Water Theme for SBBC Executive Lounge
Some 20 members and guests gathered at Hotel Scandic no 53 in Stockholm on June 12 to attend the last Executive Lounge before the summer break. Guests included first secretary Mr. Md. Ashraful Alam Mohon and the recently appointed Ms. Anna Vian, responsible for trade and IT, from the Bangladesh Embassy in Stockholm.
SBBC president Nathalie Tranefeldt welcomed all and gave a short introduction to the topic of the evening, pointing out the importance of free access to fresh water, something that 1.8 billion people in the World are lacking today. Nathalie Tranefeldt gave some examples of the many wellknown issues concerning water, as the increasing pollution of oceans, lakes and rivers, disappearing wetlands and accelerating shortage, caused by climate change. In Bangladesh the textile industry and tanneries use huge amounts of water and are the biggest polluters of the country’s many rivers.
The first speaker this evening, Mr. Sanjeev Sharma, CEO and co-founder of Exceldots AB, spoke about how the company can use information driven solutions to improve safe water access with IT, in order to accelerate the 6th SDG goal “Clean Water and Sanitation”. He pointed out some of the severe health problems that are caused by polluted rivers and even ground water, due to the lack of waste water treatment both from industries and from households and cities. Measurement is the key to make information based interventions, according to Sanjeer Sharma. The company has for example automated monitoring of water quality and created information systems that trigger action.
Exceldots had recently got in touch with the next speaker, Ms Viveka Risberg, Program Director Sustainable Production & Consumption at Axfoundation, a family-owned non-profit organisation that she described as a do-tank that wants to push sustainability with business as a driving force. Viveka Risberg, having lived in Bangladesh, painted a terrifying picture of Bangladesh’s state of emergency when it comes to the environment and people’s health – not only poor people but all who eat the poisoned local fish, for example. Adding to this, there are the rising sea levels due to more melt water coming down from Himalaya. Bangladesh has some legislation in place, but the government lack resources and has no power to enforce the laws. So what can be done? She pointed out that Axfoundation is not there to “help” – people in Bangladesh must help themselves. Viveka Risberg and her colleague Joakim Stattin is on a fact finding mission to find out if there is a way for Axfoundation to contribute and make change through collaboration. She had already had a meeting with the management of the powerful BGMEA, who visited Stockholm for the Global Change Award, pointing out that the problems concerning water is in fact a business risk to the industry. Apart from law enforcement, effective monitoring and circular solutions are needed, together with awareness programs for all stakeholders. Embassy of Sweden in Bangladesh and Business Sweden’s initiative Sustainable Fashion by Sweden, supported by H&M, Ikea and Lindex, is another good example. “We need a master-plan”, said Viveka Risberg. Her last picture remains in our minds – a cheerful? young boy, swimming in a black river full of waste.
After the speakers’ session people stayed on and mingled, discussing the evening’s topic and how each and everyone could support solutions for a better environment in Bangladesh. Some refreshments and finger food was served.
A conclusion from this meeting is that this huge problem must also be tackled with knowledge and experiences from other countries, and that Swedish green tech companies could be part of the solution. SBBC would be happy to contribute as a network, connecting stakeholders in Sweden and Bangladesh.
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