Building bridges and dancing with dragons in Almedalen

By Linda Björk, Senior Engagement Manager at GES

Last week, the medieval city of Visby on Gotland, off the coast of Sweden, once again provided a beautiful setting for a forum that gathers politicians, journalists, investors, business leaders and NGOs to debate, discuss and drum up support. Initiated over forty years ago, the annual Almedalen week is considered as the most important event in Swedish politics and it truly is a splendid opportunity to make new contacts and learn new things. At this year’s event, GES participated in several seminars as well as in a round table discussion about supply chain management, and also spoke on a panel focusing on municipalities’ sustainable management of pension savings.

For anyone attending Almedalen, the challenge is to choose between all the inspiring seminars and I often end up running from one to another and having to choose between two equally interesting ones that run parallel. The offerings within the responsible investment theme are rich but there is also an enormous range of other talks that may be closely related or with completely different perspectives. Two visitors to Almedalen can have contrasting views on what seemed to be this year’s theme. It’s easy to get caught in your own sphere of interest.

There is no doubt, however, that this is a unique meeting point for representatives with diverse backgrounds and agendas when activists, politicians, scientists, business people and investors gather to discuss climate change, for example, in a seminar. During this week the distance between different titles and professions does seem to diminish, the atmosphere makes people relaxed, and new contacts are made. That said, the next time I am attending Almedalen I will make sure to leave room for unexpected elements in my schedule in between the ones related to responsible investments. After all, it is from completely new contexts you can get the most innovative ideas and fresh perspectives on the things you work with every day. I did at least have a bit of diversion from my schedule this year when dancing with the dragon from the Swedish children’s programme Bolibompa…


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