Our first and only lazy morning of the Tour got us to start the studyvisit of the Eco-Municipality of Boden at 9.30.
We had a rendez-vous with Katarina Wennman in an old house, a municipal building which actually was a former primary school, the oldest of Boden. Katarina is an environmental engineer that had been part of the process of the very first Eco-municipality in Sweden, Övertorneå, back in the 1980s. Since this first experience she had been working in Boden, first as an engineer, but then as an “ecologist” from the moment the organization worked on Agenda 21 and turned into an Eco-municipality in 1997.
She told us a in a very simple and honest way about her work, her successful projects and the obstacles she has to face day to day with her colleges and the politicians.
Among the most interesting of the projects she undertook she outlined a project called “Biking for Health”, in which 10 citizens of the municipality signed a “contract” for 3 years about changing their transport habits : in brief, the municipality of Boden offered the bike, and the participants had to use it (or public transport if case of bad weather) 80% of all their daily travels. In the end, 7 of them totally changed their life-styles and chose to keep the bike – a real success.
We had lunch with her before welcoming Thomas Fägerman in the conference room, who talked about a European Union funded project called “North Waste Infrastructure”. This 3-year cooperation project is gathering the municipality of Boden, small-size companies, the county of Norrbotten and the University of Luleå in a research program on sustainable waste management. Among their main targets, the increase of biogas production in the region, the development of fertilizers made from waste, the improvement of the waste combustion process and the development of biofuels.
The conversation was very much oriented towards the way society could “return” to the eco-system the energy, the nutrients or whatever it takes from it – in brief the question was : “how to close the loop?”.
After this interesting work-shop, we got back Manfred and Gabriela from Luleå’s airport and made a small detour for a bit of sightseeing at Storfosen, the biggest waterfalls in Europe. Photos talk by themselves.
Then, without even being aware of it, we crossed the artic circle on our way to Jokkmokk (“river’s curve” in sami language).