Stockholm (NordSIP) – Since its inception in 1993, Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, has been a driving force for high-quality, innovative research based on active collaboration between academia, industry, and public agencies. Mistra invests about SEK 200 million annually in various research initiatives. To ensure that the endowment money goes to the right initiatives, governance is of the essence, and the foundation’s ten board members must be carefully selected. Two members are appointed by the Swedish Government, another two are recommended by the leading Swedish agencies, and two more are appointed on the recommendations of higher education institutions. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA) appoint a member each. Lastly, the tenth member is appointed by Mistra’s board.
On 9 September, Mistra revealed the names of the board members who will steer the foundation in the coming year. According to the announcement (in Swedish), the foundation welcomes a new Chair and Vice-Chair, alongside several new board members.
Combining different strengths
Anna Jakobson, a portfolio manager at Alfred Berg, who has been a board member since 2019, is Mistra’s new Chair. She has also been serving as the board’s representative on Mistra’s Asset Management Committee, a position she will step down from in conjunction with her appointment as Chair. Mistra’s new Vice-Chair, Anders Tunlid, a Professor of Microbiological Ecology at Lund University, has also been on the board since 2019. Their different backgrounds and expertise are prime examples of the collaborative approach between various stakeholders that the organisation aims to promote.
“I have a knowledge of asset management and have worked for a long time on sustainability issues from a financial perspective, while Anders, our Vice-Chair, has a deep academic background and knowledge,” comments Jakobson. “Mistra’s main task is to distribute research funding, and asset management is an enabler of this, so we complement each other well,” she adds.
The board’s new members are Tina Schmid Neset, Associate Professor of Environmental Change at Linköping University; Emma Nehrenheim, Sustainability Manager at Northvolt; Maria Khorsand, former CEO of SOS Alarm and RISE; Torbjörn Lundahl, former Program Director for Ericsson Research; Peter Westman, Deputy Secretary General of WWF, and Göran Sundqvist, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Gothenburg. They will be joining Jakobson, Tunlid and another two members who continue to serve on the board of Mistra, Emelie Persson Lindqvist, Advisor in Sustainable Finance at Handelsbanken and Thomas Aronsson, Professor of Economics, Umeå School of Economics.
A list of priorities
A priority for both Jakobson and Tunlid would be to quickly integrate all new board members and enable them to contribute with ideas and perspectives based on their different backgrounds and knowledge. “Mistra has many long-term research programmes,” explains Tunlid. “It is important, therefore, that the process remains well-defined and that everyone on the board knows how they can and should contribute.”
Given the long-term nature of many of Mistra’s initiatives, Tunlid is highly aware of the risk that the programmes will swell in size and thus take a lot of effort to coordinate. He believes the foundation should increase the number of younger researchers it reaches out to and that the programme portfolio may need to be supplemented with smaller, more focused initiatives. “We need to lower the thresholds for funding new talent and give those with exciting ideas more leadership roles,” says Tunlid.
For Jakobson, accountability is another priority area for the years ahead. She sees the need for enhanced qualitative evaluations that clarify what a successful Mistra programme entails. “There is also more noise in the environmental and climate field today, and it is important to reach beyond the circle of those already aware of the issues,” she says. “Research results can be made even more accessible, not least in the business sector and in the policy area. I am really looking forward to welcoming our board members with new approaches to tackle this,” concludes Jakobson.