As a result of our wide contact network, we were able to quickly adjust our support after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. We were able to provide targeted crisis support to changemakers in and outside of Ukraine. The support has developed and increased in many parts of our operation, especially within our exchange- and leadership programmes, our project support, our alumni network activities, and through our scholarship programme. The aim of said initiatives is to contribute to a sustainable development to the benefit of the Ukrainian civil society, and to support capacity development ahead of the reconstruction of Ukraine.
The Swedish Institute continues to work with the website ru.sweden.se and social media accounts about Sweden in Russian. Ukrainians are the third-most visited nationality of the website where information about the Swedish language and finding work in Sweden are the most visited pages. We are well aware of the sensitivity of communicating in Russian towards Ukrainian target groups, but followers from Ukraine continue to follow our Russian-speaking channels, especially Facebook (approx. 75k out of 220k) where they usually communicate in Ukrainian, a language our moderators understand and reply to (in Russian). We can also see that our value-based content attains a better reach and engagement than usual.
Our publications on how Sweden is perceived around the world have been requested to a higher extent because of the current political situation but also because of Sweden’s NATO application.
Last spring, SI decided to offer a crisis support programme to Swedish organisations who were able to support particularly vulnerable Ukrainian changemakers who, due to war, were prevented from operating in their respective fields, such as the cultural sector, media and civil society. We conducted a targeted call for applications in April 2022 where 11 projects within literature, film and photography, residency activities, and architecture and city planning, were awarded project support.
This year we have conducted a first open call for application within the new programme Creative Partnership Programme. The programme provides support to Swedish organisations and their international partners within civil society-, culture- and media sector. The aim is to enable collaborative projects focusing on democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression. The call for application recently closed and 17 applications were received from Ukraine, more than any other country in the programme region of Eastern-Europe, followed by Georgia with 11 applications. The decision of projects granted funding will be taken in April.
Support for academic cooperation in the Baltic Sea region
During last year’s call within the support form Academic cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, we had a special focus on Ukraine. The call received a strong response with a total of 52 applications from 21 Swedish universities, research institutes and regions. Out of these, 10 projects focusing on supporting academia in Ukraine, were granted funding. Even before, the programme has had a strong emphasis on Ukraine, in particular, between the years 2020–2022 when the country was included in 66 percent of the granted projects.
One example of projects supported in 2022 is investigating how modern modular technology can be used to build wooden houses as a large-scale element of the reconstruction of war-torn residential areas in Ukraine. Another project focuses on sustaining research and technology transfer for sustainable wheat breeding in Ukraine. In the long term, this may have an impact on the availability of wheat globally as Ukraine is one of the main grain exporters.
SI Baltic Sea Neighbourhood Programme
The SI Baltic Sea Neighbourhood Programme is a new programme that finances projects in which Swedish organisations work on cross-border challenges together with organisations from the EU countries around the Baltic Sea and countries in the EU’s Eastern Partnership. The call closed in March and 52 percent of the 71 applications received included Ukrainian partners. Decisions on funding are made in June.
Other forms of support
Ukraine has been included in the forms of support SI has had in the Baltic Sea region for a long time, for example through seed-funding and Third Country Cooperation and previously within the framework of the Visby Programme. Within the support form seed-funding, Ukraine has s been included in 66 projects with 115 actors. SI’s project database lists projects within seed-funding, Third Country Cooperation, Support for academic cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region and Creative Force.
Within the framework of SI’s leadership programmes, SI Leader Lab 2023 has just started with 10 participants from Ukraine. In 2022, 15 Ukrainians received a diploma for their participation in SI Academy for Young Professionals.
Within the mission of promoting sustainable development and supporting the 2030 Agenda, SI has awarded eight Swedish higher education institutions to implement the Swedish Institute Public Sector Innovation Programme. The programme aims to organise training for civil servants and elected representatives on the topic of innovation and modernization of the public sector. The following three educational programmes have been awarded with focus on Ukraine, the programmes started in March 2023 and will continue until the beginning of 2024:
- Södertörn University, Resilient and Strategic Decision Making for EU integration: Ukraine
- Lund University, Innovation in Governance for Urban Nature-Based Solutions: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine
- Stockholm University, Rethinking Cities in Ukraine: Ukraine
SI Scholarship for Global Professionals is a fully-funded international scholarship programme for master’s studies in Sweden. The programme is aimed towards students and professionals from 41 countries with the ambition of contributing to positive change and sustainable development. 16 Ukrainian students were awarded the SI scholarship for Global Professionals in the academic year 2022/2023. The application process for the academic year 2023/2024 has just finished and 23 Ukrainians have applied.
The Swedish Institute work to strengthen and maintain contact with alumni of the various SI scholarship and leadership programmes, and those who have studied in Sweden on their own means.
To support SI alumni in and outside of Ukraine who have been affected by the Russian invasion, SI approved three applications during 2022 from the local SI Alumni network in Ukraine. SEK 210 000 was awarded to purchase and distribute sleeping bags and sleeping pads for shelters, first-aid kits, books for children and local libraries, as well as individual financial support for SI alumni who were acutely affected by the war in various ways.
In February 2023 the alumni network in Ukraine, with the support of SI, organised a meet-up of Ukrainian alumni residing in Sweden and the network is planning several activities throughout the year.
Network and collaborations
In addition to the activities that directly aim to contribute to Ukraine’s capacity, SI contributes to networking and cooperation in several contexts, for example within the framework of the Swedish Presidency of the EU’s strategy for the Baltic Sea region. Among other things, SI and the Cabinet Committee co-arranged a hybrid conference on 8 December to explore how the strategy can be used to support Ukraine. The final conference will take place in June and will focus on the collaboration between the strategy and Ukraine and how additional initiatives can be developed.