Long before Kristina Persson founded Global Challenge (”Global Utmaning”, in Swedish), she understood that our societal problems are intertwined and that systems thinking would be required to address them. For over 16 years, our organisation has managed to contribute with solutions in Sweden, in the Nordics as well as in the EU and UN spheres.
A former cabinet minister, MP, governor and deputy head of the Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank), Kristina Persson is today the honorary chair of the think tank Global Challenge.
When her father passed in 1990, she used part of her inheritance to start Frejas Fond, a foundation aimed at “promoting democracy, sustainable development and equality, especially in the current context of internationalisation”.
By the end of that decade, the term ”globalisation” was becoming established and Kristina realised our society was gearing up towards economic integration and dependency. “At the same time, the public discourse when Sweden had its referendum on joining the euro, for instance, suggested that there was a poor understanding of the implications of this integration. Even among politicians”, she remembers. “During my time at the Riksbank between 2001 and 2007, I was able to gain more knowledge about macroeconomics but also an understanding of the risks presented by that shift”.
The challenges of globalisation
Kristina Persson founded Global Challenge to create dialogue, promote knowledge and contribute to a critical mass addressing the changes that globalisation would bring about in the areas of welfare, labour, democracy and the environment.
From the Millennium goals to the 2030 Agenda
Since 2005 it has been the mission of Global Challenge to promote a sustainable future. Even before the 2030 Agenda was adopted, our organisation was already working with those topics – with the Millennium Development Goals as a framework back then.
Global Challenge has obtained observer status at the UN and, by invitation of the executive office of the secretary general, it currently co-ordinates Sweden Local2030 Hub, one the world’s eight UN clusters working with the local implementation of the sustainable development goals.
An independent source of knowledge in a time of polarisation and fact resistance
As an independent think tank, Global Challenge finds its core in scientific insights, knowledge and impartiality. That’s not an easy feat in our current societal context. In some sectors, science is now treated with disdain and regarded as a valid alternative to opinion.
Our organisation’s independence is unusual. As political parties increasingly focus on strategies to win over demographics, non-political think tanks fill a crucial vacuum in society. They generate ideas and propose policy which serve only the principles of efficiency, rather than popularity.
Global Challenge today
Our work scope has been expanding and our results has been reaching further since 2020. As we started the initiative “Sweden’s road to zero”, we have had the opportunity of teaming up with stakeholders in the projects the Climate Agenda (“Klimatagendan”, in Swedish) and FAIRTRANS.
“Many of the problems we have identified when I founded Global Challenge exist to this day – and now they are even more complex and urgent. Whether we are discussing climate change, the global economy or the demographic challenges, it is clear to me that we need a new type of global leadership”, says Kristina Persson.