Wood builds democracy

Editorials by Mikael Eliasson

The nail guns crack away and the large building in central Växjö is a hive of activity. For a few months now, VIDA has been producing modules for student accommodation. This is an example of a conscious and progressive municipality taking responsibility for community planning, regional development and the climate. An efficient, market­driven wood and wood construction industry provides products and know-how. The factory in Växjö is an example of how we work, based on democracy, a market economy and collaboration between business and society.

Our democratic traditions and multifaceted business world are two of the reasons why Sweden spent many years in the top three on the global innovation index and in 2016 hit second place. Sweden and a few other countries in the world can claim to have a long, unbroken history of democracy. Although it can’t perhaps be compared with today’s standards, we have had a representative democracy since the Riksdag of the Estates was created.

Alongside clear ownership rights, laws and democratically governed state administration, the system promoted values and a mode of governance that has laid the foundation for today’s society, although we are on our way to losing a unique heritage of unimpeachable state administration. A free market has itself contributed development, entrepreneurship and innovation.

It was the combined power of the forest and iron ore that gave us a place at the table of global trade. As the economy transitions towards greater sustainability, the importance of our forest and our bioproducts is growing in a literal sense. The right of ownership that ensures the long-term commitment of several hundred forest owners has helped to build up Sweden’s forest capital as a strong resource for the future, in contrast to countries where state-controlled forestry has led to corruption, poor management and overfelling.

As China, the world’s second biggest economy, seeks to develop its forestry and construction sector so that it can support a more sustainable society, Sweden is providing knowledge of private forestry, industrial wood construction and systems of innovation. Wood builds democracy!

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