Södra hosted EU visit with a focus on sustainable forestry
On 27 May, Södra welcomed the European Commission’s Representations to the Värö combined facility. The welcome speech was held by Catrin Gustavsson, President of the Södra Innovation business area, and the overall aim of the event was to discuss sustainable forestry, the role of the forest industry in Sweden’s growth, and joint solutions moving forward.
Sweden is holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union between 1 January and 30 June 2023. During each term of presidency, the host country arranges meetings and visits related to various issues such as security, competitiveness, the green transition, energy and democratic values. One important area of discussion is forest-related issues.
As a major player in our field, Södra was invited to arrange a field trip to show how sustainable forestry works in practice, to demonstrate the new CLT facility at Värö, and to present Södra’s view of how forests can promote innovation and sustainability with renewable solutions based on raw materials from members’ forests.
“We are delighted that the Commission’s Representations, which prepare recommendations to the Council and engage in negotiations with the Commission and the Parliament, took the time to visit us. It was a good opportunity to provide insight into Södra’s entire value chain, from members’ forests to finished products and innovations that are contributing to the climate transition,” said Marcus Svensson, Head of Public Affairs at Södra.
The delegation that visited Värö consisted of ambassadors and experts representing the EU’s 27 member states, about 100 participants in total. The Swedish delegation included Ambassador Torbjörn Haak, Deputy Head of the Swedish Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels, who works with a broad spectrum of issues, including the environment, transport, energy, agriculture and fisheries.
“A visit like this is an opportunity to present Sweden, what we represent and what we believe is important. In this respect, the forest industry and the role of forests are major issues for us and something we are really working with. During our visit to Sweden, we have tried to show the practical aspects of the legislation we are pursuing within the EU and that we prepare for our ministers across a wide range of areas, such as the transport sector, ecological and environmental challenges and what can be done with forests. Forest products have a huge range of applications, which is why we want to highlight them and share the diversity and approaches with our colleagues,” said Torbjörn Haak, Coreper I ambassador in Brussels.
Catrin Gustavsson, who gave the welcome speech, also emphasised the significance of showing the breadth of Södra’s value chain to the world and praised Värö as a fantastic showcase, where a wide range of activities are all located on the same site.
“Our combined facility at Värö is unique because there are so many types of expertise all gathered in the same place. Södra at Värö is commonly associated with Cell’s paper pulp and Wood’s sawmill, but we also have specialists in Forestry and Innovation on site, as well as our new business areas such as Bioproducts, Södra Building Systems with CLT, and OnceMore which converts members’ raw material into textiles,” said Catrin Gustavsson.
“Södra is the bridge between family forestry and consumers. The 51,000 members of Södra deliver renewable raw material to the mills, and the mills process the raw material – an industry that is also owned by the members. If there is one thing that I hope our visitors will take with them today, it is insight into our value chain and our values. Södra has its feet on the ground, ears to the wind and eyes on the horizon.”
The day ended with a panel discussion on a wide range of topics, including family forestry, the green transition, biodiversity, innovation in a ‘traditional industry’ and the role that Södra can play in a big-picture perspective.
“It’s always exciting to show what we are so proud of. In terms of our industry, as well as the opportunity to speak about Swedish forestry and family forestry. Our model is unique because although families own fairly small estates, they can work together and make a contribution to social development. The average size of estates in Södra is 50 hectares, but only 5 hectares are required to become a member. The size ranges from very small to slightly larger, but the core is that we are all working together,” said Mikaela Johansson, member of Södra’s Board.
“What I hope we have conveyed today is how we are working to combat climate change and how important it is with renewable products, but also that they have gained insight into family-owned forestry. I hope it sheds light on how small business owners are impacted by heavy regulations, that we are unique and important but may not be able to bear the same regulatory burden as a large company. I also hope they gained a sense of the future. Södra is working with the future. We are constantly evolving, and they can feel confident that we are part of this journey and willing to work together.”
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Subjects: About Södra
Subjects: About Södra