Wednesday 5th – Borgholm

 

This Wednesday was the first big seminar day.
Manfred Max Neef that had been a part of the tour during the last days was going to be the keynote speaker. Manfred is the developer of an economic system based on basic human needs for which he has won the “Right livelihood award”, also referred to as the alternative nobel price. To have such a great thinker as Manfred attending the tour was an honor far greater than most people could understand, and people had been looking forward to hear him speak about “the new economy paradigm” during the whole week.
This seminar was an open seminar which meant that people from the area also attended the conference. It gathered a group of about 30 people.
Lisbeth Lennartsson, chairman of the executive board of Borgholm opened up the conference by giving a brief introduction to Borgholm.
After the welcome Torbjörn Lahti took over by giving the background about Sweden, how it has become what it is today and how it is working at the moment, also giving a quick introduction to the terms of backcasting and the 4 system conditions. http://www.naturalstep.org/backcasting http://www.naturalstep.org/the-system-conditions
He also spoke about the big UN conference in New York at the 2nd of April this year on which he had been participating as one of the world’s experts on sustainability. This conference was initiated by the country of Bhutan as a first try to create a new economic paradigm for the world. The main idea about this new economic paradigm was that it would serve the people and be based on happiness instead of economic growth.

With this introduction to the seminar it was time for the first “fika” coffee break (and boy do swedes love their fika judging from the huge amount of food!)

After the introduction the topic of a new economic paradigm had already been dropped and who knew better about that then Manfred Max Neef?! With his great skills for presentation and a lot of humor and charisma Manfred captured and twisted the minds of the audience for two hours, starting out in a very philosophical way and slowly narrowing it down to his own theories about the 9 basic human needs. A lot of critisism was delivered to the idea of economic growth as a sign of progress (no one could possibly have left the room as a growth supporter) and the story about how he in search for what differentiated humans from animals started studying the “stupidology”.

 

“Economy should serve the people, not people serving the economy.”

 

“Drift in alertness. The people that know where they are going never discover anything.” – about the so call “fixed point obsession”

 

Not many people left for lunch with the same view of the world as before.

Many people enjoyed the two hours lunch break and took the opportunity to clear their head on a walk in the sunny weather.

 

After lunch the environmental ambassador for Kährs, Bruce Uhler talked about Kähr’s “FSC and fairtrade timber project” for improving forest rights, biodiversity, sustainable development and corporate CSR in Curacautin, Chile. The main topic was sustainable entrepreneurship and the responsibility and power of the consumer. A rather odd change of topic but still interesting.

 

The day finished with Eva Alfredsson presenting the results for a study called “Sweden’s decision makers view of green economy”. As she couldn’t be there physically she held her lecture virtually over the internet. Technique isn’t famous for being reliable so unfortunately the webcam didn’t work and the microphone caused an echo every time someone from the audience tried to ask a question. This caused a lot of laughter and made the communication between Eva and the audience quite hard.
Despite this Eva managed to follow through with the presentation.

Because of changes in the schedule the seminar ended there and people were left to discuss during the second fika of the day and to enjoy some free time. The big favorite on the fika table was without doubt the “biskvi” pastry. Here’s the recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolate-biskvi-74344

The people that weren’t resting or taking a walk joined in on a volleyball tournament in the very windy weather. How much of that volleyball game that was spent in the water trying to catch the ball that had flown away is not to be told…

As a special treat for the participators Tommy Lindström had prepared a tasting of “kroppkakor, the special dish of Öland. http://www.food.com/recipe/swedish-kroppkakor-61420

On the way there you had the possibilities to try the electric car or the electric bike.

As if it hadn’t been enough food for the day the dinner was held at the small restaurant “Sörens krog”. Afterwards people scattered in different directions, some for a night walk to Borgholm’s castle and some for calmer activities at the hotel.

