Stockholm (NordSIP) – Meeting in Bergen, Norway under the umbrella of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Prime Ministers Stefan Löfven of Sweden, Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark, Erna Solberg of Norway, Juha Sipilä of Finland and Bjarni Bendediktsson of Iceland issued a joint statement Tuesday (May 30) on a new initiative designed as a response to increasing global interest in Nordic sustainability policies and products.
The objective of the new DKK 74 million initiative, entitled “Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges”, is to share knowledge of six flagship projects on the themes “Nordic Green”, the “Nordic Gender Effect” and “Nordic Food & Welfare” through dialogue and partnerships with other regions with the aim of sharing solutions in order to drive progress towards the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The Nordic Region is the most integrated region in the world,” the five leaders wrote in an opinion letter to Eurobserver. “By working closely together, our countries were the first to succeed in decoupling economic growth from climate change. For almost two decades now, we have been reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and cutting greenhouse gas emissions, without negatively affecting jobs and the economy.”
Among the things the five countries want to share with the world is how they have made cities across the Nordics good places to live, and what they have learned about renewable energy and market models for sustainable energy investment.
“The Nordic region has long led the way when it comes to the relationship between gender equality and economic growth. Investment in gender equality in the labour market – for example, parental leave and high quality childcare – has been crucial in making this one of the most prosperous regions in the world.”
“We have learned a great deal about the benefits of having a high proportion of women in work, and we want to share this with parts of the world where gender equality is not the norm. The same applies to a number of positions of strength in welfare, for example: innovative Nordic solutions for dealing with the challenges of an ageing population. Many of the Nordic initiatives to produce healthy, tasty and sustainable food could also be introduced elsewhere, helping countries where food producers face environmental challenges and where malnutrition and obesity are problems.”
“Sharing what we have learned will help the world to make progress towards the ambitious targets set by global leaders two years ago. It will also enhance the global business potential of Nordic companies, create jobs and generate continued growth and prosperity in the region.”
Meanwhile, Dr Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” voiced scepticism about the initiative, saying the ministers have their priorities backward. Dr Lomborg suggests the risk of the message being delivered by the Nordic leaders is that “it’s less important to focus on targets like eliminating tuberculosis and malaria or reducing global maternal mortality, than to advance SDG targets like the development of tools to monitor sustainable tourism, or promoting ‘education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles’, whatever that may mean.”
“The Nordic Solution initiative is well-meaning,” Dr Lomborg writes, “but it tells the world that Scandinavia cares more about rich Northerners’ own concerns than what the poor need.” Read his criticism based on research conducted by his CCC institute here.