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    Thoughts on a Tragic 2022 Almedalsvecka

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    NordSIP (Stockholm) – Following our conversation with Emma Heikensten, Senior Sustainability Specialist at SEB, about her expectations for Almedalen, NordSIP reached out to her and Camilla Larsson, CEO of KPA Pension, who was also in attendance last week to hear more about what ended up being one of the most dramatic editions of Swedens’ celebration of democracy.

    Discussing her personal experience at the event, Heikensten strikes an upbeat tone. “It was fun to be back again, and one could really feel how much people had been longing for this week, especially after the years of COVID. Personally, I also enjoyed the fact that we are in an election year, which increases the focus of Almedalen participants on politics,” Heikensten says. “It was great to be back and to see that sustainability – in particular climate transition – remains a key topic among both politicians and business leaders,” Larsson agrees.

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    Taking Sustainability Seriously

    “After having attended a number of seminars, it is clear to me that Swedish companies really take climate transition seriously. Most are integrating it as a core component in their business strategies, and there are also a number of business leaders asking for political decisions aiming to support the transition – in particular a global price on CO2. There is however lots of uncertainty around whether this will ever happen,” Larsson says.

    “My participation in the Almedalen political week made me even more convinced that KPA Pension and other institutional investors have a large role to play here. Initiatives like the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, where we engage with our holdings on their decarbonization pathways and actively encourage them to set Science Based Targets, does put pressure on companies to act. We look forward to continuing these efforts in the years to come,” Larsson added.

    Heikensten was satisfied about the events in which she had participated. “Both the seminar I arranged and the one I participated in with the Swedish Finance Minister went well,” she said. “From a policy and a business perspective, data on sustainability (whether it is CO2 emissions, effects on biodiversity or gender pay gap) is essential and its current supply is not sufficient. This is something that was on the agenda on both seminars. Better data is something that both businesses and the government could provide to improve decision making. There are also low hanging fruits and many things that could be done by individuals, businesses and politicians to improve gender equality – and I hope that attendees as well as panellists at the seminars will do so,” Heikensten added.

    Tragedy Strikes

    “The Almedalen political week was a bit shorter than usual, but perhaps even more intense than previous years,” Larsson says referring to the stabbing of psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren at Almedalen. “It is hard to speak about this year’s event without mentioning the tragic death of Ing-Marie Wieselgren, an appreciated employee at SKR, Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner. My deepest thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, colleagues and everyone else directly involved in this tragedy.”

    Heikensten also reflected on this tragedy. “I left Gotland and Almedalen the day before the attack. But many friends and colleagues were still there. The initial reaction was shock and concern that there would be more attacks to come. Then followed feelings of sadness, anger and worry about how this might affect society more broadly. For the last week my thoughts and condolences are with the family, friends and colleagues of Wieselgren,” Heikensten explains.

    “Even though we don’t yet have the full story, her death is an attack on democracy, and it will affect Almedalsveckan going forward. I believe and hope that it will continue to be an open space for meetings and discussions between the public and private sector. Learning from each other and solving problems together. But given that something like this can happen security is likely to increase and, with that, restrictions that might influence the ambience,” Heikensten continues.

    Parting Thoughts

    In the aftermath of the attack, in combination with the global threats to democracy, it is more important than ever to work with these and related social topics from a sustainability perspective. I believe that we can all contribute, by engaging as individuals in our (local) communities and civil society or through our work as investors and active owners,” Larsson adds.

    “After days filled with interesting seminars, discussions, new friends and acquaintances you get a lot of new insights and perspectives. Complex problem solving requires multiple perspectives and I think that at least some of the new ideas and connections made will turn into political propositions, new collaborations or investments during the fall, Heikensten concludes.

     

    Image courtesy of Folksam and SEB / edited by NordSIP
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe is an economist with 8 years of experience in macroeconomic and financial analysis for the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UN World Institute for Development Economic Research, the Stockholm School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Filipe holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the LSE and a MSc in Economics from the University of London, where he currently is a PhD candidate.
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