The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony 2022
Speech by Professor Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation, 10 December 2022.
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Esteemed Nobel Prize laureates, Ladies and Gentlemen around,
On behalf of the Nobel Foundation, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremony. In particular, I wish to welcome the Nobel Prize laureates, from 2022 as well as the two previous years, and their families.
This year is special. Since the coronavirus pandemic prevented us from holding regular festivities these past two years, we are all the happier this year to see the stage filled with Nobel Prize laureates. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to celebrate science and culture, and we are very glad to see you all here in Stockholm!
Earlier today, in Oslo, the prisoner of conscience and human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. For many years, they have promoted the right to criticise those in power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens, emphasising the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.
In Oslo and Stockholm, we meet today at a time when freedom is in decline globally; when there is war in Europe, even with the spectre of nuclear weapons; with dramatic energy and food crises across the world; with glaring discrimination, social and economic inequality; and accelerating climate change which requires the urgent scaling up of solutions.
Facing this multitude of crises and challenges, the world needs dedicated scientists who relentlessly seek the truth and push the boundaries of our knowledge. And the world needs those individuals and groups which − at great personal sacrifice − challenge authorities in pursuit of peace, democracy and human rights.
The Nobel Prize is awarded to individuals for concrete achievements in science, literature and peace, but with a higher, shared purpose: their benefit to humankind. Nobel Prize laureates are part of a community which has, in profound ways, changed the world. They
demonstrate the capacity we have as human beings to shape our own destiny.
As such, the Nobel Prize, its laureates and their achievements are a tremendous source of inspiration and hope, which today is needed more than ever. And the universal ambition to serve the benefit of humankind is also needed more than ever. This is our guiding star when the Nobel Foundation, with generous support from the Erling-Persson Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, now prepares for the future Nobel Center – a house for science, culture and dialogue to be located at Slussen, here in Stockholm.
In his will, Alfred Nobel directed that the prizes be awarded to those who had conferred the greatest benefit to humankind, regardless of nationality. This was radical and visionary in the late 19th century, an era marked by nationalism − a phenomenon which is sadly on the offensive in many countries even today.
But time has proven Alfred Nobel’s vision to be powerful. It is indeed the open exchange between countries and cultures that promotes human progress, free science, free culture, humanism and internationalism.
Today we are celebrating the 2022 Nobel Prizes. They are being awarded for scientific breakthroughs that span from intricate and mindboggling evidence that particles can be entangled despite being at a far distance from each other, to elegant solutions to simplify chemical reactions by click chemistry facilitating the synthesis of medicines and allowing the monitoring of biological processes in living cells, to insights into how to minimise the risks for financial crises and to genomic analyses of extinct hominins which have given us invaluable information about human evolution. We also celebrate literature which uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.
Allow me to close by addressing all the laureates from 2020 and 2021. You have long since received your medals and diplomas, but we would like to take this occasion to honour you with a musical piece commissioned by the Nobel Foundation. I invite you to enjoy the world premiere of Laus Canticum by the Swedish composer Andrea Tarrodi.