Sweden: A model for environmentally-friendly campaigns

Malaysian national Mohd Shafiq Sharhan bin Zainal from Blekinge Institute of Technology's NFGL Local Network reflects on how the Swedish focus on sustainability was carried out during the election campaigns of September.

Sweden: A model for environmentally-friendly campaigns
Photo: Mohd Shafiq Sharhan bin Zainal

On September 9th 2018, Swedes went to carry out their democratic duty at the polls.  As a newly-arrived student from Malaysia, I couldn’t help but notice the focus on sustainability carried through the whole campaign pre-election in Sweden compared to what I experienced in Malaysia when we went to vote on May 9th.

Photo: Elections in Malaysia 

I observed a difference in how election campaigns are run in Sweden compared Malaysia, with a focus on sustainability and especially cleanliness and cost saving. Most of the campaign materials, posters and banners were displayed in designated locations using appropriate advertising spaces. Even in the heat of the election period, no banners or signs were placed randomly which is definitely not the case in Malaysia.

For the most part, campaign materials only had photos of the candidate and their respective political parties. Additional information was available on their websites. It was almost impossible for me, and I assume for anyone else visiting Sweden during this time, to notice that there was a pre-election campaign running, just because of the respect of advertising rules.

I also noticed that after the elections, campaign materials were immediately removed, replaced by other business advertisements. Irrespective of the results of the polls, it was business as usual, and everything continued as if nothing had happened. The opposite of this happens in Malaysia as a result of the sheer amount of campaign materials that have been used. It requires a lot of work and human resources to clean the cities of the mess caused during campaigns. As of now, there are still some remnants of the last election yet to be cleaned!

Photo: Elections in Sweden

The campaign advertisements in Sweden mainly abstained from using plastic and paper for posters and banners. This is entirely different from what I’ve seen in Malaysia and in other countries. The rules of the Swedish campaign advertising is, in my opinion, a model to be followed by other countries for a more sustainable future.






Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.