Mats Gunnarsson - caring for humans and the environment
As we are approaching NordAN conference which this year is taking us to a beautiful Swedish town Malmö, it is time to turn our eyes to Sweden. During the next months we share with you some stories and news about people and organisations from Sweden. We start with an interview with Mats Gunnarsson who is the Secretary General of SLAN and NordAN board member.
By Lauri Beekmann email@example.com
To really know you, we should also know where are you coming from. Describe the environment where you were raised up?
In a small place with about 1000 inhabitants in the north of Sweden where the winter could be really long but the summer night is brihgt and warm.
What has been your personal relationship with alcohol and drugs?
I came in to contact with the temperance movement in my teenage years and my engagement have become deeper since I understood that some close friends have had a parent with dependency and what that is causing during their childhood.
Has that also given you the motivation to work with alcohol and drug issues?
Yes and all the meaningless violence hurting often young people when others get drunk. One of my classmates died in age 16 after a party in wintertime.
What is SLAN doing? Where have you put your focus?
Our focus is on advocacy and strenghtening the network between our member organisations.
How would you describe current situation in Sweden? Do you see any improvements?
Yes we have a better situation regarding young people below 17 years old and better knowledge about the situation for children in homes with problems but we have increasing use of Cannabis. And still too bad cooperation between health care and social service and School system.
You are also active in Green party. Why have you chosen that poitical worldview?
I think it makes sense, if we care about humans we also need to protect our common enviroment. And there is a lack of answers in the old right or left wing wiev of the world.
As a NordAN board member, what do you find as most important in this nordic-baltic cooperation?
Difficult question because it has many opportunities. I think we can learn a lot from each other and also find strength in others support and examples. I was very inspired when our friends from Lithuania told about their work against alcohol advertising but also the professional work in Norway and Denmark as examples of moving forward and develop our thinking. Also all good people that you learn to know.
Where should it grow and develop in your mind?
I think we should be better to listen to what´s happening in our neighbour countries and invite each other to bilateral cooperation on special topics like age limits, taxation and others.
You are main organizer of NordAN conference in Malmö. What do you wish that the participants will get from there?
I hope they will feel that they are contributors this time, not just participants! On Sunday we will use a lot of time to topics raised by the people who are attending. Of course I think they will also have new knowledge from experts and NGO friends.