A nerd with defence readiness and prioritisation as keywords

The work of the EBA is guided by an Expert Group, which decides on the focus and the studies to be undertaken. As of 1 April, the Expert Group has three new members and now consists of eight experts with a broad knowledge of many areas related to aid.

One of the new members is Jenny Deschamps-Berger, Head of the Analysis Support Division, Centre for Total Defence and Societal Security at the Swedish Defence University.


Tell us a bit about yourself, who are you and what is your background?

I am a bit of a crisis preparedness and total defence nerd. My whole working life has been focused on that. I’ve been involved in closing down the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and building up the Swedish Emergency Management Agency. I have evaluated events and projects to improve our knowledge of how we as a country can better manage events across the threat spectrum.

I worked in Phuket, Thailand in early 2005 as part of the Swedish response to the 2004 tsunami disaster. What struck me then was how well the co-operation between authorities and ministries worked on the ground. The Swedish administration was forced to work in completely new contexts and on different premises and did a brilliant job. I want to work to ensure that it works just as well at home.


What fills your days and thoughts now?

I am now working mainly on defence readiness and resilience issues. What we are prepared to protect and defend. Like our fundamental values, democracy. That the next generation will grow up in a society where they can say what they want, believe what they want and love who they want.

Given the current state of the world, with democracy in decline and freedom of expression and the press in jeopardy, we all need to help protect our democracy. I work a lot with Ukraine. They fight and die every day for what we take for granted, our freedom. Everyone in Sweden needs to raise awareness of the risks that exist and what tools we have to counteract negative developments. Sharing and discussing this is what is most important to me right now.

At the same time, I am also a manager in a high-pressure workplace. In that role, I try to get my staff to work in moderation, to prioritise and to find a balance. When everything is important, we have to decide what is most important, and where we can best contribute based on our skills and our role. I think we are bad at this prioritisation in Sweden. It’s hard to discuss difficult priorities and to communicate what we’re not prioritising.


Why do you think the government has appointed you as an expert group member of the EBA?

‘Well, it can’t be because of my knowledge of aid. However, I know a lot about evaluation and am happy to discuss evaluation methodology, impacts and results. With my knowledge of security and defence policy, I can see how everything is connected in an unpleasant way when you look at developments in the world. We need to see the links, and that’s where I can contribute.

I also think we should talk more in international contexts about the results of Swedish aid and our support for democratic values, organisations and projects. This could strengthen the image of Sweden in the world.

The EBA is a fantastic asset for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – informed knowledge that is close but still independent. Before I accepted the assignment, I asked if they have fun at the expert group meetings. And after the first meeting I can say that we do. There were so many things that struck me: interesting questions, competent people and a high level of commitment. I have so much new to learn. It is fun!