In February this year Sweden re-inforced continued support for the East African Community integration process.

Katarina Rangnitt, the Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania and the EAC, said at the time that cooperation among the five EAC Partner States was crucial to relations between Sweden and East Africa. And the support continues. 

Yesterday the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Margit Wallstr√∂m, signed an important Economic Partnership Agreement with East African Community Partners. 

Sweden has over the past nine years disbursed generous financial support amounting to 7,225,155 Swedish Kroner to the EAC, monies that have been channeled through the EAC Partnership Fund. 

In addition Sweden finacially supports Trademark East Africa and the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has major programmes in the region.

Also in the area Customs Capacity Building has Sweden offered strong support for EAC over the last decade. One example is that the EAC AEO programme was introduced with Swedish contributions.  

I like selfies. I have taken and posted many. When you travel as much as I do it is always nice to take a photo of the places you have visted and seen. When you do that, is actually nice to be in the picture to demonstrate that you really were there. 

Selfie at a visit to Manhattan, United States

My many selfies has now become a gimmick and a fun thing and some of my friends has started call me the “selfie king”. This is naturally all done with a high degree of self-irony. It is not about self-promotion or anything like that. It is just one of these things in social media that has become popular. 

Well, I might take the most selfies (and maybe the best), but I was certainly not the first….

This is Paul McCartney taking a selfie in 1963.

There is only one rule for selfies and it is to not use a selfiepin. That is a non-no. Selfiepins are for amateurs (LOL). 

Some people are really selfie-crazy. At the game in the EuroCup 2016 the ither day a fan run knto the pitch to get a selfie with Portugal international Christiano Ronaldo. What did Ronaldo do? Naturally he posed for the selfie. Never miss an opportunity to look good. CR7 don’t. 

And there are other crazy people who have tried to so the same in the past, like this woman during a chanpions league game last season. 

However maybe the most amazing examples of selfies comes from photos taken in dangerous environments, like these ones. 

My personal favourite selfie is a photo taken by a NASA astronaut in space. 

So to the selfiecommunity out there – keep going, our selfies will never be forgotten since they live forever on the Internet. 

Tonight Cleveland Cavaliers did what nobody before have done – they came back from 1-3 in games to beat champions Golden State Warriors 4-3 by winning the 7th and final game 93-89. 

Having had a 89-89 tie just before the ending. The difference? The chosen one, LeBron James. 

James had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the clincher, after going off for 41 points apiece in Games 5 and 6 when Cavaliers beat the favorites and considered almost unbeatable Golden State lead by the charismatic Stephen Curry. 

After leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat in 2010 and winning two titles, LeBron – an Akron native – returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 to deliver a title to the Ohio city that hadn’t seen a championship in any major sport since the Cleveland Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship.

He kept his promise, he delivered. What a hero he is, LeBron James. 

Yesterday I changed my route on my way from Brazil, transfering at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Instead lf going home, I went to Dubai UAE for meetings today (Sunday).

Schiphol is my favourite transit airport in Europe. It is way better than the rest. Even though they are rebuilding the airport right now and there are some constructiln wirk going on, it is still the best. When the new facilities are all in place it will be among the best airports in the world competing with Changi Interntional Airport in Singapore and KL International in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Schipol has a smart “spider-like” construction with a center and seberal arms – all within fast walking distance from the middle center of the airport. Inbthe new clnstructions some of the terminal arms have been doubled to two levels, increasing the capacity of the airport without creating a need for time consuming transit/transfer moves.

I alwys try to go though Amsterdam when I can, since also the public commercial area (restaurants, lounges and shopping) is of highest class. This is an excellent airport recommended by me. 

Since we live in the age of globalization and information, our lives will be changing faster and faster, and the future will be less predictable. We need predictability. However only one thing is sure, the world will never be the same again. 

This means that our ability to innovate will become the single most important and critical skill in the future. 

We will have to invent new models and methods for our daily professional and personal lives, over and over again. This will create massive pressure on our abolity to innovate, our environments to innovate and our culture of innovation. 
So how good are we on innovation? The World Economic Forum (WEF) has for many years repeated a major study on global innovation and they also publish the findings on annual basis. 

I am not surprised to find Scandinavian countries at the top of the list. We have always had a culture of innovation, research and devlopment – that is why no country per capita has more companies on the Forbes500 list than Sweden. This culture of innovation has developed our nation and society from being a poor country to being one of the richest countries in the world today. Our culture allows mistakes and innovation is about having a vision, an idea, testing it over and over again until it works – learning from the failures and mistakes – until that specific idea works, is implemented and at the end of the day changes the world. Some people claim say that you need a thousand bad ideas to find the good one.

