Jul 13, 2022
Almedalen 2022 - Creating a platform for democracy and transformation
This year's Almedalen was scaled down, more sympathetic, calmer, but as welcoming as usual. It is a fantastic format where many can meet; politicians, businesses, academia, government officials, and citizens. Such a format of open conversation is accessible, simple, and inclusive. We all agree that Almedalen should be replicated in more regions or cities to complement and compete with existing formats, reach an even broader audience, become sharper, and more inclusive for the future. The conversation should continue more clearly throughout the year with the ambition to create a more sustainable and present dialog. The discussions should also become a bit more pointed, and the number of participants in the panel needs to be reduced. We need debates with different thinkers to gain new perspectives and find necessary solutions, but instead, panels are filled with people who think exactly alike, and conversations with the audience are almost absent.
We also agree that many individuals inspired us in various ways, regarding what Sweden should be in the future. However, no single party provided us with a complete vision. The dream would be to form our own party, with representatives from different parties, businesses, authorities, and civil society. With the ambition to build a 'new team' for Sweden that looks beyond party boundaries, pettiness, personal attacks, and that would prioritize environmental and social sustainability in the long term, with the citizens at the center. Perhaps a starting lineup with the Chief of Defence (ÖB), the General Secretary of the Red Cross, the Director from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, representatives from the Swedish Confederation of Enterprise, Lantmännen, Oatly, Doctors Without Borders, and a group of non-political officials à la Anders Tegnell.
We lacked a holistic perspective and a vision of Sweden's potential in the sustainability arena. Despite being one of the world's richest and most sought-after countries in many ways, discussions mainly revolved around the "green transition" in the north and the advantage we currently hold globally. Perhaps we have this advantage for 2-3 more years. Let's take advantage of it. Almedalen sheds light on many issues, but unfortunately, sustainability is often discussed one issue at a time. What's missing is sustainable, visionary leadership. Climate, circular economy, green transition, and social development are talked about as if they were separate issues. Few can paint a narrative and describe where we are headed and how to get there. In particular, the obstacles that must be overcome, the concessions that must be made, and how broad acceptance can be created for challenging issues such as large-scale wind power, various energy sources in combination, mining for essential minerals in Sweden, and skills supply, among others.
Many speak of the need for transition, and many agree on the "what," but definitions are lacking, and there's not as much discussion about the "how." What we did hear in Almedalen and agree with is:
There is a need for common definitions so that we mean the same thing, especially when discussing multifaceted issues like sustainability.
Everything we do must be insight- and data-driven and complemented by creating engagement for change.
The ambitions and goals we have must include milestones and activities, so we know we are on the right track at a pace that is fast enough.
Taxonomy, reporting, and new requirements should not complicate the transition, but facilitate it. If it becomes too complex, people will lose interest, become cynical, or be accused of greenwashing, and we will not achieve the transition the world needs.
Collaboration, such as the roadmaps created by Fossil Free Sweden, are prerequisites for broad joint agreements, something Sweden is really good at, and something that should be implemented in more areas. Pilot projects are crucial to finding innovation, and when proven effective, they should be scaled up rapidly and widely.
The narrative must be strengthened - let's talk more about what is possible and how it should be done.
We need to touch people, create engagement, and remember that all action is emotional. If we don't make people feel, change will not reach everyone at all levels.
Our collaboration is based on data-driven storytelling, because we are convinced that we need the right data in place to focus on the right issues, and we need to touch and engage people to drive the societal change that is necessary. The link between data and communication was missing during Almedalen this year, but we will work to ensure that this conversation is more actively pursued throughout the year. We cannot discuss important issues only once a year; it must be an ongoing dialogue.
Louise König, CEO at The New Division
Maria Svantemark, CEO & Co-Founder of SustainLab