Forshaga municipality in Sweden is working hard to get political parties at municipal level to work together to tackle climate change – now they will be inspired in that effort by their partner municipality: Lundazi district council in Zambia.
Forshaga’s environmental managers had never thought of working internationally to reduce emissions until a meeting organized by Glokala Sverige the ‘Network for Global Goals’ changed all that.
–At the network meeting, someone from ICLD spoke to us about municipal partnerships and what they mean. It sounded exciting, but we were not sure that our small municipality could be involved, says sustainability strategist Ulrika Thorén at Forshaga municipality.
Yet as soon as she found out that ICLD covers all the costs and that Forshaga would only invest in projects they were already working on her doubts disappeared.
The pandemic made the partnership a bit difficult at first, as physical meetings could not be held. A shaky internet connection in Zambia did not help matters either. Yet somehow the parties have initiated a fruitful dialogue that is developing into something really interesting says Ulrika Thorén.
– We both have similar challenges: to become better at collaborating on the climate issue with everyone who lives and works within the municipality’s borders. It can be companies, organizations, universities and even residents in general. How do we get people motivated to act to reduce emissions?
Forshaga has struggled with the issue for several years now and has sought advice from other major municipalities in Sweden that have come further in the work. Among other things, they have learned not to try to include all possible parties at once but instead to form a network with about ten who can take the lead.
What do you think this partnership will achieve?
– Time will tell, but I already have a feeling that their vast experience of personal meetings can give us inspiration. As they have not come as far as we have in their digital development, they have to build much of their communication on personal meetings.
Ulrika Thorén highlights another possible effect of the future collaboration with Lundazi, creating a positive aura around working together to reduce climate impact:
– They have a rich storytelling tradition in the country and I just got hold of the book “Storytelling in Northern Zambia”. We also have such traditions in Värmland, from Gustaf Fröding to Selma Lagerlöf. Here I think we can meet and inspire each other and together create a positive story around climate work.
It also turned out that the two municipalities each had been thinking in similar ways, such as arranging trade fairs with different climate themes each year. And they both had the idea of presenting an annual award to someone who has done something particularly good to reduce emissions.
Ulrika Thorén is fascinated by how similarly they think, despite the fact that the actual conditions in their two municipalities differ. While Forshaga focuses on reducing emissions from, for example, traffic and industry, Lundazi must convince more people not to burn firewood, as it leads to harmful deforestation. Both communities have already experienced the effects of climate change, in particular Lundazi, which has been hit by a series of floods.
– Forshaga residents emit more per capita than the inhabitants of Lundazi, but it is the inhabitants of Lundazi who are more severely effected by climate change. This tells us why we need to work on these issues together, says Ulrika Thorén.