European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Sweden

Ten keys to local management of natural resources


In Sweden, previous attempts to decentralize natural resource management have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. The chairman of the Swedish small islands association Bengt Almkvist (who is also chairman of ESIN) has, together with other stakeholders, written a much noticed article in one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers. They have identified ten key policy measures to strengthen the local government:

  1. Support decentralized management: previous attempts have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. Hence the need for clearer directives and regulations from the government to the provincial governments and the local players.
  2. The vital biological diversity that exists in Sweden has been shaped by people’s cultivation of natural resources. We must recognize the importance of reindeer and pasture farmers and of small-scale fishermen.
  3. Develop a comprehensive rural development policy.
  4. Make natural resource management part of the climate transition.
  5. Develop the skills of the county administrative boards. Research has shown that previous initiatives did not yield the desired effect, partly because of resistance from the authorities to use the new knowledge.
  6. Integrate local management and green infrastructure: there is a need for better planning of the landscape and its resources named by various terms, such as the ecosystem approach, regional landscape strategies and most recently green infrastructure.
  7. Evaluate and research: we need an independent investigation of the effects of the government’s work for the local administration. Research is also needed to develop models of local governance.
  8. Population and Nature Conferences are important platforms for knowledge sharing and dialogue between the local community level and politicians.
  9. Create a permanent hub for local and traditional knowledge: continuous, long-term efforts to integrate different kinds of knowledge, perspectives and values in the management structure.
  10. Refund from natural resources: wind, hydro, mining and forestry are some examples of areas that should be analyzed in order to develop national guidelines for optimized resource management. This may involve reallocating some national taxation powers to the municipal / local level, the reversal of the natural resource fees and improved opportunities for participation. This could involve the development of incentives for greater democracy, greater commitment, better conservation and generally improved opportunities for rural development.

Change of chair in Sweden


Skärgårdarnas Riksförbund – SRF – the National Association for the Swedish Archipelago) was established in 1982 and covers, among other things, matters relating to employment, housing and transportation. During April, Sune Fogelström from Möja island took over as chairman after Bengt Almkvist, who has been the leader of SRF almost from its startup nearly thirty years ago.

Bengt has been of incalculable benefit to SRF and to the 32,000 islanders they represent. A cool diplomat in the Swedish tradition, Bengt is always running on low gear but covering astonishing mileage both mentally and literally as there are 580 small, un-bridged islands along the coasts and in the lakes of Sweden. His four greatest hits may well be the following:

1 When SRF after ten years (1993) managed to get funding from the Rural Development Agency to be used for designing a program for the Swedish archipelagos. This was the the first time SRF actually could to influence the development of the islands.

2 When SRF after fifteen years (1998) managed to get yearly grants from the Swedish government under Prime Minister Göran Persson, and could employ a secretary.

3 When SRF during a meeting at Möja island (2001) took lead in the creation of ESIN and hosted its first presidency.

4 When SRF after twenty years (2003) was able to get EU funds to implement the project Archipelago for the future which resulted in ten White Papers.

Not an easy task for Sune Fogelström to succeed such a guy as Bengt – but Sune is no rookie, having been in the SRF Board of Directors for ten years and a member of its working committee. We wish him the best of luck!

Bengt & Sune 1 Carin Tellström Skärgården

Bengt and Sune, photo by Eva Widlund, Skärgården

National funding granted for Swedish archipelagos


The national federation for the associations of the Swedish archipelagos – SRF (ESIN’s Swedish member) – has been accorded a three-year grant from the Swedish government.

The grant which comprises over 0,5 million euro for 2016-2018 was communicated last Thursday February, 3. It is an increase compared to previous years to make special attention to equality, diversity and inclusion possible.

– The efforts SRF is conducting addresses a variety of challenges in our archipelagos. It supports the development capacity of Sweden’s archipelagos, says Minister of Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht.

– The decision is most welcome, says Bengt Almqvist, chairman of SRF. The Government sees the importance of the work we do to improve conditions to keep our archipelagos alive, all-year-round. It has also been recognized that a stable core operation is a prerequisite to manage this work. We will administer their confidence well.