Birgitta Ohlsson in Warsaw
I remember I wrote a blog perhaps a year ago that was called “Tight Tuesday”. Yesterday I had one more of the kind – and a most inspiring one.
First of all because we had a visit to Warsaw by our Minister for European affairs Birgitta Ohlsson and two of her staff members. That obviously meant a meeting with her Polish colleague Piotr Serafin, discussing a broad range of issues like improving the single market and strengthening the democratic legitimacy of the EU for a whole hour. My impression is repeatedly confirmed: We have so much in common and benefit so much from working together.
Additionally the visit had quite a strong thematic focus on gender equality and the rights of LGBT-people, issues very close to the heart of Minister Ohlsson, to the Swedish Government and indeed to our Embassy here in Warsaw. We organised a lunch with representatives from Feminoteka, MaMa, Women’s Congress and the Campaign against Homphobia. http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=522181157840584&set=a.129439870448050.19718.119085241483513&type=1&theater. And in the afternoon Birgitta Ohlsson gave a speech on LGBT-rights at the Conference ”Freedom of expression for LGBT-people” organised by Council of Europe in co-operation with the Sejm. The visit to the Sejm also included meetings with Deputy Speaker Wanda Nowicka, the Chairperson of the EU-Committee MP Agnieszka Pomaska and MP Robert Biedroń.
For Polish speakers I can recommend the interview with Birgitta Ohlsson by PAP through this link: http://wiadomosci.wp.pl/kat,1342,title,Szwedzka-minister-Brigitta-Ohlsson-prawa-LGBT-to-element-fundamentalnych-praw-czlowieka,wid,15426387,wiadomosc.html?ticaid=11042f
In parallell I was one of the inaugurators in a quite different activity: a conference on “Energy in Municipalities” co-organised by the Ministry for Regional Development and our Embassy with a strong focus on how to create sustainable energy systems on the local level with Swedish experts sharing their experiences. http://www.swedenabroad.com/pl-PL/Embassies/Warsaw/Wiadomoci-i-wydarzenia/Wiadomoci/Energia-w-miastach-sys/ A huge number of officials from different cities of Poland were present. I counted to over seventy people.
I had the pleasure of hosting the participants yesterday evening in our Residence and got some initial impressions from the dialogue during the day (which I to a large extent missed due to the Ministerial visit). A couple of messages kept resonating in my mind. One partly because it is one of my favourite themes: the need to complete the change of mindset around waste. To stop seeing waste as waste but rather to see it as a resource wich has happened in Sweden and is starting to happen in Poland. And a second impression one of the Polish participants shared with me: There is a systemwide approach around these issues in Sweden. We don’t treat energy issues and transport issues and waste issues as separate areas but integrate them in systems where the waste from one part becomes input to another part.
I saw some small scale encouragaing examples along these lines during the visit my wife Karin and I made to Lubuskie region last week. The Swedish company First Recycling inaugurated a station for collecting paper and plastics in Gorzów Wlkp and one part of their initial work had been to engage school children in a competetion around paper collection. http://www.swedenabroad.com/pl-PL/Embassies/Warsaw/Wiadomoci-i-wydarzenia/Wiadomoci/Ambasador-Szwecji-z-wizyt-w-wojewodztwie-lubuskim-sys/
The paper recovered as part of that competetion meant reduced CO2-emissions comparable to six cars being driven for one year!
There is so much more that could be said about this visit (that included also Gniezno, the cradle of Poland, on the way back to Warsaw). But now today’s programme will start in some minutes with a lesson in Polish.
More blogging some other day.