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CeCAR Meets HM King Carl XVI Gustaf

HM The King Carl XVI Gustaf and Sverker Jagers, professor and direcor of CeCAR. Photo: Johan Wingborg

‘Cooperation to solve global challenges is a complex but very urgent topic. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to come here today and discuss it with both old and new friends,’ said Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf as he opened the seminar at Jonsered Manor he had received as a gift from the University of Gothenburg. The discussion concerned the research carried out at the Centre for Collective Action Research (CeCAR).

When King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrated his 70th birthday last year, the University of Gothenburg gave him as a gift the opportunity to request a seminar on any topic. Sverker Jagers, director of CeCAR, thanked the King for having the good judgment to select cooperation on global challenges as the theme of his seminar.

Social Dilemmas

‘Everyone knows that excessive CO2 emissions, antibiotic resistance and corruption are bad things, but we still let them happen. The main task of CeCAR, which started a year ago, is to explore why we continue to do these bad things and what we can do about it.’

Fishermen who try to maximise their profits by catching as many fish as possible is one example of a so-called social dilemma, Jagers explains.

‘They might buy big boats and expensive gear and be at sea for long periods of time in order to make as much money as possible. But if all of them do this, the resources they all depend on risk disappearing. And it doesn’t help if an individual fisherman decides to catch less fish, as long as all the other ones keep overfishing. All fishermen must change their behaviour, but how can this be achieved?’

In a homogeneous group, where the actors themselves have taken the initiative to limit and monitor the fishing and where everybody trusts each other, there is a good potential for effective collaboration.

‘But how can we solve the major global challenges, where people from different cultures, who do not know each other, must work together? To find a solution to this problem, our centre has gathered environmental economists, environmental psychologists, political scientists, psychologists, lawyers and philosophers — because if there’s a perfect place for a serious attempt to help solve this problem, it’s definitely Gothenburg.’

Complex Issues

In the discussion that followed, Vice-Chancellor Pam Fredman explained that it is important that the University train students in thinking more broadly and not just within their own disciplines, since global challenges are so complex.

The King pointed out that there are homogeneous groups in for example the steel industry, fisheries and transport who could lead the way when it comes to environmental thinking.

‘These are people with similar backgrounds who are involved in the same type of work, who can make deals with each other and who can protect the environment.’

A Step Forward

Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics, told the seminar participants that the climate agreement reached in Paris in 2015 was a step forward.

‘But when for example Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest countries, says it wants to develop without increasing its pollution levels, they don’t get anything in return.’

Economic historian Ann Ighe pointed out that almost 100 years have passed since universal suffrage was introduced in Sweden.

‘Thus, the men who were in power at that time made a decision that watered down their own right to vote. In the same way, some people today need to agree to let go of some privileges in order for us to manage some major challenges.’

‘Tremendous Asset’

The seminar lasted about two hours but could have gone on for much longer, according to Jagers.

‘We should have organised a 3-day camp with the King instead of meeting that lasted just a few hours. We need to arrange these dialogues, in which all kinds of people are involved, much more often. It will be a tremendous asset in CeCAR’s continued work.’

HM The King Carl XVI Gustaf in discussions with Vice-chancellor Pam Fredman. Photo Johan Wingborg 

Facts: The seminar, titled Path to Cooperation on Global Challenges and held on 26 April at Jonsered Manor, was the University of Gothenburg’s birthday present to King Carl XVI Gustaf. The seminar was opened by Sverker Jagers, director of the CeCAR, and moderated by Åsa Löfgren, chairman of CeCAR’s steering committee.

TEXT: Eva Lundgren

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 1/24/2019

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