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Sweden in Phl celebrates National Day by Pioneering Green Transition

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This year marks 500 years since the birth of Sweden as a unified nation state

By Monsi A. Serrano
Photos from Embassy of Sweden in Manila

It is undeniable that Sweden is one of the most conscientious countries when it comes to sustainability and sustainable living. Boasting its natural resources such as verdant forests lushing with beautiful trees, as well as flora and fauna, and their majestic crystal clear lakes, regardless of the season you want to enjoy them.

Having been blessed with these natural resources, Sweden values sustainability. Needless to say, sustainability for them is a way of life with strong engagement and support from their citizens.

Interestingly, outside their country, sustainability remains a top agenda of Swedish people having been at the forefront of their crusade which they gladly share with the world. And cognizant of the importance of sustainability in life and growth and development of a country, the Embassy of Sweden in Manila marked the occasion with a business forum and a celebration themed “Pioneering the Green Transition: Innovating Now for a Sustainable and Livable Tomorrow.” The events highlighted the need for green and eco-friendly measures and practices to achieve sustainable socio-economic development. 

Sweden ranks 3rd in the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Report and 5th in the Climate Change Performance Index. Team Sweden in Manila has been actively promoting a green energy and industrial transition, sustainable transport solutions, a circular economy, and other measures preserving the environment and biodiversity. This is possible through the “quadruple helix model” which involves collaboration with the Philippine Government, Swedish and Filipino private sector, international development institutions and other expert communities such as academia, as well as advocates in civil society.

“In rapidly growing economies, a green sustainable transition will assist with socio-economic development. Sustainability in all aspects – environmental, social, and economic – is part of this and will lead to inclusion and better health and quality of life for all,” said Swedish Ambassador Annika Thunborg. 

Swedish companies in the Philippines move the green transition forward by implementing sustainable business processes in their operations in various industries. Energy companies such as ABB and Hitachi Energy are world leaders in electrification and in building transmission lines that include all. Atlas Copco utilizes energy efficiency to minimize energy waste; ICT giant Ericsson and manufacturers Electrolux (home appliances), SKF (bearings), and Swedish Match (smokeless tobacco products) use renewable energy sources like solar energy and waste to energy in their operations. 

Circular economy, a model which employs the reuse and regeneration of materials or products, is part of retail giants IKEA and H&M, as well as world leader-in-packaging Tetra Pak’s production processes.

Sustainable high-quality public transportation systems will help cities and urban areas to decongest and decrease pollution and shorten the time people spend in traffic. Swedish transportation company Scania is a world leader in biofuels and fuel-efficient engines, and Volvo develops electric and hybrid vehicles. They support the move for decarbonization and for comfortable public transportation for all. 

The green transition and socio-economic development can only take place if a country is able to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

TetraPak collection container for used beverage cartons

The Russian aggression against its neighbor Ukraine has shown how important it is that a nation can defend itself, says Ambassador Thunborg. Saab, one of the world’s leading producers of high-tech defense materials, also contributes to sustainability through its investments in innovation, capacity building and training, and gender equality programs. 

H&M textile recycling bin where guests were encouraged to donate clothes and textiles for recycling and upcycling

Other Swedish companies also practice social sustainability, a people-first approach emphasizing equality, diversity, and inclusion. BPO company Transcom and business solutions firm Retail Associates have capacity training programs to promote gender equality and recognition of LGBTQ+ rights. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is an expert in non-communicable diseases and invests in preventive healthcare and early detection of chronic diseases. Local bank BDO, a steadfast supporter of Team Sweden, continues to expand its Sustainable Finance initiatives, in place since 2010, towards funding new and existing energy efficiency projects including green buildings and vehicles.

“We are proud to have more than 40 Swedish companies in the Philippines that practices sustainability in their business operations, and leaders who work to have a greener and livable planet for future generations,” added Ambassador Thunborg.

From left, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps; Swedish Ambassador Annika Thunborg, DENR Secretary Toni Yulo Loyzaga, and DFA Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro at the 2023 Swedish National Day “Pioneering the Green Transition”

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga reaffirmed the commitment of the Philippine government to the green transition to socio-economic development.

“The Philippines and Sweden have had a long history of collaborative partnership in the management of our forests, coastal areas, and coral reefs.  At this turning point of our planet’s future, we look forward to deepening our partnership as we work towards a just transition in our respective journeys towards building our green and blue economy,”  said Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga.

From the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro, the Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs congratulated Sweden for the occasion. Usec. Lazaro led the Philippine Delegation at the 5th Political Consultations in Stockholm in April. 

“We look forward to a long-term partnership between the Philippines and Sweden as we continue to deepen our engagement in energy, trade, infrastructure, green transition, development cooperation, and defense,” said Usec. Lazaro.

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