Sustainability is a prerequisite – speech at the IPU 138 meeting in Geneva

I think we all can agree, that sustainable development is a prerequisite, an absolute need for peace. When a society becomes unsustainable, when it can’t provide for its inhabitants, unrest follows.

In this regard we are seeing challenges piling up in front of us. As we speak great areas of land are becoming uninhabitable, and are forcing people to go on the move, to find new places where they can settle down, build a home, try to get on with their lives.

3 years ago Europe was facing a wave of immigration. There is no reason to think that this was the last time. And there is no reason to think that the way to tackle challenges like that is border-technicalities or bureaucracy, security measures or fences.

The only way to create sustainability on a lasting scale is by attacking the root causes themselves. And those are failing democracies and accelerating climate change.

On climate change there is a road map. I want to believe that there is a will. But no country should think that it is easy. It requires a road map, it demands goals, it needs action.

Building democracy again – that is more difficult. Authoritarianism wants to cling to its guns. Corrupt regimes fear openness. But the idea, that you can gain lasting prosperity by constraining the democratic process, by keeping minorities from voting, by limiting the participation of women in society goes against logic and is unsustainable.

Sustainable peace can only be achieved in inclusive societies where everybody can participate and where you embrace diversity, whether it means accepting those that are moving in or including minorities that are living by your side.

Nationalism, a narrow definition af what you are, leads to stagnation and conflict. We have seen this in Europe in recent years with the annexation of Crimea and the following war in Ukraine. We have seen it in Myanmar with the persecution of the Rohingya. The list goes on.

Sweden talked about the importance of an independent judiciary. This can’t be emphasised enough. We have lately seen some very troubling developments on our own turf, here in Europe. The eagerness for a politician to meddle in the judicial process is dangerous, and should not be tolerated. Here I call on all parliamentarians to understand their role.

There is a lot of talk about self-determination here. Self-determination is a good thing. But it is only valid if everybody is included. Self-determination by a select few, self-determination as a rhetorical means of sustaining a repressive regime, a failing democracy, is not sustainable.

Speech at the IPU hearing on migration at the UN

There has been some talk about national sovereignty here, a lot of talk about us needing to help on site, as a means of avoiding migration altogether.

These words would be much more credible if they were accompanied by real actions and commitments to development aid and climate action, for example.

And here my own country can be criticised, too. We are not on track to reach the 0,7% development aid goal, quite the opposite.

If we want to amend the root causes the answer is quite easy. We need to assure that there is opportunity in the countries of departure. That there are ways to make a living, ways to be heard, to have a voice.

And that opportunity is given through democracy. Less autocracy, more meritocracy.

We don’t need authoritarianism but true democratic structures.

And that also implies that boosting authoritarian regimes never can be a way to create sustainable societies.

Fostering democracy is the only way to sustainably create resilient societies, societies with opportunities.

And sometimes it doesn’t work even then. The big elephant in the room is climate change.

It doesn’t matter how well working the society is if living there becomes impossible. If rising sea levels cover the land or extreme weather makes growing crops impossible. But even then, having a democracy that makes everybody part of society makes coping easier, it makes adapting easier.

It is quite clear that migration isn’t  something that started in 2015 even though some European countries might feel that. And it will increase, which makes our main mission to focus on how to receive, how to integrate.

There are easy things every country can make: Take down the barriers that makes it more difficult to integrate – make it easy to open a bank account, to take an insurance policy, to get a social security number. These are the easy steps.

The difficult one is attitude, the general feeling in society. And here I want to thank the representative of the UK who raised the very important question of hate speech.

In Europe we can see increasingly nationalistic tendencies. A search for easy answers to difficult questions. That is a breeding ground for xenophobia, and that again impedes integration.

Research shows that the general attitude is the most important factor in integration. If people feel included, welcomed, then integration is easy. And then migration, immigration – something that Europe actually needs due to its demographic structure – turns into something positive.