It is a short drive from Stockholm to Drottningholm Palace, where it is lovely to stroll through the vast and diverse gardens. A beautiful day with blue skies, although the temperatures were only just above freezing. It has kept the green away. The bare trees are mainly grey and silver, but some small colorful flowers have already popped up. UNESCO describes the palace as the most beautiful example of an 18th-century northern European royal residence inspired by the Palace of Versailles. It is a World Heritage Site.

I noticed that the parking lot was full, but the gardens were empty…


My daily schedule on my laptop has a notification at the top of the page: ‘nothing planned.’ Before the corona crisis, I had never seen a day with such a message before. A big sheet on the wall shows my long term planning for this year. It has not been updated and reminds me of all that I should have done this spring. For today it says ‘Washington, DC’. I would likely have visited the National Gallery of Art today. Like previous visits, I would have taken some time to see George Bellows’ painting of New York, that he made…


Precisely one month ago, on 27 February, I ended my note with this line: ‘President Trump said yesterday: “the risk to the American people remains very low.” Remember those words.’

By that time, I had already written the organizers of a conference in the U.S. that I would attend. I explained that I feared for a possible pandemic that would interfere with the event. Right now, while I type these words, I should have been flying to Washington, DC.

It is sad to see the high price that the American people are paying for being attacked off-guard. That has happened…


Have you thought about the devastation that the coronavirus may bring to poorer countries? I was thinking about that when I walked today in the beautiful streets of Stockholm, that were much more quiet than usual. I was surprised to see people sitting together on terraces, enjoying the early springtime sun. Walking here, it takes an effort to imagine what life is like in cities in poorer countries in Africa or Asia, especially in the informal settlements. It feels like it is a world away from Gamla Stan, but it takes just a flight of a few hours. …


On this cold and rainy morning, I joined Greta Thunberg in front of the Swedish parliament for her climate strike.

It is just 29 weeks ago that she sat there for the first time. All alone, since nobody she had asked wanted to join her. But she didn’t give up and she is now the founder of an international youth movement that challenges the world’s leaders to act on climate change.

Her ‘Fridays For Future’ protest has inspired and mobilised hundreds of thousands of students all over the world. Together they ask us, the grown-ups, to look into the mirror…


Perhaps unnoticed to the rest of the world’s Twitter community the Dutch had some fun this weekend about our international reputation for speed-skating. NBC’s Katie Couric covered the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and informed the waiting world why the Dutch win so many medals at speed-skating. Her explanation: skating is an important mode of transportation in the Netherlands because we use the frozen canals in Amsterdam to get from place to place.

The Dutch twitter pages soon filled up with pictures of skating highways, people shopping on skates in beautiful Dutch landscapes or by many that announced their…


I stopped for a moment during my hike in Tyresta National Park to enjoy the magnificent view of the shadows of the pine trees on the lake. But even more so I enjoyed the absolute silence. At that moment I felt at one with nature. Just outside of the largest Scandinavian City, I wondered why so few were there. Perhaps it is just that Sweden has so much nature that everybody spreads out thinly over all that beauty.

Tyresta National Park, Sweden

Sweden is a wonderful country where many kids grow up close to nature. Bad weather is not seen as an excuse to…


Today I had several meetings in Gamla Stan, the beautiful Old Town of Stockholm. I took this picture in one of the many little streets with bright colored houses and cobblestones. In each meeting, the conversation soon drifted to the decision of the President of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The former world leader now leaves it to Europe, China, and every other nation to solve the biggest challenge that the world has ever faced.

Chinese Hoax

Trump infamously tweeted that climate change is a Chinese hoax. He ignores the warnings of the scientists about the…


This morning I visited a historical site that once set the stage for the last try-out before real state colonialism started. It was here, on this beach in the South of the Canary Island of Lanzarote, that the Norman conquerors Juan de Bethencourt and Gadifer de la Salle landed in 1402. Close to the shoreline they built a castle and a chapel in honour of San Marcial.

View from the ruins of the City of Rubicón over the Atlantic Ocean and Fuerteventura

The conquest of Lanzarote took place 13 years earlier than the conquest of Ceuta in 1415, which is often mentioned as the first foothold outside of Europe and therefore the beginning of modern…


This morning the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief tweeted on @IHHen that Bana Alabed has finally arrived to safety

On the picture she smiles and you will notice the missing teeth. It reminds those that feel they know her of the innocent tweets of the seven year old Bana about the tooth fairy. On 8 December she wrote to her hundreds of thousands of followers “I am happy I lost two more teeth”.

Many daily followed her life in war-torn Aleppo on Twitter. They read these kind of tweets, alternated with other experiences that described the…

Alexander Verbeek

Institute for Planetary Security | Diplomat | Associate SEI & SIWI | Yale World Fellow | Public Speaker | Photographer | Energy-Water-Food | Innovation| Climate

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store