Nordic Foundation Network
Good afternoon everyone,
I am glad to welcome the Nordic Foundation Network to Oslo and Norway!
In all the Nordic countries, foundations play an important role in society. Of course, there are national differences, due to history and traditions. Still, these similarities and variations form a good basis for exchanging views across borders. To learn and to be inspired.
I hope your visits to the projects here in Oslo today have been useful. And your visit to Utøya tomorrow will be an experience outside the ordinary; venue for the tragic events in 2011, but also a strong and living symbol of hope and democracy.
I think this years’ theme – “A society for all, how foundations can contribute” – is well chosen. I really like that theme.
Important issues in your program – like social exclusion, xenophobia, parallel societies, political extremism and fake news are topics we need to address. A more inclusive society is a key challenge to all our countries. However, it doesn’t come with a simple – or single answer. Contributions from different parts of society are needed. From national and local governments to businesses and civil society. And from foundations – like the ones you represent here today.
Foundations have several characteristics that can be useful in helping to solve these complex challenges. Foundations have the potential to be independent, long term, and even flexible. And last, but not least: you have economical resources.
Foundations can be the actors that fill the gaps in society, maintain common goods and create sustainable social impact.
Of course, each foundation is set up with its own purpose. It is in nobody’s interest that all foundations do the same, or the same as the government. The point is that foundations can contribute to a better society for all within its own purpose and priorities. Helping good ideas for social improvement grow and solve problems in the process.
In connection with our wedding in 2001, the Crown Princess and I set up our own foundation that aims to help disadvantaged young people with multiple challenges in their life. Our main focus is to help these youngsters back into education, training and jobs.
We do that in several ways. We work with projects and social entrepreneurs, granting economic support and contributing to increased public awareness, and we are also working on our own project as well now.
One of the new projects we are working with is International Sandwich Brothers. This initiative gives young, male refugees in Norway work experience and relevant language training by making and selling ice cream in Oslo and its surroundings. The project is a good example of how people working together can create opportunities and value on several levels. We think it’s a brilliant idea, and with some work we hope it could be copied in other cities in Europe. We are exited about the Sandwich Brothers and looking forward to working with them.
So that is one example of what we are doing.
I believe in the value of bringing people and ideas together. You as foundations have the potential of playing an important role in this work – a key feature of progress and innovation.
I hope you will enjoy the rest of a successful conference and return home with an enlarged network, bright new ideas and a lot of inspiration.