Meet Christine Bäckström CEO of NIR

Ms Christine Bäckström took up the post as CEO of NIR in 2019. Prior to her new role, Christine served as a civil servant in the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Most recently she was responsible for the promotion of Swedish exports, including project exports, international procurement and sustainable business. Christine has also served as a diplomat in Havana, Madrid and Copenhagen.

As head of the Government’s Secretariat for Project Exports she was part of the team implementing the Strategy for Swedish Exports launched by the Government in 2015 (High Potential Opportunities Program and the Swedfund Project Accelerator).

Having worked extensively with the Swedish business community as a diplomat you now work from both the business and development perspective. What is your view on combining these two perspectives?

I believe that the two are mutually reinforcing and that a close and fruitful dialogue on current challenges will shape the future. The business community is in my experience fiercely oriented towards finding solutions. When governments tap into the innovative technology-driven power of the private sector, challenges can turn into opportunities. The private sector, on the other hand, needs to voice how economic policy, regulatory environment and international dialogue can be drivers for change.

 

The Swedish industry shares the impacts of global drivers such as climate change, competition, urbanisation, automation and digitalisation and changing global trade patterns. They also share their strong commitment to long-term sustainability. What do you think NIR bring to the table?

I believe that NIR operating in the nexus between a multitude of stakeholders ranging from government to business in Sweden and internationally can be a strong partner when it comes to maximising the Swedish contribution to sustainable economic growth. Also, NIR contribute in very practical ways through the local engagements promoting dialogue in workplaces to add value on development and transformation agendas.

Economic diplomacy is crucial. Business leaders, as well as government decision- makers, will have to work together on some of the most cutting-edge issues in foreign policy, such as emerging technology, the environment, health issues, as well as in the more traditional areas of trade and finance. Economic diplomacy requires versatility, flexibility, sound judgment and strong business skills. I believe these are the trademark of NIR, its members and partners.

From your perspective, what makes the Swedish industry stand out in the international competition?

Infrastructure sits at the very heart of efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Swedish companies are global sustainability leaders in sectors ranging from transportation systems to power-generation facilities and water and sanitation networks and have a long tradition of aligning successful business development with local needs on markets all over the world.