Closing speech by Minister Sigrid Kaag at the GES 2019

Closing speech by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag at the GES 2019, The Hague, 5 June 2019.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Has it really been just 48 hours?

So much has happened after our plenary opening session yesterday morning. Information was exchanged, contacts were made, seeds of collaboration were planted.

Over the past 48 hours, the World Forum has been sizzling with entrepreneurial energy, exciting examples of cutting edge technologies and innovative opportunities for investment.

Take the five wonderful pitches we earlier today. One in each of the five sectors agrifood, connectivity, health, energy and water. 

Five examples of what can happen if brains, business and bureaucracy team up and work together to achieve real results - all creating solutions for global challenges.

And those five were just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s much more where that came from.

We’ve seen it happening in the various rooms, and on the various podia of this World Forum over the last 48 hours. From the ‘startup stories’ to the ‘collaborations for the future’, to the ‘solution stages’. 

Challenges are various; so were the solutions that were put forward:

From tissue engineering for the mass production of safe and affordable meat (without killing the animal!!!); to bio-inspired coatings to prevent contamination of medical devices;

From artificial intelligence that looks after the well-being of humans; to app-solutions to address the waste problem in big cities;

From the creation of vaccines from silkworms; to solutions that can make worthless land productive again….

To name but a few….

It’s fair to say: that GES 2019 has been so much more than ‘just a conference.’

So much more than the ‘inverted trade mission’ I’ve called it on many occasions.

Some exciting announcements were also made.

Like the announcement by USAID and OPIC on the partnership to empower women in development markets.

Yes, this conference was about much more than ‘just business’.

GES 2019 has been about designing the future.

A sustainable future. ‘The future now’.

In that sense, this summit has been a true instrument of geo-economics. A positive instrument in a challenging geopolitical context. One that benefits everyone. And that’s vital. Especially at a time of increasing uncertainty and rising tensions.

Thus, ladies and gentlemen, GES leaves us with a powerful message:

Yes, it is possible to create win-win solutions.

No, the global economy does not need to be a zero-sum game.

Healthy trade in open markets, where regulations create a level playing field, is in all of our interests. Such trade remains the fuel of our global economy. Because it leads to jobs, prosperity and innovation.

That’s why we kicked off the GES with a CEO roundtable - Secretary Pompeo also took part. Dialogue on trade needs to continue, so that we can deepen our mutual understanding.

And what’s even more important: the consensus that emerged in this summit:

That society is our next big client.

That there is no gap between business and society.

That there are business cases to be made in solving the global challenges we face.

Yes, we can make money while delivering the SDGs to the world.

That is the powerful legacy GES 2019 is leaving us. One that cuts across all sectors: food, connectivity, energy, water, health.

And finance.

The Finance Forum brought together over 200 companies whose investments total 13 trillions euro’s. Having the whole capital continuum participate in the GES is an investment in our future, especially when we chose to focus on themes such as ’purpose AND profit-driven investment’, ‘return on diversity’ and ‘investing with impact’.

Thank you investors, and in particular APG, for your leadership. You have inspired others to unlock their capital so they can invest it in new initiatives around the world.

But there are more ‘thank you’s’ to say.

These two days would not, of course, have been possible without all of you, the GES participants from 140 different countries.

And by the way…. around a third of you are women entrepreneurs!

Today, these women gathered to give other women across the world 6 golden tips for empowerment.

It shows: return on diversity has truly been a cross-cutting theme throughout this summit -  from the plenary opening through the finance forum until this closing session.

Let’s celebrate all together our results of this GES at the beach at the closing reception that is hosted by the United States of America.

Thank you, our American co-hosts, for traveling this wonderful road together!

And after today: let’s continue on this road together.

The summit might have finished, but we will keep on going!

Because: The Future is Now.

And remember: to every problem, there is a Dutch solution.

Thank you.