In remembrance

The International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) mourns Mr. Erik Belfrage, Chairman of the Board (2005-2020), Board Member (1997-2020) and Dear Friend.

NIR Chairman Erik Belfrage

 Mr. Erik Belfrage lost his life to covid-19 on 18 April, 2020. Any attempt to capture Erik’s life in words seems futile, for there would certainly be as many words as the number of people he met during his life. A myriad of meetings with people on all continents. The International Council of Swedish Industry all too soon lost its highly esteemed Chairman of the Board and Sweden lost a tireless advocate for internationalism, free trade and the value of knowledge and dialogue. Erik did not tire. Always equally curious, open, tolerant, positive and energetic. He was alive. As sharp as able and was fully engaged in chartering the way forward into the next decade. In August, Erik would hand over to his successor as Chairman of the Board in conjunction with the festivities of the 60th anniversary of the International Council of Swedish Industry, gathering members, partners and friends.

Erik had a formidable ability to meet people, he saw people and he was a good listener. Thus, he meant a lot to many. As man and as mentor. To us at NIR, and in many other contexts. In Sweden and abroad, a true citizen of the world. We will miss our long-standing Chairman for a long time to come, but we will take his legacy of economic diplomacy into the future, as well as his calling to act as a bridgehead between private and public sector, between north and south, east and west, sometimes beyond conventions .

Erik Belfrage was a globetrotter, a diplomat, a nestor within the Swedish business community, Swedish and French at heart, and if one dared to choose two words to honor Erik they would be in French: esprit (spirituality, wit, resourcefulness) and savoir-vivre (living knowledge, world experience).

“I learned that every mortal will taste death. But only some will taste life.”
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, 13th-century Persian poet

A life well lived. We will always remember you, Erik Belfrage

On behalf of NIR, Christine Bäckström, CEO

Within the private sector, we have always been able to build on the fact that we all speak the same language. We have the same desire to develop our enterprises. The private sector has an ability to spearhead dialogue and build relations across bor­ders, and to find practical solutions. Business needs stability to flourish. More than stability – it needs equality. Free trade should be based on equal opportunities and free choices of who you want to trade with. Free movement of people, goods and financial transactions.


This executive summary presents the findings from the study “Workplace Cooperation: Finding Practical Solutions in the Colombian Context,” conducted by the Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP). The study evaluates the added value of the Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) dialogue and cooperation model within the Colombian labor market.

Throughout 2022, FIP dedicated efforts to thoroughly understand the SWP model, including its concept, foundations, implementation process, and contributions to the labor market. In 2023, FIP documented the experiences of three companies—SKF Latin Trade, Securitas, and Epiroc—that implemented the SWP model in practice. The study also included face-to-face workshops to gather feedback from various stakeholders including civil society, businesses, government, academia, and international cooperation. The findings suggest that the SWP model has the potential to strengthen labor relations, contribute to decent work, and resolve workplace conflicts in Colombia.

The case studies highlight the importance of collaboration between employers and workers to promote decent work and sustainable development in Colombia. They demonstrate that social dialogue facilitates worker participation in labor decision-making, enhances their representativeness, and promotes cooperation between employers and employees, thus improving labor relations and contributing to the well-being of both employees and companies.

The SWP model is particularly noted for improving workplace relationships and commitment to jointly finding solutions to challenges faced by workers and the company. It empowers workers, enhances leadership, and helps integrate business policies into daily practices, reducing the initial disconnect between management objectives and the day-to-day realities of workers. The study also highlights the model’s capacity to manage conflicts constructively, transforming the perception of conflict as an opportunity for improvement. Structured dialogues deepen understanding of the underlying causes of conflicts, fostering empathy and facilitating effective resolution. This promotes a culture of collaboration and a democratic approach to decision-making, building trust.

Additionally, the model is recognized for enabling workers to make decisions, identify challenges, and propose solutions that impact their well-being, and bridging gender gaps in the workplace. Its inclusive approach adapts to the unique needs and characteristics of each company, promoting a stronger and more diverse organizational culture. It also drives good work performance and productivity by involving workers in problem identification and resolution, as well as in implementing improvements and efficiently identifying ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) risks for companies.

The document identifies the SWP model’s added value in empowering direct interaction among labor stakeholders in Colombia, overcoming historical or cultural reservations, and contributing to the development of stronger labor relations and improved workplace environments in the country.

Challenges and opportunities of the model are also discussed. The study points out the importance of addressing value chain risks, particularly in a global context where corporate clients demand decent work processes and due diligence. It emphasizes the need to integrate SMEs into this process and use anchor companies as drivers of social dialogue throughout the value chain. The role of the state in social dialogue and the importance of highlighting the benefits of the model for adoption across various business sectors are discussed.

The opportunities of the model include raising awareness of human rights in the workplace in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP), to strengthen due diligence, manage risks, promote long-term sustainability, and improve organizational culture. The document also underscores the importance of involving workers in change processes, leveraging their insights for continuous improvement of processes, and fostering innovation opportunities. Lastly, it suggests replicating the model in value chains to address work environment risks and gender biases, involving suppliers and contractors, and integrating the model into corporate policies to strengthen existing programs and transform organizational culture towards resource efficiency and effective participation of employers and workers.