In 2020, COVID-19 has stopped international travel. However, sustainable cooperation between China and Sweden is enhancing and continuing. In the middle of October, two virtual conferences on Sino-Swedish sustainable cooperation were organised and held by the Chinese Embassy in Sweden, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and Smart City Sweden.

Since 2015, the Sino-Swedish Smart City Conference has been held three times in Stockholm. Due to the pandemic, the fourth edition of the conference was held online on October 15th. How the pandemic will affect urban planning and design, successful collaboration projects in smart city construction, new business opportunities was some of the topics discussed during the conference.

Approximately 300 participants from China and Sweden attended the conference. The participants were representatives from the two governments, research institutes, companies, associations and much more.

Keynote speakers from the private and public sector

Mr. Han Xiaodong, Economic and Commercial Counsellor from the Chinese Embassy, hosted the conference. China’s Ambassador to Sweden, Mr. Gui Congyou, attended the conference and gave the opening speech. Ambassador Mr. Gui said that the Sino-Swedish Smart City Conference aims for green cooperation and focuses on new urban development. Even though there is a big influence on the business trading between China and Europe by COVID-19, the cooperation opportunities for sustainable development are increasing, especially since China and EU have set up ambitious CO2 emission reduction targets. He believes the convening of this conference will further promote sustainable cooperation between China and Sweden.

Representatives from Business Sweden, White Peak and the Vice Mayor of Yantai Municipal Government, Mr Li Zhaouhui , presented the successful China-Sweden Hammarby Eco City Alliance. The Swedish company White Peak has built a green area in Yantai City inspired of the Hammarby Sjöstad with contribution from several Swedish companies. They invited more Swedish companies to join the initiative and will establish similar Eco Cities in other Chinese cities.

Mr. Östen Ekengren, senior advisor from IVL gave an introduction of Smart City Sweden, that has been successfully receiving delegations from many countries around the world and promoting Swedish solutions to other nations. He shared success stories and experiences from Sweden for sustainable and green development. Mr. Wang Rui from the IVL China division introduced the on-going waste projects in China, which will contribute to zero-waste city construction in China. At the same time, he expressed IVL as one important bridge between China and Sweden.

A separate webinar on mobility

On October 19th, the second Sino-Swedish webinar on Sustainable Mobility was held. Approximately 200 participants from the Chinese and Swedish governments, associations and mobility corporations joined the webinar, moderated by Jonas Törnblom, Envito.

The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to global warming. At the conference, it was discussed how collaboration could lead to a reduction in the sector. Both countries gave an insight in the plans to transform the transportation sector from both governments and high-level industry representatives in China and Sweden. Good examples of cooperation between companies and private and public sectors were also shared.

Mr. Chaochen Li, the council president of China Intelligent Transportation System Association, and State secretary Mr. Krister Nilsson from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden gave the important keynote speech of the promotion for sustainable transportation systems from the governments’ point of view.

Central actors from both the Swedish and Chinese representatives, including car manufacturers, suppliers, technology providers, and retailers such as Scania, Volvo, GCC, Northvolt, CEVT and NIO shared successful cooperation between Sweden and China for climate change reduction.

The Mayor from Rugao City of Jiangsu Province, Mr. He Yijun, introduced one example of on-going biogas project cooperation between Rugao City and Swedish Organisations, supported by Smart City Sweden. The project is an integrated solution for waste management and green transportation, which referenced the Swedish model and could reduce climate change effectively. Mr. Magnus Granström presented experiences from the China Sweden Traffic Safety program, which has been running for a couple of years.

Future priorities

At the end of the webinar, a round table discussion was organised to discuss which further developments are prioritized for transforming the transport sector to even higher levels of sustainability. Mr. Per Österström from Business Region Gothenburg expressed that the China Sweden cooperation in the transport sector has been very important for the technology development, but also for job creation in the Gothenburg region, as well as in China.

The online webinar for Sino-Swedish Conference on sustainable development shows that collaboration can still be successful, even in this challenging period. Through communication and discussion, the cooperation between China and Sweden in sustainable development can be strengthened even further.

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