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Sustainable planet, sustainable health – how science-based solutions can drive transformative change

On 1 June 2022 Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Stockholm Environment Institute was arranging a one-day conference. The main focus was on how academia, through research and higher education, can contribute to the transition to a more sustainable development.

The conference focused on how science can contribute to solutions and the transformative change needed in the next decades to reach global targets. It also focused on how academics and scientists can further develop capacities to support transformations for sustainable health for people and planet.

Recording from the conference

Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, was one of the key note speakers at the conference. Watch her engaging speech on the role of science in the transformation to a more sustainable world here below.

In the future, you will see more recordings from the conference on this page.



Opening plenary session

08.50-09.15 CEST opening: WE HEAR YOU — A CLIMATE ARCHIVE
Participants: Melinda Kinnaman, Razmus Nyström.
Texts by Greta Thunberg, Lilli Hokama, Jacob Hirdwall.
Directed by Jacob Hirdwall.

WE HEAR YOU—A CLIMATE ARCHIVE is a collaboration between Dramaten (The Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden), The Earth Commons—Georgetown University’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability, The Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC, and The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. We Hear You—A Climate Archive is co-conceived by Caitlin Nasema Cassidy and Jacob Hirdwall. Additional support for this project is provided by the Swedish Arts Council and The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.

09.15-12.15 CEST: Plenary session 1: How academia can support transformative changes in the decade of action

Moderator: Annika Dopping

09.15-09.40 CEST: Sub session 1: Introductory conversation


  • Astrid Söderbergh Widding, president, Stockholm University.
  • Ole Petter Ottersen, president, Karolinska Institutet.
  • Sigbritt Karlsson, president, KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
  • Åsa Persson, Research Director and Deputy Director, Stockholm Environment Institute.

9.40-11.00 CEST: Sub session 2: Key notes addressing different aspects of the 4 dimensions – Health, Environments and Society and in the Dept of Population.


  • Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, Founder and CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
  • Dr. Nyovani Madise, Director of Development Policy and Head of Malawi office, African Institute for Development Policy.
  • Prof Andy Haines, Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health, Centre for Climate Change and Planetary Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

11.00-11.30 CEST: Coffee and music.

11.30-12.15 CEST: Sub session 3


  • His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi E.K Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana.
  • Noura Berrouba, President, National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU).
  • Prof Teruo Fujii, President, University of Tokyo.

12.15-13.15 CEST: Lunch and music.


Parallel sessions

13.15-14.45 CEST

The parallel sessions are organized by the four partner organizations. You see speakers and content by clicking on the headings below.

13.15-14.45 CEST

Organizer: KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

13.15 CEST: Introduction to the session
Moderator: Karin Larsdotter, PhD, Deputy Director KTH Climate Action Centre, KTH.

13.20 CEST: Policy-making for sustainable consumption
Speaker: Karin Bradley, Associate Professor, Department of Urban Planning and Environment, KTH.

13.30 CEST: Industrial transformation for the future
Speaker: Magnus Burman, Deputy Director KTH. Industrial Transformation Platform KTH.

13.40 CEST: Towards Net Zero value chains – a collaborative journey
Speaker: Pernilla Bergmark, Principal researcher, ICT sustainability impacts at Ericsson. 

13.50 CEST: Rare earth metals, limits and possibilities
Speaker: Michael Svärd, PhD, Docent, Division of Resource Recovery, KTH.

14.00 CEST: Push for transition to hydrogen powered future
Speaker: Göran Lindbergh, Professor, Applied Electrochemistry, KTH.

14.10 CEST: Infrastructure equity aspects in the transition to fossil-free transport
Speaker: Maria Xylia, PhD, Energy and Industry Transitions, SEI.

14.25 CEST: Panel discussion.

Aim and questions for discussion

Aim: Sustainable Development Goal 12 Responsible Consumption and Production is one of the hardest goals to reach, not the least for industrialised countries. At this session we will discuss how research organisations and industry partners can collaborate regarding the transition to sustainable, CO2-neutral businesses with strengthened competitiveness.

