Published: 05-06-2024 10:12 | Updated: 05-06-2024 13:55

Emma Swärdh receives KI’s Sustainability Award

Kerstin Dahlman-Wright presented this year's sustainability award to Emma Swärdh during KI's Sustainability Day on May 22.
Karin Dahlman-Wright, chair of the Council for Environment and Sustainable Development, presented this year's sustainability award to Emma Swärdh during KI Sustainability Day on May 22. Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

KI has presented this year’s sustainability award to Assistant Senior Lecturer Emma Swärdh for her dedication and leadership in the field of sustainable development. Created in 2023, the award was presented at KI’s Sustainability Day on 22 May for the second time. “I hope that it will inspire more people to get involved in sustainability issues,” she says.

Emma Swärdh, physiotherapist and assistant senior lecturer at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society (NVS), has spent many years working with sustainability issues at KI. Her efforts have now earned her a prize of SEK 30,000. 

Emma Swärdh. Photo: Private

“The award shows that my engagement hasn’t just been appreciated, it’s also made a real impact,” she says. 

Emma Swärdh’s interest in sustainability was piqued by a lecture on the interrelation between human health and the health of the planet. Thus inspired, she started to get involved in issues of sustainability and became environment and sustainability representative at NVS.

She also launched a research project on a sustainable development module for KI’s physiotherapy programme. 

Inspiring colleagues and students

“There are certain hurdles you face when working with sustainability at a medical university like KI,” Swärdh explains. One of the largest is that the work often rests on only a handful of engaged colleagues.

“Sustainability needs to be a core objective for the entire organisation, achieved by practising what you preach, continuous learning, participation and long-term devotion.” 

The response and engagement from colleagues and students are, she says, all the more important. 

“When my colleagues tell me that I’ve inspired them to change something for the sake of the environment or when physiotherapy students come up to me and say that they’ve been re-galvanised, I know that I’m in the right place,” says Swärdh. 

Everyone can make a difference

Emma Swärdh urges everyone interesting in promoting sustainability at KI to contact others who are working with such issues, like their departmental environment and sustainability representatives. 

“We need each other more than ever on these complex, urgent issues, and we must be generous with our support, advice and commitment. Everyone’s needed, and you don’t have to be an expert to get involved. 

Emma Swärdh will be celebrating her award with her family. 

“I’ll also make time for myself to sit down by one of the lakes here at home and think about how one is never too small to make a difference.”

The judges’ citation

“Emma Swärdh has demonstrated exceptional dedication and leadership on matters of sustainable development. Her efforts have helped to raise awareness of climate and health, locally, nationally and internationally, and her contribution to research and education will set future physiotherapists on a secure learning trajectory.”