Stockholm (NordSIP) “Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges”, the initiative launched last month by the leaders of the five Nordic countries at a meeting of the Nordic Council of Ministers (May 30), is attempting to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals as closely as possible, it has emerged, as more details become available as to what the initiative entails.
The €10 million initiative is grounded in the belief that Nordic experience and solutions in solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass power can be applied elsewhere. “The Nordic Region is the most integrated region in the world,” the leaders of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland wrote in an opinion letter to Eurobserver last month to mark the launch of Nordic Solutions. “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.”
Nordic Solutions has its origin in the 2015 Paris Accord and the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda the same year that outlined 17 SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals), and has been further developed in the interim to match the SDG’s in six core areas: energy solutions, climate solutions, sustainable cities, gender effect in the workplace environment, welfare solutions and what it terms a ‘food policy lab’. The six core areas and their SDG targets are outlined as follows.
1) Energy Solutions principally addresses SDG 7 – “affordable and clean energy”. It also impacts on SDG 2 – “poverty reduction”, SDG 3 – “improved health”, SDG 4 – “education”, SDG 5 – “gender equality”, SDG 8 – “economic growth”, SDG 11 – “sustainable cities and communities”, SDG 13 – “climate action”, and SDG 17 – the “partnership approach”. Energy solutions
- Prioritizes activities identifying gaps in policy, financing and technology for renewables in developing countries and ways to reduce these gaps in order to leverage further investments.
- Aims to complement instead of duplicate existing solutions and setups for the UN goal of ‘ sustainable energy for all’ at both national and international levels.
- Focuses on a few specific countries in East Africa where Nordic governments, companies and other organizations are already involved and where the possibility for further expansion has been identified. For example, as reported by NordSIP, Denmark has already committed an investment of roughly US$ 145 million to the Kenyan market, half of the funds of which are destined to sustainable development projects.
2) Climate Solutions covers Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFSR) and Nordic Green to Scale:
- FFSR supports voluntary reforms, ideally by introducing policies like carbon pricing or redistributing budgetary savings as alternatives to climate mitigation. This contributes to cutting emissions in partner countries and serves as inspiration for developing counties facing similar conditions.
- The Green to Scale programme scales up 15 existing and hitherto successful climate solutions used in one or more of the Nordic countries, e.g. residential heat pumps and low-carbon energy in industry and manure management. The programme could save 4.1 Gt CO2 equivalents by 2030 if broadly implemented in comparable countries.
3) Sustainable Cities addresses SDG 11, “sustainable cities and communities”.
- SC is run in close collaboration with national trade promotion agencies, clusters and businesses, highlighting cooperation between Nordic stakeholders and increased opportunities for export.
- The ‘Nordic Edge Expo’ in September will examine the role of the Nordic model in building the cities of the future.
4) The ‘Gender Effect at Work’ programme applies to SDG 5 – “gender equality”, and SDG 8 – “decent work and economic growth”, and is developed from the strong ethos and cultural underpinning of gender equality across the Nordics.
“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 five Nordic leaders said in their letter last month.
“The region has proven that equal rights for women and men at work generate prosperity, productivity and economic development,” added Julia Faldt-Wahengo, the programme’s project manager and originator.
5) Welfare Solutions addresses SDG 3 – “good health and well-being”, SDG 9 – “industry, innovation and infrastructure”, and SDG 12 – “responsible consumption and production”.
- Welfare solutions leans on the healthcare transformation in the Nordic countries in recent years, which have created new opportunities to establish solutions and concepts, such as user-oriented technologies and robot solutions, and bring them into the market for future healthcare systems earlier than in other countries.
- Such solutions, such as telemedicine and e-health systems, can be transposed to less developed countries in the world: “The Nordic countries are world leading at sustainable hospitals,” said Mona Truelsen, project leader. “Environmentally sustainable solutions have been developed in the Nordic region due to rigorous rules and regulations within areas such as construction and waste management.”
6) The Food Policy Lab will encourage Nordic policy solutions to contribute to solve food issues as outlined in the SDG’s in order to educate consumers to take sustainability into account when making food choices.
- The initiative will take its point of departure from the renowned Stop Wasting Food movement, which has led to a considerable reduction in food waste in Denmark, alongside other Nordic initiatives.
- The initiative is primarily of interest to other countries within the EU and North America, where the problem of food waste is endemic.
“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,” the letter outlining the Nordic Solutions platform stated last month.