However, innovation is more than good ideas. It also about shaping climate of innovation in a country or organization. 
All successful organizations has a leadership that embraces innovation, allow everybody in the organization to explore their ideas for the greater good of the organization, supports and motivates people to think on their own, endorses own initiatives (wherever they come from) and salute change. Unfortunately not all our organizations and leaders are like that today, but in the future they have to be to survive. 

Innovation has to be the air, what we breath. Mankind would not be where we are today, curing deadly deseases and making space trips – if it wasn’t for innovation. 

This is important also for the world of Customs, borders and trade. We need more innovation and in the future we will get it. 

One of the things that has fascinated mankind since the beginning of time is communication. It is one of the things that seperates us from other spiecies, the ability to use advanced communication.

There are basically two important things for in relation to communication, the language and how we use it. Today there are so many platforms and arenas for communication that it has become more important how you say things than waht you say. To make your messagevheard in the great global information ocean. It id not simple and it is not easy. However, one thing is still crucial, you need a language to communicate. We need a common language to understand each other. 

How to use it? It is an art of its own and I will expand on that another day. Today in this posting I will focus on the importance of langauge. 

I am happy to come from a small country, a trading nation that always has treasured the use of different languages.
We have to learn other langauges early since there are only 12-13 million people in the world that speak Swedish. 

Almost all Swedish people speaks at least one more language – normally English, and most people speaks two additional languages. In addition there are many people that speak three, four or even more languages. 

If you travel Sweden you will have no problem finding somebody that speaks your language. Children with parents having more than one native langauge (maybe a mother from Chile and a father from Croatia) has a legal right to be offered to study also the additional langauges in ordinary public schools. This is in addition to Swedish and the generally offered langauges, today normally English, German, French, Spanish, Portugues, Russian and Mandarin. 

Even refugees are offered free studies not only in Swedish but also their own home language.

In public school today in Sweden our children starts reading a second language at the age of six, a third language at nine and then they can add on more languages during the obligatory twelve years of school studies. We also watch all TV and movies in original language, which is something many European countries don’t. 

Having said that, language is getting more and more important in Europe in general. 

The EU statistical bureau Eurostat has studied the use of languages in the European Union Memberstates. There is a report about this on the EU Commission website, very interesting reading. 

The latest study shows that two-thirds of the population of European Union knows a second language other than the natove one. That is a really good number. 
It is an amazing power for a person and for a country of people to be multilingual. 
When we work with capacity building the ability to support in the language of the reciever is a key success criteria. I will give you an example. 

There was a major change of the World Customs Organization that maybe hasn’t been so much talked about afterwards as it should, but that I personally think is one of the most successful things that we have verbdone – and that was the thenimplementation of the WCO Language Fund. 

When I started my work as Director of Capacity Building inbthe WCO in 2006, I found out that there were several geographical areas where the organization was not present and/or active. An analysis showed that it had to do with the language challenge. WCO has two official langauges, English and French. But you can’t deliver capacity building in Latin America, CPLP, Central Asia or MENA in English or French. In fact my discussions with colleagues from these countries showed thst many of the Members didn’t even know about the capacity building services we offered in the WCO, due to the fact that they did not send any participants to our meetings because of the language barrier. So we had to change this and we did. 

When I initiated the WCO Langaue Fund it became directly a success. I was also lucky that my home country, the Government of Sweden, agreed with our analysis of the importance of langauge when doing capacity building and Sweden was the first donor to the fund with a contribution of 1 million Euro. So the fund was implemented. 

We could then, offer interpretation and translation in a number of new languages (Arabic, Portugese, Russian and Spanish) at WCO meetings. We also initiated specific accreditation workshops for capacity building experts for these lanaguage groups, making it possible to deliver missions and workshops on all necessary langauges. We started to offer a number of our key capacity buidling and development programmes in other languages, like eg. the Leadership Development programme, the Fellowship programme and the e-learning programme. 

This initiativ has fundamantally changed the WCO. Member countries send their best experts to meetings, instead of somebody that speaks English. Capacity Building missions are delivered on the recievers own langauge. Not always, but more than before. People in the entire Membership know about the WCO services. 
Today we see so much more interest and participation from these regions in the SCO daily activities and thus has WCO Members as well as the international supply chain and global trade, been improved due to the language reform of the WCO. This is something I am very proud of. However, it is not enough. We need more. 

The next following decade the need for cooperation, global partnerships, more harmonization and standardization will increase tremendously and grow exponentially. We need to re-vitalize and further develop our work on communication and languages. 
Communication is the key and without langauges, no communication.

The power of our langauge.