INGRID JOHANSSON – The Ambassador of Sweden in Pakistan
EVOLVE: Please share with our readers,the road map of your professional journeysince inception?
H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson: I joined the Swedish Foreign Service in 2000, previously having a career both in the civil and private sectors in Sweden and overseas. As a diplomat, I have held various positions at the Foreign Ministry
in Sweden and been posted to North Korea and Kosovo.
EVOLVE: How do you opine about Pak-Swedentrade and business relations and whatcould be done to stimulate them further?
H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson: There is a strong interest from the Swedish industry to explore potential opportunities to do business in Pakistan. But Pakistan is still perceived by many
as a difficult environment to do business in, which is also manifested in the World Bank Doing Business Index. A consistent positive trend regarding the index would be very helpful to attract investors and trade partners abroad.
This would in turn require a more strategic approach of authorities to support the private sector, with a greater focus on the role of facilitator and service-provider. Also, Pakistans economy would benefit from removing or reducing tariffs on a wide range of commodities, thereby opening up for free trade and a level playing field for Swedish and European companies.
EVOLVE: In your view, why would it beimportant to further improve the levels ofgood governance, democracy and humanrights in Pakistan?
H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson: Nothing is more important. Democracy, civil rights, access to justice and good governance are prerequisites for long-term development and stability. This includes providing basic needs and rights for all, regardless of social background, gender, ethnic or other identity and thereby. This is
equally true for Pakistan as it is for Sweden. Swedens success as a state and economy is the result of long-term socio-economic policies with the aim of involving all citizens in all aspects of society. Our constitution of 1766 defined
the right of freedom of expression; it is the oldest bill on the subject in the world. Primary education was made obligatory in 1842. Higher education has been made free of charge in order to remove socio-economic hurdles. Today,
the skills level is very high, inclusion in the society and economy as well. With a population of only 10 million citizens, the GDP is considerably larger than that of Pakistan. Nothing of this would be possible without consistent reforms towards an inclusive society, rule of law and good governance.
EVOLVE: Kindly enlighten our readers about the revolutionary concept of SmartCities by Sweden and how this can be applied on Pakistans cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan?
H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson:Various projections show that in 2025, half of Pakistans population will live in
urban areas. The challenge for Pakistan, like for other countries, is to address the existing needs of the large urban centers while planning ahead for the continued population migration towards the cities. The key for sustainable urban development is to build denser, energy efficient and infrastructure efficient cities. Sweden and Swedish companies are in the forefront on sustainable urban solutions and have established an impressive track record as suppliers of smart solutions in all continents and adapted to the unique needs at each location.
Swedish cleantech solutions are in high demand worldwide. Sweden has worked for almost a century on building systems to convert waste to energy. Almost 100% of household waste is recycled
Swedish companies are already involved in such projects in Pakistan and we hope that much more will follow. There is a great match between Swedish solutions and Pakistan cities needs, but it is also clear that one size does not fit all. Swedish companies products and services can therefore be tailored for the Pakistan market and are scalable for small and large city solutions.
EVOLVE: In your view how Pakistan can benefitfrom Swedens hi-tech technology to generate powerfrom waste?
H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson: Swedish cleantech solutions are in high demand worldwide. Sweden has worked for almost a century on building systems to convert waste to energy. Almost 100 percent of household waste is recycled. What can not be used again will fuel heating plants. In Sweden there are currently 32 power plants turning waste to energy. This means that waste generates a value, instead of being a cost to society. Sweden even imports waste to fuel our power plants. Also Pakistan has shown interest and we hope to see power plants of this type in Pakistan within not too long.
EVOLVE: You work very hard as an Ambassador,what do you do to relax? Do you have any hobbies?
H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson: I have many interests, spanning from sports and speedy engines to literature, music and the arts. Since my work is mostly indoors, I particularly enjoy physical activities, the outdoors and exploring Pakistan. A dream of mine is to tour Pakistan by motorcycle.
EVOLVE: Your message to the readers of EVOLVEmagazine?
H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson: Pakistans progress as a nation and an economy ultimately depends on its ability
to provide socio-economic development, good democratic governance and rule of law to its citizens. All economic policies or efforts to attract foreign trade and investment, including CPEC, depend on these fundamentals in order to bring success and prosperity.