Speech by HRH The Crown Princess at the launch of Danida’s 50th anniversary exhibition in Bella Center on March 16, 2012

Good morning. I have been very much looking forward to the launch of Danida’s exhibition.

This exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of Danish development cooperation – Danida. Denmark’s long international engagement and partnership with developing countries all over the world is something we can be very proud of. It has created many positive initiatives and results over the years, changing the life of millions of the poorest people in the world.

I have had the opportunity to visit some of the projects in Denmark’s partner countries, most recently in Ethiopia, and it is very clear from those visits that the assistance is much needed – and much appreciated. 

Often it is the case that it takes ‘just a little’ to help and support people, so they can help themselves. I have met adults and children, men and women, whose living conditions are difficult for us to imagine, but every time I come away inspired by their strength and will to improve their lives and provide a better life for their children. 

Of course it takes more than ‘just a little’ to fight against structural and economic barriers and injustice. However, we are making progress.
Since 1990, the share of human beings in the world living in absolute poverty has decreased from 1.8 billion to 1.4 billion people. More than 90 percent of all children in developing countries now go to school. And despite the actual economic declines the overall poverty rate is still expected to fall below 15 percent by 2015 – thus indicating that the Millennium Development Goal target on tackling poverty can be met.  

Development assistance has contributed to these improvements. Although being only a small factor in development, it can promote and support improvements in various ways in poor societies and weak administrations. This is exactly what we have seen through the contribution of Danish development assistance during the last 50 years. 

In Denmark, international engagement is based upon public understanding and knowledge of development issues. However, if we don’t know about the challenges in developing countries – and maybe even more importantly – we don’t know what results development assistance is achieving, we might question the validity of these efforts – are we really making a difference? 

It is not easy to relate to these issues that are so far removed from our own lives and challenges. Therefore, communication is an extremely important part of Danida. The Danish public should hear about development issues and the personal stories of people in developing countries. Communication about development assistance and development issues is essential.

This exhibition is an innovative and thoughtful answer to the question: How can development issues be conveyed to a broader part of the Danish population?

The use of the Danida design and the fact that you can – literally speaking – walk into the development circles provides an interactive experience for visitors. When going through the circles visitors will be touched by beautiful photography and various features that stimulate the sensory perception.

During the next three months this exhibition will visit six big shopping malls throughout Denmark and it will end up at the socalled ‘People’s Meeting’ in Bornholm in June. Also here, visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about Danida and Danish development assistance. 

This communication project is part of a long tradition in Denmark. Disseminating knowledge of development issues, and improving the understanding of Danish development assistance to poor countries among the Danes, has gone hand in hand with the progress of Danish international engagement.

Congratulations on Danida’s 50th anniversary. And congratulations on this exhibition, which will travel through the country conveying Danida’s story. 

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