“We can tackle our challenges much more effectively.”

For as long as she can remember, Vlora Makolli has wanted to create places that make people feel welcome and secure. Vlora currently works as a social strategist at ÅF while studying for a master’s degree in law and is engaged in an association working to increase the involvement of young people in social processes. With the merger of ÅF and Pöyry, Vlora sees an increased opportunity for the company to exercise influence, but also an even greater responsibility as a leading stakeholder in the work to create a more sustainable world.

The city of Vlora is one of Albania’s largest, as well as being one of the country’s most popular seaside resorts. It is also the city after which Vlora Makolli is named and a favourite destination to visit with her family.

“Vlora was also the city in which Albania declared its independence in 1912, making it especially important to many Albanians. It is therefore also an important place for my family and one of the reasons I was named Vlora,” she explains.

Vlora is 24 years old and grew up in Malmö with her family. She currently works as a social strategist at ÅF while studying for a master’s degree in law at Lund University. She is also involved with the TIF – an association working to increase the participation of young people in social processes. As an active member of the LSU, the Swedish youth organisation, Vlora has been appointed to the Swedish Government’s delegation to the United Nations High-level Political Forum in New York, where the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are followed up and reviewed.

“While at the UN, I will be advancing a youth perspective and striving to ensure a solid foundation, even among young citizens. I am passionate about sustainability and creating an inclusive society, which is where increasing the influence of youth globally and in urban development comes in. It is vital that the voices of young people are also heard. If we fail to ask them what kind of society they want, how can we then create places they want to inhabit and a future they want to live in?” says Vlora. 

As long as Vlora can remember, she has been interested in creating places where everyone feels safe and welcome.

“I can’t immediately put my finger on where my commitment comes from; however, I remember that when I was health and safety representative in primary school, I was more concerned with the social than the physical aspects of the school’s safety and it was this that I discussed at meetings with the headteacher and teachers. It was also there that I began to question how things work,” explains Vlora. 

At ÅF, Vlora currently works with process management, strategy and dialogue creation in urban development projects. In future she is hoping to combine her law degree with her passionate interest in sustainable development, although as yet she is not certain in what capacity.

“I know that I want to work to create communities in which everyone feels involved. This may involve working with anything from legal processes to urban development,” says Vlora.

With the merger of ÅF and Pöyry, she believes that the company will be able to take a clearer position and redouble its efforts to a achieve sustainable development everywhere from small communities to the global stage.

“I believe that this merger, which increases our size not only in Sweden but also internationally, can help to ensure that we can tackle our challenges much more effectively. We will become an important stakeholder in the global arena while at the same time retaining our local associations, which is also the idea behind the SDGs – think globally, act locally. We not only have increased opportunities to exert influence, we also have a greater responsibility to be a leading stakeholder in efforts to achieve sustainable development,” concludes Vlora.