Children, Baltic Sea – and food ingredients…
I have quite a diversified week behind me.
Last Saturday started with a conference arranged by the National Bank of Poland on European integration with a special focus on the Eurozone, very pertinent theme for obvious reasons.
It continued along a totally different line: children, children’s rights and “tabu’s” being addressed in children’s literature. I participated in the inauguration of an exhibition around this theme at Atelier Foksal – arranged by the Danish cultural institute and supported i.a. by our Embassy.
Why is that important? Because addressing the “tabu’s” – like death, illness, divorces – in communication with children is a way of respecting them as individuals. Because these are the ways in which we can break with the old, outdated, destructive ways of treating children. When we show that we take them seriously then we will see them grow up to adults taking others seriously, showing others respect, encouraging others to be heard.
When you address and illustrate also difficult issues you stimulate the willingness to understand – also the complexity of life which eventually will face them. And when you break with the top-down approach you get creativity back.
Of course one of the main elements in everything that Astrid Lindgren did, wrote and stood for was to respect children as individuals – addressing also some very difficult themes (like death in Brothers Lionheart or alcoholism in Madicken).
Still, children’s literature in Sweden is so much more than Astrid Lindgren. This is obvious in the exhibition, and I was happy to see how much there actually is translated into Polish. And literature from several other countries is there as well. I really hope that the exhibition will continue to catch the attention not least from Polish teachers and parents that it really deserves.
Moving on to a much broader theme that dominated the rest of my week – Baltic Sea Cooperation – that took me to a great forum in Gdansk. A fascinating experience to meet hundreds of stakeholders from all around the Baltic Sea, deeply involved in an increasingly tight interaction, addressing key challenges like the environmental degradation of the Sea itself as well as developing the potential as a dynamic region of innovation and growth.
During the Swedish EU Presidency the EU Baltic Sea Strategy was launched that now constitutes the framework for very much of the ongoing activities. I was happy to receive the Swedish Minister for Environment Lena Ek as well as many other prominent Swedish representatives. And not least happy to see how much the Baltic Sea Unit of Sida – soon to be merged into the Swedish Institute – is contributing to networking and project preparation.
Back to Warsaw I gave a speech at “Innovative Food Ingredients”, an event arranged by the Swedish Trade Council creating opportunities for Swedish producers to do some matchmaking with possible Polish partners. One of several ways to take the concept of Sweden as the new culinary nation a step forward. Food already represents 15% of the total Swedish export to Poland but there is definitely a potential for more, and the company presentations I listened to were very concrete and attractive (though I admit I may be biased in their favour of course…).
Three very different themes dominating the week – but all of them representing key areas of work for our Embassy. And will continue to do so.