Panel discussion: 

  • What transformative changes in industry and consumption are needed in order to achieve a sustainable development?
  • Capacity building: How can academia support innovative solutions and accelerate transformation?
  • How can academia proactively support policy and decision-making? 
  • How can academia drive innovation, entrepreneurship and green jobs? 

13.15-14.45 CEST

Organizer: KI and Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
Moderator: Dr. Sudhvir Singh, The equity and health unit of WHO.

13.15-13.35 CEST: The grand challenges: the power of food for action

  • Prof. Line Gordon, Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
  • Prof. Stefan Swartling Peterson, KI. 

13.35-14.00 CEST: What are the challenges for children and youth? From local-level initiatives to national policies and global strategies.

  • Dr. Shakuntala Thilsted  2021 World Food Prize winner and Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish, CGIAR. 
  • Thea Emilie Maubach-Vindenes, member of the national board in Press, Save the Children Youth, Norway. 

14.00-14.30 CEST: Food for actions! Panel on what actions are needed from academia, business, politics, civil society and individuals. How can intersectoral action be promoted?

  • Åsa Domeij, Head of Sustainability Axfood
  • Annica Sohlström, Director-General, National Food Agency
  • Dr. Rebecka Milestad, KTH, KTH Food Sustainability Network
  • Olga Grönvall Lund, Founder, Reformaten

14.30-14.45 CEST: Final reflections by moderator.

Longer bios

Dr. Shakuntala Thilsted, received the World Food Prize in 2021 for her groundbreaking research in nutrition-sensitive approaches to aquaculture and food systems. Her work is placing nutrition and public health at the core of how food is produced, processed, transported, priced, distributed and consumed. Dr. Thilsted is the Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at WorldFish, a global CGIAR research center headquartered in Malaysia.
Dr. Sudhvir Singh is a Technical Officer at the World Health Organization. He works across research, advocacy and policy implementation at the interface of health and environmental challenges. Sudhvir worked as the Director of Policy at the EAT Foundation for over 5 years before serving Prime Minister Helen Clark as Special Advisor in her role as Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

13.15-14.45 CEST

Organizers: Stockholm Environment Institute, co-organised with KTH, SRC.

Aim: As we move forward from COP26, with its call for just transition to low-carbon, climateresilient societies, there is a sense of renewed urgency to embed accountability within government climate policy decisions. Similarly, media outlets are empowered to provide reliable, science and fact-based information on climate change; and consumers of that information to be equally able to distinguish facts from falsehoods. Digitalisation in this context becomes not only an ‘instrument’ to resolve sustainability challenges, but also fundamentally a driver of disruptive change.

This session is set up to critically examine the role of transparency within sustainability transformation – in particular, how data and disruptive technologies could play a catalytic role in enhancing accountability and agency in the implementation of global goals. Our emphasis here will be on demand side drivers (of information consumption and use) and not on the tools, data and platforms per se.

A sub-aim here is to strengthen relations among the organizers for future collaborations within this field of digitalization and just transformations.

Questions for discussion:

  • How important is transparency within sustainability transformation?
  • What role does digitalization play and how can we better use existing data?
  • Which voices are over-represented in the transformation and which need to be amplified?
  • How can we increase transparency on financial flows?
  • How can financial actors get reliable and comparable data on the environmental impacts of companies?
  • Who are the forerunners? Examples from industry, public policy, civil society and academia.
  • What inherent risks lie embedded within digitalization, AI and radical transparency initiatives that we need to be mindful of in order not to further exacerbate global inequity?

Target audience: Industry, Policy making bodies, Scientific community, Sustainable Finance, Technology innovators and startups, Civil Society Organisations, Youth organisations.

Moderator: Dr. Somya Joshi, Head of Division, SEI and Associate Professor.

Session set up:

1. Defining the grand challenges (10 minutes)
Could the digital transformation of our institutions accelerate equitable access to information, transparency and participation for next generation governance and business models? Which voices are over-represented here and which need to be amplified? (David Jensen, UNEP –CODES). 

2. Why is data & transparency a powerful entry point for action? TRASE: Javier Godar, Vivian Ribero.

  • Making creative use of data that are out there already – leveraging existing data for positive transformation
  • Harmonizing and aligning disclosure standards by companies, financial institutions and governments, as well as highlighting data gaps in sustainable finance
  • Going from transparency to accessibility and use – the importance of curating data and making it relevant for applications, not just dumping it on the market, which can drive (sometimes purposefully) decision paralysis and obfuscation
  • Avoiding risks that transparency can bring – it is often assumed that more transparency is always a good thing. However, making one thing more transparent necessarily makes other things less visible because everyone ́s bandwidth is limited 

Speakers: Vivian Ribeiro, Trase team and PhD in Ecology SEI, and Vivian Ribeiro is a data scientist for the Trase platform at SEI Headquarters.

3. How do we leverage the enormous data flows on the one hand, and the positive potential of digital technologies to transform and disrupt outdated business models or inadequate governance frameworks for the benefit of all? Whilst on the other hand how do we deal with the limitations of data gaps specifically in the sustainable finance domain (15 minutes)

Speaker: Mark Sanctuary, Vice Director at Sustainable Finance Lab.

In this segment we have a specific focus on how transparency can bring a positive disruption (and could bring in risk of negative disruption in certain contexts).

We ask - what are the limitations and how hard it is to get a very clear picture of sustainability impacts across the economy in a way that allows us to achieve transparency on financial flows?

From a sustainable finance perspective the key issues seems to be a lack of data and a lack of shared standards on what data is relevant and how it should be collected and communicated. How green or brown are the lending portfolios of the banks? There is a need for much greater transparency on this front. Financial actors in their turn find that they don’t have access to sufficient, reliable, or comparable data on the environmental impacts of companies (nothing close to the financial data they get). So, the issue is more about improving the data availability. 

4. Beyond building back better: From the scatter shot illustrations of solutions today to future insights into what needs to happen. (30 minutes)

Panel will bring together actors from industry, public policy, civil society and academia, moderated to first demonstrate successful initiatives that are breaking ground today (e.g. TRASE, industry examples from mobility to hard to abate sectors, to examples of governance, green finance and engagement with civil society). Building upon this the panelists will co-imagine future scenarios highlight what remains to be designed and orchestrated to realise these complex and urgent targets.

13.15-14.45 CEST

Organizers: Stockholm University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and KI.

Background: The Stockholm Conference in 1972 not only put sustainability on the global agenda, it also spurred the creation of – at the time – innovative policies and ways of governing for sustainability. Over time however, scholars as well as policy-makers have become increasingly aware of the multiple interactions, “wickedness”, tough trade-offs and inescapable social and environmental uncertainties that emerge as the result of globalization and societal complexity. These issues become increasingly important when societies face inter-linked transboundary crises (such as pandemics, climate change, food and water crises and financial shocks). This calls for rapid social transformations toward sustainability to achieve the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals. While swift political and collective action often is needed, it is difficult to achieve due to economic, political and other reasons. Science can play a critical role as societies and policy-makers try to navigate this type of turbulence and uncertainty, but science-to-policy interactions face numerous challenges as knowledge is fragmented, incomplete and prone to be interpreted in ways that suit short-term political and social interests, at the expense of both nuance and holistic solution-oriented actions. 

This panel conversation is hosted in collaboration with the Earth System Governance Project, and will explore challenges and opportunities for the role science can play towards societal transformative change, decarbonization and resilience in line with the agenda of the Stockholm+50 conference. We will discuss these issues from multiple perspectives with leading scientists, practitioners and experts with extensive experience of working across the science-policy interface. 

Aim: The aim of this session is to explore advances in our understanding in the last decades since Stockholm 1972, of how to govern for a just and safe sustainable future for all in the face of complexity and uncertainty. The session will explore the biggest risks and failures, as well as success factors that could contribute to accelerated action for societal transformation toward sustainability.

Questions for discussion:

  • Is there a need to rethink the way that science is conducted today, and how it connects to policy-making in the face of rapid environmental change? 
  • How can all scientific disciplines contribute to accelerate large-scale societal transformation toward sustainability? 
  • What are the success factors that affect societies’ ability to deal with large and urgent complex risks?
  • How can the politicization of scientific uncertainty be prevented in times of turbulence and large-scale risks?


  • Professor Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA).
  • Michele Betsill, professor, Department of Political Science, Copenhagen University.
  • Hans Peter Arp, professor, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and Department of Chemistry, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Final plenary session

15.15-16.45 CEST: Plenary session 2: Next generation leadership: how academia can support sustainable transformation that drives innovation, entrepreneurship and green jobs.


  • Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • Henrik Henriksson, Chief Executive Officer at H2 Green Steel.

Pleanry dialogue session. 


  • Ossian Ahlkvist, Board member at Student Union of KTH (THS).
  • Salomé Hahne, MSc Candidate in Biomedicine and Secretary, Students for sustainable development at KI.
  • Jaee Nikam, Research Associate at SEI Asia.
    Elis Wibacke, President of the Stockholm University Student Union.

16.45-17.00 CEST: Closing session: Science adressing Stockholm +50


  • Sharachchandra Lele, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Environment & Development, ATREE, Bengaluru.
  • Åsa Persson Research Director and Deputy Director at SEI.

In 1972, 114 countries gathered in Stockholm for the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. This was the first global conference to focus explicitly on environmental issues and their links with human development. The conference also came at a time when scientific understanding of regional and global environmental challenges such as nuclear testing, acid rain and eutrophication gained momentum in society. It was a watershed moment and established a process of global collaboration for human and environmental sustainability resulting in landmark agreements such as Agenda 21 and the Rio Principles, Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals and the Rio conventions on Climate, Biodiversity and Desertification. The main outcome of the conference in Stockholm was the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which represented an important step towards the development of international environmental law: recognizing the importance of a healthy environment for human development. The conference also led to the establishment of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). 

The latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change and the recent COP26 UN Climate change conference have clarified the seriousness of the challenges and importance of political support for intersectoral action towards halving the global emissions by 2030 with net zero reached by mid-century. This requires commitment and courage from leaders and policymakers to create a world where economic development is not an end in itself, but a means to ensure the health and wellbeing of people and planet.

In June 2022, the Government of Sweden, in collaboration with the Government of Kenya, will host “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity”, to commemorate the 50 years since the Stockholm Conference. The meeting will take place in Stockholm 2–3 June 2022 following a UN General Assembly resolution. The focus will be on the urgent need for action towards a sustainable society, including achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The conference will reinforce the messages and the outcomes of UNEP’s 50th anniversary held in March 2022 in Nairobi.

Read more about Stockholm +50 


ThirdTask is a project led by Climate Students Sweden (Klimatstudenterna). The videos was recorded in March 2022 at Stockholm University.

All sections are available on Climate Students Sweden's website.



Below you will find more conference that can be linked to the Stockholm +50 conference.

Photography Exhibition: ‘Hope? and how to grieve for the planet’

Photography Exhibition: ‘Hope? and how to grieve for the planet’ by Neal Haddaway: an exploration of how environmental researchers and communicators feel about the state of the planet and the environmental crises facing the world.

For those who will join online, visit the virtual gallery by clicking the link below.

See the photo exhibition»

Symposium on the Law for Security and Sustainable Development

Symposium on the Law for Security and Sustainable Development, organised in relation to the UN Stockholm+50 Meeting.
Where: Aula Magna and online
When: 30 May at 13.00-18.00 CET
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