Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway have been highly regarded as the most sustainable countries in the world, due to its vast renewable energy resources, citizen engagement and effective legislation. These counties have consistently emerged ahead of other major European countries on the basis of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, which includes environmental policies, emissions, energy consumption and biodiversity and is a lesson for nations all over the world to follow.
So how do Scandinavian nations achieve sustainability?
Sweden has long been touted as the world’s most sustainable country. According to Firstcarbon Solutions and the Swedish Energy Agency, approximately 44% of the countries resources are powered by renewable energy and this number is likely to hit 50% by 2020. The country has been a pioneer in refining its energy supplies, with massive energy contributions from biofuels and hydroelectric plants. This focus on sustainability has had a ripple effect on Swedish multinational firms such as H&M, Volvo and IKEA who have incorporated organic cotton, development of hybrid vehicles and solar panels into their activities, respectively.
Furthermore, Sweden aims to become the first fossil-fuel free nation by 2050 and this aim is supported by the use of the ‘carbon tax’ implemented in the late 90’s.
Furthermore, the development of energy efficient ‘Passive Houses’ have been a huge phenomena in Sweden’s road to sustainability as it incorporates the production of energy though human body heat and sunlight, leading to the development of many green and eco-friendly buildings.
Copenhagen is seen as one of the most ‘green growing’ nations in the planet because of its focus on becoming the World’s first carbon neutral Capital by 2025. It is a world leader in clean-tech and renewable energy with an ambitious climate change policy. As stated by VisitDenmark, it is also known as the ‘Capital of Sustainable Meetings’ due to the focus placed in the COP15 conference on managing and conducting meetings with the aim of achieving a ‘triple bottom line’ success. This is phenomenon is achieved by encouraging business travellers to fly with Scandinavian Airlines, an airline that offsets CO2 emissions more effectively than other conventional airlines and motivating them to stay in eco-certified hotels prior to their meeting. It also encourages conference event planners to conduct conferences in sustainable locations such as The Bella Center, which is a convention centre aiming to rigorously reduce carbon emissions within the decade and encouraging all businessmen to walk or take the train to these conferences.
This occurrence has changed the business landscape in Denmark and incorporates more sustainability through eco-business meetings.
In addition, Denmark is a world record holder for organic food consumption and also consist of a large proportion of population cycling to work along with a high recycling awareness.
Sustainable development in Norway is not as progressive as the rest of the Scandinavian counties however, environmental legislation is still being constructively implemented and carbon tax plans, however unsuccessful, are consistently being renewed with fresh ideas and further policies.
Nonetheless, Norway has productively succeeded in sustainability for the ‘Aquaculture’, fisheries and fish farming industry, which is without a doubt one of the largest and most prime industries in Norway.
The country has placed an increased significance on aquaculture and fish farming to ensure that the ‘genetic characteristics’ of wild fish stocks do not change, according to Fisheries.no. This may result in a change in the ecological landscape of marine habitat.
In addition to this, Norway have taken further steps towards sustainability by issuing ‘discharge permits’ to prevent fish farming locations from emitting large discharges of salt and organic materials leading to an environmentally sustainable agriculture industry.
Rainforest conservation has also been at the top of Norway’s list with Alternet reporting that Norway donated $1.6 billion towards protecting and conserving rainforests and has subsequently become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation!
To conclude, the rest of the world has a lesson to learn from Scandinavian countries when developing and implementing legislation and education for eco sustainability. These countries have successfully managed to engage in an efficient and productive sustainable means of living while still maintaining jobs and value to their respective industries of importance. Citizen engagement and knowledge has played a key role in achieving this aim.
Nonetheless, Scandinavian countries have spent extensively on renewable sources of energy and occasionally stumbled on the path to sustainability however, as Henry Ford once said
“Failure is the Opportunity to begin again more Intelligently”
and that is exactly how these countries have renewed their efforts to fight for a greener planet.
By Divesh Lachhwani
Alternet. (2016). 12 Ecologically Sustainable Countries and Why They Should Be Admired. [online] Available at: http://www.alternet.org/environment/12-ecologically-sustainable-countries-and-why-they-should-be-admired [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].
Environmentalleader.com. (2016). Sweden ‘Most Sustainable Country in the World’ · Environmental Leader · Environmental Management News. [online] Available at: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2013/08/19/sweden-most-sustainable-country-in-the-world/ [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].
Fisheries.no. (2014). Pollution and discharges. [online] Available at: http://www.fisheries.no/aquaculture/Sustainability/Pollution-and-discharges/#.V-zRmTukXdk [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].
VisitDenmark. (2016). #BeeSustain – the latest buzz in the meetings industry. [online] Available at: http://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/beesustain-latest-buzz-meetings-industry [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].
VisitDenmark. (2016). Sustainable meetings in Denmark. [online] Available at: http://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/sustainable-meetings-denmark [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].
Wilde, B. (2016). How Sweden Became the World’s Most Sustainable Country: Top 5 Reasons. [online] Info.firstcarbonsolutions.com. Available at: http://info.firstcarbonsolutions.com/blog/how-sweden-became-the-worlds-most-sustainable-country-top-5-reasons [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].