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  • Writer's pictureShe Business Time

Meet Linnéa Engström: Sweden's Trailblazer in the European Parliament, Shaping Tomorrow's Europe Today."

Updated: May 6

In the dynamic landscape of European politics, certain figures stand out for their dedication, influence, and vision. Among them is Linnéa Engström, a formidable force representing Sweden in the European Parliament. With her steadfast commitment to environmental sustainability, social justice, and human rights, Engström has carved a path as one of the most influential Swedish members of the European Parliament. In this exclusive interview, we delve into her journey, ideals, and the pivotal role she plays in shaping the future of Europe.

1.Can you share with our readers your journey into the circular economy space and what inspired your interest in this area?

After working in different roles during almost 15 years with both broader environmental issues and circular economy I feel this is an integrated part of my professional career. During my years as a member of the European parliament I was involved in several legislative files on circular economy, especially the single-use plastic file. After working with both policy and eco-labelling of seafood, I have also seen that the fishing industry is quite advanced in some parts of the world in using rest-streams from wild caught fisheries 

2.As a woman leader in the circular economy field, what unique perspectives or approaches do you bring to the table ?

We shouldn't repeat the mistakes that we've made in the linear economy now that we have a chance to drive towards a green shift and more circular economy. That means that we should invest equally in women's rights, work-life balance and leadership because that's a clear factor for success in innovative businesses. Companies that prioritize gender equality do better, both when it comes to growth and working environment

3.What are some of the key challenges you've faced as a woman leader in this industry, and how have you overcome them?

Combining a top level role with parenting, sexism and the use of power techniques which can be referred to as bullying. I think first and foremost you need to grow a thick skin as a woman leader and business professional. That doesn't mean that you don't show empathy or are not value driven, but you simply can't take things personally because that will take all your energy and bring you down. As Michelle Obama said "When they go low, we go high". Rise above all the nasty comments and attempt to pull you down. For me personally it was very important to be a present and loving parent, so I try to plan my days and my life after the children, which makes me happy and gives me a lot of energy. 

4.Could you highlight some of your notable contributions or initiatives within the circular economy space that have made a positive impact?

I'm very proud of my contribution to gender stream all climate and environmental policy within the EU. In 2018 my report on "Women, gender and climate justice" was voted through with a big majority in the European Parliament. That report stipulates that all funding and legislation coming out should have a clear gender perspective, that includes the circular economy initiatives as well. I was also a rapporteur for the ban of some single-use plastic items in the EU, a legislation that was very important for turning the tide on how we view plastic as a materialI am currently working towards the launch of a Gender Equality Mutual Fund that will enable investors to invest for returns in companies with notable efforts in gender equality while also contributing to concrete actions for nonprofit gender equality projects. 

5.How do you see the role of women entrepreneurs evolving in shaping the future of the circular economy?

I think women have a crucial role to play in enhancing a more circular economy. Women tend to prioritize environmental issues, and they are also the once often most badly hit with the consequences of climate change and biodiversity loss. This is because a majority of the world's poor and small scale farmers are women. Empower women and we will solve many environmental issues as well. This has been proven many times, front runners like Wangari Mathai in Kenya ( Nobel peace prize for the Green belt movement) or Rachel Carson with her book "Silent Spring" shows us that it's possible. 

6.In your opinion, what are some of the most promising opportunities for women-led businesses within the circular economy framework?

There will be a drive the next coming years to try to advance circular economy solutions. Perhaps we can inspire women to become entrepreneurs since we know that we need to think out of the box and find new, innovative solutions. Also there should be promising initiatives to spur local communities, recycling and refurbishing businesses, all which requires community engagement. 

7.How can businesses, governments, and society at large better support and encourage women's participation and leadership in advancing the circular economy agenda?

 We need to place women in charge, in positions of powerful leadership, and direct investments towards companies that demonstrate performance in equality. There needs to be clear priorities to gender mainstream everything from access to capital, solutions for combining entrepreneurship with care-taking and of course leadership training and support for women in top positions

and support for women in top positions.

8.What advice would you give to aspiring women leaders who are interested in pursuing a career or business venture in the circular economy sector?

To join the G100 circular economy wing of course! The support from the network is impressive and so important. ”Together we rise” is not merely a catchy slogan. When women come together and stop competing and instead support each-other we can move mountains. 

9.Can you share any personal experiences or anecdotes that have shaped your understanding of the importance of sustainability and circularity in business?

Working with the single-use plastic file that led to the ban of 10 common single-use plastic items in 2018 in the EU was an eye-opener. It was not clear to me before the vast amount of plastic that the EU just shipped away, mainly to China, where it would end up in a land-fill or in the ocean. Being a part of that journey felt important, when you saw the imagery of tonnes and tonnes of plastic entering the rivers and finally reaching the ocean, that was a deal breaker definitely. 

10.Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of the circular economy movement, and how do you see women playing a pivotal role in driving its growth and innovation?

We need to change the logic and the values underpinning the current linear economy. We need to prioritize  growth in caring: both for people and the planet. I see women driving that green and care-centered shift, to a more inclusive, sustainable and caring economy. An economy that works actively to reduce negative externalities and actually bring human well-being at the center of economic rationality.

Published By She Business Time


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