Swedish solutions for sustainable mobility
A conversation with Monica Enqvist, Press Counsellor and Head of Trade, Communication and Culture Department at Embassy of SwedenSeptember 21st, 2021
On Tuesday 21st September, the Embassy of Sweden hosted an event at the Center Rathenau, bringing together representatives from a variety of transportation and mobility firms such as Vässla, Nextbike and Vattenfall. During the discussion, they offered their solutions and ideas for a long-term transformation of the mobility sector, which is one of the most important areas for addressing the climate problem and executing the 2030 Agenda.
Marta Lamanna, Emmanuela Gogou, and Alienor Bonjour, members of the ICD, were honoured to visit the exhibition and conduct an interview with Mrs Monica Enqvist, Counsellor and Head of the Communication, Trade, and Culture Department at the Swedish Embassy in Berlin.
What was your main motivation when you first started this role? Could you tell us more about the Swedish embassy in Berlin?
I was working in Washington DC, promoting Sweden and thought that Germany is such an interesting country in many ways. They both have an excellent collaboration history. We have an innovation partnership between Sweden and Germany and we are working on so many projects together.
Germany is Sweden's biggest trade partner so the import and the export are very active, that is why I thought it would be fun to be posted in Germany, but also because of the prominent position of Germany in the European Union, that made me feel a little bit closer to home.
I think that our embassy is beautiful and promotes values that are important for us. It is made of wood and there is a lot of nature. The many glass windows represent how openness and transparency are crucial to us. The office buildings tell a story about an open, transparent, natural environment, but also they represent the importance of collaboration because the 5 Nordic embassies are all in the same complex.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic impact your work here at the embassy? And how did you manage to overcome it?
Of course, due to Covid 19, it was really hard for us all. My job is to work within promoting Swedish culture and Swedish business and trade. As head of Press Counselor, I also work with the press and in communications. The main aspect of my work is thereby making sure to spread the word on our activities to both countries.
I love digital diplomacy. You can do so much digitally while having a huge reach and great dialogue which makes people feel like they are part of something. You don’t have to meet in person but still have the ability to inspire. We sat down and thought about how we can still continue promoting different priorities for the Swedish government in Germany. We began with launching a platform called “Schweden Zu Hause”. In March 2020, when we all had to stay home, we thought that we could bring Sweden to the living room with this platform. Then we tried to do a program where we had everything; from interviews with authors to a Swedish coach giving training recipes to digital events about investment and business. We tried to give something to everyone.
Are there any main events, projects, and initiatives that are active for the embassy at this moment?
Sweden is a country in which equality is very important. We have the first feminine government in the world as well as an important feminist political forum. This is why we decided that we want to work within equality, innovation, creativity and sustainability.
We have planned three different events. One of them is concerning the 2030 Agenda. It is the second project and it will be open until October 3rd. We started working 10 years before this deadline and, as the Embassy wanted to focus more on it, we decided to organize exhibitions around Berlin.
We also organised talks with students. We met with politicians, journalists and then we moved the exhibition to another place. Due to coronavirus, we found other ways to achieve the things that we would normally do at the Embassy, for example, we launched an outside exhibition in front of Bikini Berlin.
One of the other projects is the Swedish Losvalinish brands. As an Embassy we are supporting our products by organizing lots of events. One of them is today's one about mobility and sustainability. We were doing plogging before, which means running while picking trash, as part of a Swedish idea. Last week we did a design event and before that, we had a fashion event running on. So we try as much as we can to use subjects concerning innovation, creativity, design and do other events linked to it.
The third and biggest event is the opening of the exhibition called “Yarny, Medusa und ein Elefant”. This will also be a design exhibition, as it is about the handcraft behind buildings and the 3 years of the famous Swedish computer games. This is not a typical game as it is about the creativity behind it and about starting to make movement in these jargon figures. It will last until the end of December. We also do a German-Swedish business day and a business enterprise gala every fall, so it is both trade as cultural diplomacy and in general Sweden public diplomacy talks.