05 July 2024

We are in the midst of the tough transition that will save our environment and lead to more sustainable development. “All our innovation capacity and knowledge will be needed,” says Marie Trogstam, LiU alumnus and now head of sustainability and infrastructure at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

Woman in safety helmet.
Marie Trogstam. Svenskt Näringsliv
When Marie Trogstam studied political science at Linköping University, she had a dream combination for her future. She wanted to go out into the world, but also work with a more local perspective. After being a business intelligence analyst, a business development specialist and working with international relations, sustainability issues took over. First at Saab, later at Telia, Business Sweden, AFRY and now with employers’ organisation, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
“I’ve always wanted to work with the power of the business world. It’s fantastic to be able to work with the potential for us in Sweden to be at the forefront of development and to pursue these important issues on a global level,” says Marie Trogstam.

Economic growth and climate work can go hand in hand

She sees no reason to change her approach. The climate and other important sustainability issues need to be addressed globally, but it is local efforts that make it possible. Despite the major challenges, what she sees in her contacts with companies in Sweden and the rest of the world makes her optimistic.
“There’s a strong drive to tackle the challenges, even though we’re still behind in achieving the climate targets. Sweden is leading the way with its innovation, and established and start-up companies are taking a lot more space, collaborating and showing that there are solutions.”
Marie Trogstam believes that Swedish companies have shown that economic growth and climate work can go hand in hand. While Swedish GDP has doubled since 1990, emissions have decreased by 37 per cent. And what is good for Sweden is good for the world.
“Swedish exports are crowding out more fossil-based production in other countries.  Already, Swedish exports are contributing to reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by almost 25 million tonnes. However, 40 per cent of Swedish exports depend on imports and therefore strategic partnerships are important to contribute to job creation and prosperity development in other countries as well.”

Increased pace

In Sweden, a continued expansion of infrastructure and initiatives to, for example, shorten the time needed for authorisation procedures are now required.
“The pace must be increased. This will involve large investments, just the maintenance debt on Sweden’s roads and railways is SEK 127 billion according to the Swedish Transport Administration, but to achieve economic growth and success in the challenges of the climate, social considerations and other important sustainability areas, we must invest.”

Scalable and usable

What can academia do? Marie Trogstam points to three things: innovations, expertise and facts.
“What researchers are developing in areas such as the circular economy or new production methods and materials must be scalable and usable by companies. Sustainability issues require increased expertise among economists, behavioural scientists and many others. Everything from vocational education and training to higher education in the natural sciences must be improved and general skills must be increased through, for example, lifelong learning.”
When all parts of society need to change, a systemic perspective and facts are required. Academia can contribute this, and then it will be easier to see the opportunities transition brings. All our innovation capacity and knowledge will be needed, is Marie Trogstam’s message.

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