survival for individuals as well as for nations. In the world today, we have more people displaced by environmental issues than by war, and very often it boils down to the issue of water.

Again, we don’t have ready answer. Again, it will require political solutions in important areas. Again, it will require enormous investments. The hunger for water will be a major factor in the world in the decades to come.

The Two Fears might be more familiar. The one is The Fear of War. And the second is The Fear of Disease.

The Fear of War is not the same as before. It is no longer the challenge of the nuclear missiles or the Soviet divisions. Not even of the Chinese fighter pilots.

Increasingly we are taking about conflicts and wars resulting from failed states, from ethnic and cultural conflicts, from political structures too fragile to handle the mounting demands of the exploding populations.

We have seen it in the Balkans during the last decade – and we continue to see it this very day. We see it in the complex African states along the Nile, in the Great Lakes region or along the Congo. We see it in the high mountains of Kashmir or the vast archipelago of Indonesia.

And in many regions, problems of politics are added on problems of population that is added on economic and social divisions.

Look at the Middle East. More than 40 % of the population is 16 years of age and younger. And the young man lucky enough to have a job in Palestine earns a tenth of what a young man across the hill in Israel earns.

Again, we don’t have all the answers. Great powers might intervene where there is glory to be had and easy solutions in sight. But there will be fewer and fewer of these conflicts, and more and more of those where there is no glory to be had and no easy solution to be found.

That’s why we will need even more of the United Nations in the future. If we can’t develop the UN as a true instrument for handling conflicts around the world, we might try to fall back into isolating ourselves from them, but at the end of the day we are bound to fail.

The second fear is the fear of disease.

Much too late, the issue of HIV/AIDS is now on the international agenda.

In African countries like Botswana and Zimbabwe, life expectance will be reduced by 30 years, in Nigeria and South Africa – the pillars of sub-Saharan Africa – by 20 years. Truly horrible figures.

But we need to look beyond Africa. In Brazil – the giant of Latin America - life expectancy is expected to decline by eight years. And there is a very real risk that HIV/AIDS will explode in the growing mega cities of Asia in the years to come. And across the Baltic Sea, there were approximately one million HIV-positive persons in Russia last year – and there is expected to be approximately two million next year.

The fear is the fear also of other diseases. Since the mid-70’s, twenty well-known diseases – including tuberculosis (TB), malaria and cholera – have been making a comeback. And – which is even more worrying – they have often done it in more virulent and drug-resistant forms.

We don’t really know what expects us around the next corner.

These are – in my opinion - The Two Hungers and The Two Fears. What’s then The One Solution?

There is only one possible – globalisation and cooperation.

And there are two aspects of this.

The recognition that there are no national solutions to global challenges. And the recognition that increasingly the private and the public sectors must work together to address these challenges.

We are moving forward.

In the political world, there has been created the new World Trade Organisation, and thus a powerful instrument for a more open and better world. It is certainly not beyond debate, and that debate needs to be continued to make that global framework even better in promoting prosperity everywhere.

In the world of technology, the Internet revolution will gather speed in the years ahead. With the new generation of Internet, only our imagination limits the contribution it can make to meeting also the challenges I have discussed here today.

And the Global Compact of the United Nations, we have the beginning of a public/private partnership where politics recognises the indispensable role of business in satisfying these hungers and meeting these fears, and business recognises that it has a duty to adhere to standards and values that goes beyond just the balance sheet.

At the end of the day, a better world is good business.

But much more needs to be done. The recent initiatives in the field of HIV/AIDS and other diseases could be a new start. But we need far more of a dialogue on all of these issues.

How do we satisfy the hunger for energy while preserving the environment and promoting democracy?

How do we satisfy the hunger for water before despair provokes conflict, creates starvation and further deteriorates health?

How do we build global networks for conflict resolution that reduces the fear of war?

How do we build networks of global responsibility that makes it possible to reduce the spreading fear of disease?

Bildt Blog Comments

In addition to this webpage, and the email letters ongoing since 1994, I have now started a blog as well.

You find it at

At you will continue to find articles, speeches and different documents.

At the blog there will be the shorter and perhaps somewhat faster comments.

And the e-letter continues to give at the least an attempt at analys.

[email protected]