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Photo: Lasse Lychnell

Published

7 January 2015

Key Board role in new Centre for Sustainable Markets

In a couple of weeks the Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (MISUM) will open at the Stockholm School of Economics. MISUM will enhance knowledge of sustainable markets. In addition, the aim is to train future business leaders in sustainability and help to bring about green development throughout society.

Markets play an ever more important role in our deregulated global society. But the concept of a market is abstract and knowledge of how markets actually work is deficient. It is then also difficult to influence markets in a sustainable direction, says Lars Strannegård, President of the Stockholm School of Economics and member of MISUM’s programme board.

‘To find solutions that can improve our world and, at the same time, strengthen Swedish competitiveness, we must understand the markets better than we do at present,’ he says.

MISUM is headed from the Stockholm School of Economics, but the research will be conducted in collaboration with several other institutions, both in Sweden and abroad.

Strannegård says: ‘Our ambition is to shed light on sustainable markets from various angles. It’s about, for example, understanding how markets are structured and governed, how policies and market players relate to each other and what role the financial institutions play.’

Associate Professor Lin Lerpold of the Stockholm School of Economics was recently appointed MISUM’s Executive Director. In the near future, further staffing will take place; a scientific director will soon, for example, be recruited. Work is also under way to develop a programme plan that identifies priority research areas in the initial period.

One explicit objective for MISUM is to conduct research that is relevant to society. There, the distinguished programme board members, with their broad contact network, have a vital task to perform. Besides researchers and representatives of the School of Economics, the eight Board members include top people from the business sector, such as Egil Myklebust, former Chair of the SAS Board, and Ambassador Lisa Emelia Svensson from the Swedish Ministry of the Environment. The Chair and driving force behind the setting-up of MISUM, Björn Stigson, has long experience of management in the Swedish business sector. For 17 years he chaired the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva, a sustainability forum for global business.

‘My experience is that no single person has the answers. That’s why it’s important for us to establish collaboration, so that we can successively find ways forward. Activities at MISUM must involve a balance between the business sector, politicians and the academic world.’

Stigson also thinks it is essential to involve decision-makers in the work early on. The markets can help to bring about great sustainability by, for example, supplying new technical solutions and by influencing consumption patterns and lifestyles. But efficient and long-term market regulation is also required.

‘Markets are extremely good at pushing issues within well-defined limits. If you want more comprehensive changes in society, on the other hand, markets are slow, blunt instruments. Then they have to be supplemented with effective regulations,’ Stigson says.

For Mistra, the MISUM initiative is a natural continuation of the Sustainable Investment Research Platform (SIRP) research programme, which ended in 2012 after providing in-depth knowledge of sustainable investments. In the next five years, Mistra will be investing SEK 55 million in MISUM.

Besides high-quality research, this funding is also intended to create a centre of excellence for education and training in sustainability. Many business leaders are educated at the Stockholm School of Economics, and in-depth understanding of sustainability among future leaders will favour the whole of society in the long term, according to Lars Strannegård.

‘Our hope,’ he says, ‘is that MISUM can become an internationally shining star, building and disseminating knowledge of issues relating to sustainable markets and, by the same token, how to understand business and economics in the light of sustainable development.’

Text: Henrik Lundström, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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