Yesterday, Svante Axelsson, one of Sweden’s most well-known sustainability experts, visited Campus Ultuna to receive the SLU Alumnus of the Year award at a live-streamed ceremony. During the ceremony, Svante gave a thought-provoking speech on the climate challenges we face and factors that play a role in whether or not we will succeed in becoming a climate-positive society.
“I’m really proud to have been a student at SLU and grateful for what I learnt here. I remember when I sat here in this assembly hall many years ago, when I was deciding where to study. I was listening to a speech by one of the professors, and the message was clear. We need you, and the challenge is huge. So it was very easy to get me on board. SLU was the place for me”, says Axelsson.
Axelsson explains that if you want to solve problems like climate change, you need to take a holistic approach. Even when you specialise in different subjects, you need to acquire both broad and deep knowledge. A skill he developed during his studies at SLU.
“If you want to limit climate change, you need to know how we can handle the negative distributional effects when some products become more expensive and jobs actually disappear. So even if we would like to know more about how the agricultural sector could become climate-positive, we also need to know more about how to implement that change in an acceptable way”, he explains.
According to Axelsson, people today are more afraid of changes in society than climate change itself. That is why the transition to a climate-positive society is still slow.
“Understanding how a city like for example Skövde can transition if they can no longer manufacture engines for Volvo, and how to handle that, will be crucial in the future. If you can’t handle that, there will soon be a backlash. SLU students will play a key role in these efforts when they enter the labour market”, he concludes.
Did you miss the award ceremony?
The award ceremony and Axelsson's speech were recorded if you missed it or want to watch again.
You can also read more about Axelsson's work to make Sweden one of the first fossil-free welfare countries in the world and his own words about what it means to be appointed the award here.