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“We must counteract this threat to our open societies”

“We must help each other to counteract this threat to our open societies. To defend democracy and human rights. And to maintain free trade, collaboration, and open borders. This is more important than ever,” said Marcus Wallenberg in his opening address to SEB’s Annual General Meeting.

Marcus Wallenberg pointed out that it was three years since SEB last invited shareholders to an AGM, before the coronavirus pandemic and before all the consequences this virus has had on people and companies around the world. He also asked the question who could have imagined that in the wake of a pandemic we would experience a war so close to home.

“We follow the course of events with sorrow and dismay. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is indefensible. It is a violation of international law. And it is an attack against freedom, democracy and openness -–against the fundamental values on which our societies rest,” he insisted.

He emphasised his thoughts go first and foremost to all the people affected by this brutal Russian invasion. All those who are forced to flee from violence and war, all those who are wounded, who have lost a loved one and who now see their country being shattered.

But he pointed out that in addition to the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine and the surrounding area, the Russian invasion also creates a number of uncertainties at a global level, not least for the world economy.

“How will energy supplies and energy prices be affected? What will happen to trade, access to technology and the global value chains? What will the consequences be for monetary policy? And, over time, what will be the impact of all this on people, companies and our open societies?”

Marcus Wallenberg said that in his opinion if we have learnt anything during the pandemic, it is the importance of collaboration to get us through shared difficulties. 

“We need to maintain this spirit of cooperation even in this new security situation. And we have also seen how the world has come together. With joint efforts between countries and between continents, within the EU and among politicians, companies and citizens.” 

Climate and digitalisation

After this plea for free trade, collaboration and borders, Marcus Wallenberg also touched on the climate issue and the need for substantial investment in climate adjustment measures in order to offset the effects of climate change.

“When the nations of the world now try to navigate the economic consequences of the war, we must at the same time continue to think sustainably. We still have the possibility to slow down global warming. But this means we must not slacken the pace of this vital work for a more sustainable future for generations to come;” he said.

Marcus Wallenberg also stated that digitalisation is another topic that continues to grow in importance.

“Our societies are becoming increasingly digital with all the opportunities and challenges – and threats, that this entails. Opportunities – in the form of communication, accessibility and new business opportunities. Challenges – involved in complying with and maintaining regulatory requirements. And threats – with financial crime, cyber-attacks and malicious attempts to disable key functions in society,” he said.

The full address is published on this page

AGM 2022 | SEB (sebgroup.com)