I was born in a time when human civilizations where threatened to disappear due to the large-scale use of atomic bombs. I was born in a post-world war era, where people from all over the world just recently had experienced tremendous tragedies and horrors due to mass violence. I was born in a postcolonial era where countries and nations struggled to get their freedom and autonomy in relation to racist colonisers and imperialists – racism, a toxic ideology and practice that have caused unimaginable pain to real people for centuries. I was born in an era where women started to gain rights in different domains of the Swedish society, but only because of their own struggle and by highlighting the consequences and awfulness of male dominance. I was born in an era where increased knowledge about the effects of unsustainable use of planetary resources started to get public and political attention, as well as information on the huge inequalities that existed throughout the globe – inequalities that were understood and experienced very differently due to positions, interests, identities and ideologies, but from my point of view could not be considered as anything else than outrageous an unjust. Why should a boy or girl living in a different situation from me in an another place have less opportunities and rights?
I was born at the sunny side of the street and could have turned a blind eye to the sufferings in the world, but I did not. Whatever little I could do in a remote corner of the world, I would do. It was time to take a stand and make some necessary decisions regarding life orientation. This was approximately thirty-five years ago.
Today, some decades later, huge and rapid transformations due to several dimensions of globalisation have happened. Some of these are real improvements in people´s lives and for the world as a whole; increased access and rights to education, promotion of health services, new technologies that supports sustainable resource management and relations between people and cultures, increased understanding of fundamental human rights, progressive and effective civil society activism, international agreements for the purpose of sustainability etc. Other transformations cast a dark shadow over the future. Climate change, rapid loss of biodiversity and ecosystems in decline, extremist violence, reluctances from elites to consider the rights of other people, growth of racist and fascist movements and parties, large scale human migration, lack of sustainable economic policies and practices, continuation of unsustainable consumption for those with resources, corruption and crimes in nations and over porous borders, use of mass violence in different conflicts, apathy against and support of arms trade and militarisation are all, among some, challenges that need to be tackled now and not a minute later, if it will not be too late to avoid irreversible damages. As I write this, the poorest people, vulnerable groups, families and individuals are deeply affected by structures and actions that could be prevented if the will and spirit were there.
Nowhere are the harmful effects of these global injustices as profound and serious as among the next generation of young people. At the same time, children and young peoples’ experiences, perceptions and understandings are often disregarded and not prioritized. Children and young people are affected by the consequences stemming from decisions made by adults, and therefore need to be actively involved in decision-making at all levels towards a just and sustainable future.
I have been and still am concerned about the trends we are all witnessing and which are experienced very differently depending on who we are and where we live.
I am also convinced that we need to get together in real, constructive and creative dialogues on how to move towards a world which is beneficial for all, and with respect and care for the environment on which we all depend, i.e. another development.
I strongly believe that taking up arms is the wrong way to go to create change. It will only increase the difficulties to get out of this global mess. We have to search for change with peaceful, non-violent and democratic means with an interest and respect for each other independent of who we are. Conflicts are not the problem, violence is.
I am committed to the idea that it is meaningful and right to establish a foundation with this purpose in the city of Umeå and in the northern part of Sweden since the world is everywhere, and since the challenges are here for all of us to work on. It is through work and dialogue at the local and regional levels, and with openness and invitations to national and international partners that we can create change.
Let us do this together with compassion, creativity, curiosity and endurance!
Welcome to Another Development Foundation!
Founder and Chair of the Board
Umeå, September 2016