July 4, 2012 – reporting from Almedalen

As you know from redaing my blog posts from July 2 and July 3, I am participating in the political summit in Almedalen. Today has been yet another hectic day. Several interesting seminars of which I am here mentioning only a few. If you want comments from more seminars and events in the sustainability field, read for instance Respect’s (Niclas Ihrén and Rebecca Kruus) comments on Miljöaktuellt’s website (this link takes you to their comments on yesterday’s seminars, I expect comments on today’s seminars to be published shortly).

The first seminar I will comment upon was arranged by CSR Sweden. The topic was ”who takes responsibility for sustainability issues?”. Is that a task for owners, for the board of directors, or for the executive leadership in a company? The background to CSR Sweden’s decision to run the seminar and discuss the issue is that Swedish government has decided to increse the focus on sustainability in the 58 companies owned by Kingdom of Sweden/Government. Exemples of those companies are LKAB, SJ, Posten, Svenska Spel, and Vattenfall. In order to have different perspectives on the issue presented CSR Sweden had invited the following panel:

Panel in the CSR Sweden seminar

Panel in the CSR Sweden seminar

From right to left: Lars Lindblad from JKL (moderator), Sarah McPhee from SPP, myself from Pfizer of course, Peter Norman from government, Kathrine Löfberg from Löfbergs Lila, and Lennart Käll fom Svenska Spel. We were all in agreement that the owner has a very important role. The owner elects the Board, and the board of course should show the direction for the company through clear strategies. Peter Norman explained that all governmentally owned companies have to have the sustainability agenda integrated in their business strategies by spring 2014. This is as you probably know if you follow my blog, exactly my opinion. Sustainability must be integerated in the business strategies to become of real importance and to become a real commitment. Read for instance my comments from March 29, 2010.

A strong owner, as the Swedish government who owns several of these 58 companies to 100%, hence has a great possibility to move the companies and their operations into a sustainable direction. Their task is to select board members with sustainability competencies in order to secure that the boards develop the sustainability strategies necessary. Strategies that should be delivered upon by the executive leadership of the company. Government also of course need to follow-up, in order to secure sustainable success!

I will also mention a seminar arranged by the European Social Fund. They discussed how companies/employers actually makes money by investing in better work environments and increased accessability for disabled people. Just the simple notice that disabled people consume products and services to a value of roughly 110 billion SEK annually (twice the value of consumption during Christmas) of course proves that accessability is crucial for the retail business. We also were presented several examples on increased productivity in companies when accessability and other work environmental aspects were taken into account.

And finally before I head down to today’s party leader speech in Almedalen (Jonas Sjöstedt, from the left party) I like to mention the innovation exhibition arranged by among others VGR, Swedish Science Centers and Plast & Kemiföretagen (P&K). The exhibition is called ”BlåGul Kemi gör Sverige grönt” (in English roughly ”Blue and Yellow (the colors of Sweden) Chemistry makes Sweden green). It was extremely interesting to listen to

- Borealis presenting their chemistry and engineering solutions allowing the manufacturing of High Voltage DC cables transmitting energy with almost zero losses

- KD Feddersen showing their polyamide materials produced from castor oil, hence 100% renewable

- Kemira presenting their waste water treatment techniques, and their ambitions to recycle phosphor

- Perstorp showing their 100% renewable crosslinker Voxtar used in paint, and their bio diesel manufactured from rapeseed oil (also that one 100% renewable of course)

- Preem talking about their bio diesel solution (made of pinewood oil)

- BASF talking about biodegradable plastics

- Akzo Nobel presenting their work to decrease environmental impacts through-out the supply chain.

So many good examples! It really made me proud of being a chemist and a Swede!

Now it is about time to move down to Almedalen to listen to the party leader speech. More things to come tomorrow….

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