Anita Falkenek is Uppsala University Alumnus of the Year 2017
6 October 2017
Anita Falkenek is CEO of Krav and has long worked with environment and sustainability issues. She has a degree in ecotoxicology and biology from Uppsala University. Now she has been awarded the title Alumnus of the Year 2017.
Each year, Uppsala University awards the title of Alumnus of the Year to an alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to their professional field, or has accomplished something else worthy of honouring. This year’s award was announced and awarded during the festive celebrations of Uppsala University’s 540th anniversary on 6 October.
“I’m very taken aback and of course very pleased,” says Anita Falkenek.
Throughout her working life she has dealt with environmental and sustainability issues, as Head of Environment at Ica, at the WWF, and as Head of Sustainability at Åhléns. Since 2015 she is a board member for Miljömärkning Sverige AB – best known for its ‘Svanen’ (swan) labelling of consumer products.
She looks back on her time in Uppsala with joy.
“I have many happy memories. I was involved at Östgöta nation, both in the restaurant and as a welcomer of new students, and the studies were also good fun. In Uppsala there is a great mixture of tradition and innovation.”
Grew up in the countryside
Anita Falkenek grew up in the countryside with nature close by, which is one of the reasons for her serious environmental commitment.
“In school, especially in upper secondary, I became aware of how our lifestyle affects the environment even though it doesn’t always show. That’s why I wanted to be part of the solution. An upper secondary school teacher in biology was also very important and affected my choice,” she says.
As a student in Uppsala she first studied biology for three years, and then took a year and a half of ecotoxicology. The latter has been very useful, including in her work as CEO at Krav.
Well-known environmental labelling
The company has developed Sweden’s best-known labelling for organically produced food. It is not just about avoiding certain pesticides and artificial fertilisers, there are also requirements on animal care, health, social responsibility and climate impact.
“Having studied ecotoxicology, I understand the biological links and can also put them in a larger context. If we for instance marketed FSC-labelled wood products at Åhléns, I could understand how this affected biological diversity in Russia. With my background, it is easier to draw such conclusions,” says Anita Falkenek.
Work at Krav is largely about influencing farmers and companies to produce more organic goods, and to get more consumers to eat more organics, partly through communication.
“Right now we are discussing how we can develop the Krav label to become modern and relevant again.”
From the award citation for Alumnus of the Year 2017:
“Anita Falkenek is deeply committed to and involved in the challenges faced by society and food production today. Through her tireless work, she has contributed to Swedish major companies understanding that environment and sustainability are self-evident areas of development and prerequisites for profitable business activities. Through her work for environmental and sustainability issues, Anita Falkenek has taken an active roll in societal development and contributed to a better world. Thereby, she is a good role model for Uppsala University’s students.”
About the Alumnus of the Year award:
The Alumnus of the Year is selected through a nomination procedure. All with a connection to Uppsala University can suggest candidates for the award. The nominations are handled by a preparatory group consisting of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Director of Communications, Alumni Coordinator, a representative of Uppsala University’s alumni associations, a representative of the student unions and a representative of Kuratorskonventet. The decision on who is to receive the award is made by the Vice-Chancellor following a proposal from the preparatory group.