September 4th – Borgholm

 

After a short night’s sleep the participants woke up to a bright blue sky and light winds over Borgholm harbor. Stuffed on the extremely filling hotel breakfast the weather called for a morning reflection session with all the participants on the deck outside the hotel. Although just 3 days had passed the group felt like they had known each others for years which is not as unusual as it sounds when you are traveling, sharing and learning together.

A busy day with a lot of study visits lay ahead.

The program started at Strand Hotel with a presentation of the Eco municipality of Borgholm.

Sustainable Sweden Southeast which is a corporation of environmental technology companies, was presented by the project coordination Annika Karpfors. The energy and climate strategist Tommy Nilsson presented the climate and energy plan for Borgholm and Stig Bertilsson, the entrepreneur from Norrby Wind AB presented the cooperative Alböke Wind Farm. http://www.istadwind.se

The rather curious group had a lot of questions to be answered and the schedule got a little delayed as usual.

The presentations were followed by a study visit to the mentioned Wind Farm which was pretty windy at the time. Everything from the productivity of the wind turbines to the problem with the social acceptance was discussed. The question of whether or not the cows in the acceding pastures approved of the wind turbines remained an unanswered question.

After the study visit to Alböke Wind Farm the bus took us over to Brofästet in Kalmar where we enjoyed a lunch accompanied by a presentation of Vatten och Samhällsteknik by Åsa Blixte. She talked about their work on water resource management, land use management, waste management, environmental protection and planning and urban design. www.vosteknik.se http://www.symbiocity.se

As the theme had been water management the next study visit led us to the stormwater facility Kalmar Dämme which is a wetland park where they use natural treatment methods to clean the water from its’ nitrogen content. After being still for such a long time listening to presentations and eating a lot of food for lunch the walk was appreciated.

But time was running out and the group had to be going to the next study visit at the flooring manufacturer Gustaf Kährs AB. This flooring manufacturer, located in Nybro has more than 150 years of experience of eco-friendly wood flooring technologies. This means for example that all the waste from the sawmills go to either district heating or carbon-neutral electricity (in form of wood ship pellets), they’re not using dissolvents, they’re just using suppliers of lumber with a FSC-certificate and they’re taking responsibility for the cleaning of the water used in the industry. http://www.kahrs.com/sv-SE/About-Kahrs/Environment/Environmental-Work

A good example of a more eco friendly industry.

By this time most of the participators were really tired. All the impressions and the traveling had taken a lot of energy. Especially for the soon 80 years old Manfred Max Neef that had decided to join the study visits for the afternoon. Yet there was still one more place to visit.

Strengthened with some coffee the participators got to visit Euronom AB to learn more about the Flexifuel system, www.euronom.se/5_Produkter_-_Villa a revolutionary heating system that makes it possible for private houses and smaller premises to heat their houses mixing many different energy sources. With some more answered questions, hungry stomachs and tired minds the group said good bye to Benn Karlberg and the rest of the staff at Flexifuel and took the bus back to Strand Hotel in Borgholm.

Back at the hotel the participants got 40 minutes of private time, not much with such a busy schedule but enough to rest a bit or take a walk into Borgholm centre.
Dinner was once again taking place at the Strand Hotel restaurant at the windows overlooking the sunset. As always with this group of revolutionary minds the conversations ended up in political discussions about trivialities like how to change the world. Also a lot of french and swedish language exchange was taking place.
For those fed up with the conversations the swimming pool, sauna and/or the Baltic Sea offered a good alternative but for the “staff” still many hours of work remained…

September 3rd – Karlskrona

 

Sun, 15 celsisus degrees, 30% of humidity.

It was time for us to go to the County Administrative Board of Blekinge (Blekinge Länsstyrelsen) in the port of Karlskrona for a morning workshop. Day started with the official presentation of the Sustainable Sweden Tour and all the participants. It was the occasion to have a little teambuilding moment when each one spoke out to present themselves, and added what kind of furniture they would have been (very important).

