Sven B. Hamrell ’48

Sven B. Hamrell ’48 died on July 2, 2020 in Uppsala, Sweden. 

(The following was published by The ETC Group on July 13, 2020)

The staff and board of ETC Group are saddened to learn of the passing of Sven Hamrell, aged 92, on July 2, 2020. Sven was long-term former executive director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation (DHF) in Uppsala, Sweden, and “President for Life” of RAFI (the former name of ETC Group). He left a huge imprint on the shape and thinking of global civil society and on RAFI/ETC Group in particular.

Sven was the irrepressible force behind the DHF’s groundbreaking “What Now? Another Development” report in 1975, which laid out a bold and different vision for a post-colonial, ecological and endogenous approach to “development” that is now the mainstream of thinking in international civil society co-operation. Through equally groundbreaking seminars and his editorship of the journal Development Dialogue, Sven and his colleagues at DHF brought together and provided a platform for radical and original thinkers working to challenge the power of corporations and oppressive governments across a range of topics including health, food, technology, democracy, communications and much more.

Sven and DHF commissioned, edited and published several of RAFI/ETC’s most significant publications over the past four decades, bringing the issue of seeds and biopiracy, and later new technologies to wider audiences—including “The Law of the Seed”, “The Laws of Life”, “The Parts of Life” and “The ETC Century”. Sven was Involved with RAFI for over twenty years, sixteen of those as the organization’s only President (until the organization changed name and board chair). One of Sven’s closest colleagues at Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Niclas Halström, continues today as ETC’s current president of the board. ETC Group offers our deepest condolences to Sven’s surviving family and all who will miss his fierce intellect, booming voice and laughter.

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