Swedish steel industry for increased societal value

Sweden is a good place for steel making. Swedish steel products play a vital role when it comes to generating societal or community value around the world and in different spheres. In its industry-wide vision for 2050, Sweden’s steel industry has established the goal that only products of value to the community will leave the steel plants. Together with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the steel companies, Jernkontoret is carrying out research into the concept of societal value and how the steel industry can achieve its bold vision for the future. 

Only products of value to the community will leave the companies

By the year 2050, only products of value to the community will leave the steel companies. This is in line with the third commitment of the steel industry’s vision for 2050. Both products that create societal value (operations and products) and societal value itself are relative concepts, it is true. They need to be interpreted in both the shorter and longer term, regionally and globally as well as in respect of the products and processes themselves. The work to implement the third commitment is carried out on the basis of the following convictions: that focusing on value to the community strengthens the competitiveness of the Swedish steel industry; that Swedish steel products play a significant role in creating societal value globally and, last but not least, that Sweden is a particularly good place to make steel.

Working together to increase steel’s societal value

To find out more about how the concept of societal value can be applied and understood, Jernkontoret, the steel industry and SEI, in 2015, initiated a two-year collaboration project. The purpose was to generate a deeper understanding of the concept of societal value and also of what the steel industry and other players must do to contribute to a sustainable community and to societal value creation. The project resulted in, among other things, a proposal for ten strategic action points for community value and a scenario report for 2050.

Proposed strategic action points for achieving the Swedish steel industry's 2050 vision

Ten proposed strategic action points for achieving the Swedish steel industry's 2050 vision.

The year 2016 saw the start of a new two-year project, based on the action plan to develop a "societal value compass" in order to steer the industry towards the community value goals of 2050, using as a starting point the UN’s 17 global goals

Under the hash tag #societalvalue one can find various perspectives and comments from 2015 and more recently. Further down the page you can find a number of films connected with different occasions when discussions have centred on the concept of societal value.

Project 1: Swedish steel industry for increased societal value, 2015-2016

There is a high degree of uncertainty concerning developments in the world – in both the shorter (2020) and longer term (2050). Regardless of one’s view or opinion about the future, these uncertainty factors must be faced by the Swedish steel industry in its efforts to achieve the vision of leading technical developments in the industry as well as attracting and developing creative talents and collaboration partners in order to deliver only products of value to the community. Shared advances in knowledge, a scenario report for 2050 and a project report in the form of a ten point strategic action plan were key results of the work carried out during the first part of the project,.

The four scenarios served as the starting point for continuing work into how different types of strategic measure can contribute to maintaining the steel industry as one that is competitive and that creates societal value; but also one that successfully navigates in relation to future scenarios and actively contributes to desirable future outcomes. The proposals for the ten strategic measures presented in the final report are hence relevant, quite independently of which scenario – or indeed which combination of scenario – should actually occur. It is the overall effect of the proposals which are mutually reinforcing. However, the actions of a number of different stakeholders are required to obtain full value from this process, since this interaction is a prerequisite for actually achieving the vision set forth.

In addition to these reports, four films were also produced; a short and a long film on the final reporting on the project itself together with a short and a long film from the seminar #samhällsnytta on 8 June (see below).

Project 2: Development of methods and toolbox for assessment of societal value within the Swedish steel industry, October 2016 - January 2018

In October 2016, Jernkontoret and SEI started a continuation project. On the basis of the map (action plan) from the first project a “societal value compass” will be developed. The idea is that the compass will show the route to as much societal value as possible in relation to the UN’s global targets and interim goals for 2030, as well as looking into how societal value can be linked to the societal balance sheet. Results from workshops held will contribute essential input to the project.

To begin with, overall analyses are carried out into how the global targets interact with, or indeed counteract, one another nationally and globally. These analyses will be used in the first workshop. Some thirty or so selected persons from industry, the academic world, politics and civic affairs will be invited to discuss how the steel industry can further add to its positive effects and, at the same time, minimise any negative effect on the societal value created in Sweden and internationally.

During the spring and summer, the plan is to develop a prototype for a “societal value compass” and this will subsequently be tested. During the turn of the year 2017/2018 the results will be presented at a number of seminars.

Why we are conducting a research project into societal value

By offering products that everyone needs in their daily life, a sustainable future is ensured. The steel industry plays an important role in Sweden’s development. Through its export performance, the industry contributes to Sweden’s high standard of living. The development of the steel industry and the wider community are indeed affected by external factors such as globalisation, individualisation, digitalisation, urbanisation and climate change. These factors must be taken into account when business people and politicians (public–private platforms) actively create preconditions for a process and product development that can make a contribution to societal value.

UN's Global goals

In the steel industry’s vision for 2050 there is a commitment to leadership in technical development, the creative development of individuals and societal value creation. The different stakeholders who ensure their activities deliver societal value will find their activities justified as ever more discriminating customers and consumers make ever higher demands.

The project with SEI is run jointly in a co-creation process, where the respective organisation’s knowledge is utilised and combined with invited participants from across society as a whole; the academic world, politics, public authorities and companies.

See also: Meeting the UN Global Goals, Cross-linkages and examples from the Swedish steel industry 

Further information in Swedish

On our Swedish website there are videos (in Swedish) from several seminars about the project