Mrs. Renström, why is Ovanåker a progressive city?
Ovanåker is a municipality with many rural areas. We want to preserve its beautiful landscapes and prepare the municipality for the future so that people can live, work and have access to a good level of education for their children. In order to do so, we need to develop our municipality in a sustainable way, not only for environmental reasons but also to make it socially sustainable.
This is something we cannot do alone. We need the help of industries and workplaces but also of the civil society. They are strong actors and, if we can join forces with them, then we can succeed in reaching our goals.
How are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concretely implemented in your city?
We have been working on a biosphere project for many years and Ovanåker is now candidate to become a UNESCO biosphere area so we can preserve our valuable landscape and further develop it with the people living there. In cooperation with our region, we have picked out the goals we find the most important. We have then prioritised them in view of what we want to work on.
These goals are for the environment but also for democracy, poverty as well as for children and people's rights. We also organise seminars with politicians and civil servants to educate them about the goals and to hold discussions on how we can best implement these goals in our daily work.
How does Europe help to make Ovanåker a more sustainable city?
The SDG goals need to be implemented at all levels. You will never achieve the goals properly with a “top down” or a “bottom level” approach. The goals also need to be prioritised. It is not realistic to try to implement and work on all of them. We can share our good practices and support each other in a cross boarder way. If we see how other municipalities with the same structure as us are able to develop them, then this can be an inspiration for Ovanåker.
If each region works at its level with the goals it needs the most, then the work we do together can make a difference. Being a sustainable city on its own is of no use to Ovanåker. We need the rest of Europe to work together with us.
Yoomi Renström is Mayor of Ovanåker (Sweden) since 2010 and member of the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions since 2009. She belongs to the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP).