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“The Smart Country”

Helena Paulsson on sustainable urban development in new book by LRF

Maria Soxbo and Helena Paulsson at the book launch.

Published by the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF), the launch of the book “The Smart Country – Perspectives on a Sustainable Sweden” (edited by Anders Källström and Maria Soxbo) took place on Tuesday in Stockholm. Helena Paulsson, Head of Urban Development at ÅF, was present. 

LRF is an interest and business organisation for the green industry with approximately 140 000 individual members. In the book, different actors and personalities give their view on the future development of the countryside. We often talk about the smart city, but here the relationship between the countryside and the city constitutes the focal point. Helena Paulsson is one of the people interviewed in the book. The list of interviewees includes, among others, Bodil Jönsson, Clara Lidström, Johan Kuylenstierna and Ashkan Fardost.

Your chapter focuses on your work as Head of Urban Development at ÅF. How does ÅF work with these issues?

At ÅF, many of us work with challenges related to urban development. Urbanisation remains strong, which combined with the fact that cities today make up about 70 percent of our emissions, means that we need to focus on sustainable systems and solutions. This concerns everything from how our public spaces should be shaped, to meet the flow of people and vehicles, to what our streets should look like and what means of transport we should prioritise. But of course, we must not forget management of urban runoff and the importance of greenery. Currently we have an exciting project in Växjö, where the team is working with the client to create green and sturdy buffers. But also, in terms of how we create future sustainable energy systems, and especially in terms of how we should proceed to connect certain parts of our cities in the era of smart cities. Yes - the list can be made long!

You mention courage as a part of urban planning – can you expand on that?

Nowadays we are quite familiar with the challenges we are facing, and many cities are facing similar challenges. Issues are often related to climate and mobility. But we must prioritise and that is where courage comes in. The differences in health and lifespan between different areas with a city, as a consequence of segregation, is a concrete example. A couple of years ago, Malmö City carried out a great work in not only identifying the challenge, but by working with urban construction as a tool for solutions.

What would the city of your dreams look like?

Good question! A city that belongs to everyone and where everyone feels safe and comfortable. This is linked to beauty which I think is so important for our wellbeing, but yes, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. The organisation 8 80 Cities is a great example: “We believe that if everything we do in our public spaces is great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, then it will be great for all people.”