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DIPLOMAT - Dr Lisa Svensson is a diplomat by training and has been in the diplomatic service since 2002, posted in New York, Washington D.C. and Brussels. As the Swedish Government’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh Water, Dr Svensson is advising the Minister for the Environment on a broad spectrum of marine and ocean affairs.
Earlier appointments include Ambassador for Corporate Social Responsibility. In this capacity she contributed to the Government of Sweden’s efforts to further public-private engagement, developing an innovative platform for the Government’s work with companies and other relevant stakeholders. Dr Svensson had been Sweden’s National Expert of Sustainable Development working in the European Commission, DG Trade, where she was the lead negotiator for the sustainable development chapters in the EU Free Trade Agreements.
Dr Svensson holds a PhD in Political Economy, Innovation Policies and Practice. She has been a Diplomat-in-Residence at the Johns Hopkins University, and has received fellowships from Sweden-American Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the Dr Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
Dr. Lisa Emelia Svensson is a diplomat by training and has been in the diplomatic service since 2002, posted in
D.C. and Brussels. As the Swedish Government’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh
Water, Lisa Emelia Svensson is advising the Minister for the Environment on a broad spectrum of marine and ocean affairs.
As the Ambassador for Ocean, Dr Svensson works as an interagency function with Government offices in
Sweden, enabling a consistent international ocean agenda supporting ocean health. Earlier appointments include Ambassador for Corporate Social Responsibility. In this capacity she contributed to the Government of Sweden’s efforts to further public-private engagement, developing an innovative platform for the Government’s work with companies and other relevant stakeholders for Global Partnership on sustainable development.
Dr. Svensson had been Sweden’s National Expert of
Sustainable Development working in the
Commission, DG Trade, where she was the lead negotiator for the sustainable development chapters in the EU Free Trade Agreements. She holds a PhD in Political Economy, Innovation Policies and Practice.
Dr. Svensson has been a Diplomat-in-Residence at the Johns Hopkins University, (SAIS), where she conducted a book “Combating Climate Change”, that offers recommendations on how to move forward and engage governments and business communities alike. She has received fellowships from: Sweden-American Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the Dr. Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
APRIL 2015 - The sixteenth meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (ICP-16) opened on 6 April 2015 at the UN Headquarters in New York. This year’s topic is: “oceans and sustainable development: integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely, environmental, social and economic.” In the morning, delegates heard opening remarks from the Co-Chairs, Amb. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra and Amb. Don MacKay, Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, a statement delivered on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, followed by statements by countries and groups.
In the afternoon, the discussion panel on “The environmental, social and economic dimensions of oceans and progress made in integrating the three dimensions, including an overview of activities and initiatives promoting their integration” included presentations by: Elliot Harris, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Brandt Wagner, International Labour Organization; Paul Holthus, World Ocean Council; and Lisa Emelia Svensson, Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Freshwater, Sweden.
TARA EXPEDITIONS INTERVIEW SEPTEMBER 2015
Can you explain your role as an ambassador?
I work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as an ambassador for the oceans, I defend the Swedish perspectives on the protection of the oceans. I’m focusing on the challenges facing the ocean, but also on how to raise this debate to more a political level. We have the knowledge, publications, and information, but we still need to raise
public awareness about these challenges! How do we make a link so policy makers can actually use the information and do something about it? In the context of the
United Nations climate conference and the post-2015 agenda, we have one clear goal – the
ocean. So now the important thing is: how do we implement this goal?
In order to complete this challenge at the end of the year, what relationship must there be between private initiatives such as Tara Expeditions and public or political initiatives? What is the role of these initiatives?
Tara Expeditions has two dimensions. You are a scientific boat and also a private foundation. From our perspective, science should be the foundation of all decisions because it informs us on what’s happening, and on this basis we have to make policy decisions. These strategic initiatives cannot be made or should not be made without knowing how to act. Of course, it’s always a challenge: when do we have enough scientific knowledge?
What does science tell us? Sometimes it shows how little we know about a subject – for example, the ocean. But we have to take this precautionary principle before making any decisions. And of course when it comes to politics, there are also many other variables to take into account, such as
economics, as well as social and political decisions. So when working with science, policy interface is crucial. Tara Expeditions is a science-based organization, but also serves educational and informational purposes, as for example today’s seminar.
What are your expectations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21)? What are our chances of reaching a serious agreement?
Obviously we all hope to reach an agreement, and I think it’s important we all agree upon the legal instruments to implement. It is essential to raise public awareness about the ocean’s status – both as a regulator of climate but also regarding the impact of
climate change on this ecosystem.
Why aren’t the oceans taken into account on the climate issue?
I think our awareness about the health of the oceans is 30 to 40 years behind our consciousness of climate change. Tara has been working on plastics for 5 years, meaning scientists have been studying
plastic waste in the ocean for 5 years. But that is currently the extent of our knowledge on the subject, whereas for climate change, we have access to long-term measurements. So we know more about
climate change and have thus been able to disseminate information on this subject for a longer time. We have detailed reports and algorithms on climate, and its evolution is foreseeable. In contrast, for the first time this year, we attended a seminar presenting an assessment report of the world ocean. We are currently working on this collective report in preparation for the upcoming United Nations conference. The final report will come in December.
Interview by Noëlie Pansiot
- Dr Lisa Emelia Svensson is a diplomat by training, currently Sweden’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh Water, providing advice and expert guidance to the Minister for the Environment on the action needed to move forward on Sweden’s international ocean and water agenda.
Prior posts include Ambassador for Corporate Social Responsibility, where she involved with the private sector on how to incorporate environmental and social values in business models for enhancing
competitiveness and economic growth.
She was Sweden’s national expert to European Commission Directorial General for Trade, where she led negotiations on sustainable development chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements. Dr Svensson has been a Diplomat in Residence at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS, Washington D.C., where she carried out research on climate, energy and environmental issues and published the book “Combating Climate Change – A Transatlantic Approach to Common Solutions” published in August 2008.
She has been posted in New York, Washington D.C. and Brussels. She holds a PhD in Business Management, focusing on policies and action programmes to stimulate economic growth and innovation.
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