The workshop started with a presentation of Kenneth Gyllensting about SEKOM, the Swedish National Association of Eco-Municipalities, that is now gathering 84 eco-municipalities since its creation in 1995. Which is to say that nowadays more than 30% of all swedish municipalities base their municipal development on the TNS (The Natural Step) framework and the 4 system conditions.Then Kenneth Gyllensting talked about the eco-municipality of Karlskrona and the achievements of this world heritage naval city towards sustainability.

After a little “fika” (the sacred swedish “coffee break”), the workshop would continue with Heleen Podsedkowska presenting us the Blekinge Biosphere Reserve, an archipel of beautiful islands which is to be protected, developed and enjoyed.

Lisa Wälitalo succeeded to her with a presentation about the Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden, working with public sector organizations about climate and energy strategies. Among their missions, they were targeting for the region of Blekinge a 40% reduction of GES, a 20% energy efficiency rate, and 80% of renewable energies for the year 2020 (in comparison to the 202020 European Union objectives).

Then it was time for Hans-Olof Svensson to take a speech about different windpower cooperation projects between South Baltic countries (the South Baltic Offshore Wind Energy Regions project founded by the European Union), arousing lots of questions.

Quick lunch time. Followed by a short study visit of the recycling center of Bubbetorp in Karlskrona municipality. Then the group took the bus to BTH (the Blekinge Institute of Technology), where Göran Broman was waiting for us with 50 of his new arrived students for the next semesters. He presented the work of the Institute with sustainability and the 2 masters programs that they offer : MSLS (Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability) and MSPI (Sustainable Product-Service System Innovations).

We then listened to Torbjörn Lahti for a presentation of the Sustainable Sweden Tours addressed to the BTH students coming from 28 different countries all together. The rest of the conference turned into a debate about old and new economics with Manfred Max-Neef as the main speaker. The session got us to realize that in our fight for sustainable economics we are a “big cloud of mosquitos attaquing – and soon defeating – a very resistant rhinoceros”.

This second day finished with a bus drive us to Borgholm, crossing the bridge over the baltic sea to go to Öland (the second biggest island of Sweden). Rest of the day basically occured as follows :

Nice dinner washed down with beer and wine.
Birthday songs (again) washed down with swedish snaps.
Swimming Pool.
Sauna.
Baltic Sea midnight bath.
Sauna again.
Beers.
Disgusting swedish salty licorice candies.
Piano!
Beds…

First day : Sept 2nd – rendez-vous in Copenhagen!

 

IN A NUT SHELL :
Tired leaders met with participants.
Almost everyone there.
Danish train mess.
Return of the left behind canadian.
Welcoming at the boat.
Good food.
Good wine.
Good company.
Looking forward for tomorrow.

12.00 Copenhaguen Airport
Fortunately everyone found each other in the arrival hall (thanks to our wonderful home made “Sustainable Sweden Tour” panel), and we gathered most of the participants. Natalia Porowska (from Magdalena Islands, Québec) would join us later during the day.

14.00 Danish trains then won the reputation to be an incredible mess ; a bounding moment that would eventually lead us to our first stop : Karlskrona!
Karlskrona is an eco-municipality and also the administrative place of SEKOM (the Swedish National Association for Eco-Municipalities).

18.00 Kenneth GYllensting, SEKOM’s coordinator and responsible for the eco-municipality of Karlskrona welcomed us at the train station and lead us to the yellow-and-red-tipical-swedish-wooden-houses of the Hotel Conrad.
Then it was time for the city mayor, Mats Lindbom, to welcome us on board for a boat tour all around the islands of the archipel of Blekinge, that as recently been nominated as a UNESCO natural biosphere reserve.
We enjoyed a nice dinner together with some civil servants from the municipality of Karlskrona, which also was the occasion to sing happy birthday songs (in the honnor of Josée Provençal,from Montréal, Québec) in 4 languages! (english, swedish, french and spanish)

22.00 First day ended with a drink in a bar in town for some of us, and with a revigorating sauna at the hotel for the others! Vi ses i morgon!