Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges – new PMs’ initiative and programme for the 2030 Agenda

The Nordic Prime Ministers have decided to launch a new collaborative programme, Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges, as a direct response to many of the most pressing issues specified in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The initiative will focus on innovative Nordic solutions for carbon-neutral development, sustainable cities, food and welfare, and gender equality. In addition, a new sustainable development programme is under way, aimed at implementing the 2030 Agenda through extensive stakeholder engagement.

By Páll Tómas Finnsson

Five flagship projects drawing on Nordic core competencies
Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges will promote joint Nordic efforts that contribute to meeting the global demand for solutions to the world’s major challenges. It comprises five flagship projects in three categories: Nordic Green, Nordic Food and Welfare and Nordic Gender Effect, each based on different Nordic core competencies.

“The objective of the new initiative is to promote good examples of Nordic solutions to the global challenges and achieve the UN’s new global Sustainable Development Goals,” says Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dagfinn Høybråten.

Nordic Green – Sustainable cities, climate and energy
Nordic Green, which will be launched at COP22 in Marrakech, consists of two projects: Nordic Sustainable Cities and Nordic Climate and Energy Solutions.

Nordic Sustainable Cities is a continuation of the Nordic Built Cities programme, managed by Nordic Innovation, which has explored development of sustainable, liveable and smart cities through challenge competitions in the Nordic countries and the Faroe Islands. The aim is to demonstrate and export solutions for sustainable urban development in response to the rapid global urbanisation – by 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. Focus will be on building relationships in growth markets with large export potentials for Nordic companies.

“The Nordic countries have built some of the world’s most sustainable, smart and attractive cities,” says Carina Christensen, Managing Director of Nordic Innovation. “In this project, our aim is to showcase and export the solutions that make our cities so exceptional.”

As described in Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives 2016, the Nordic region is in a unique position with its decarbonised energy systems. The objective of Nordic Climate and Energy Solutions is to meet the global demand for these solutions, demand that is expected to rise exponentially following the Paris Agreement. Work to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies, started together with the IISD Global Subsidies Initiative, will also continue in this project. The aim is to develop best practices and a road map for the phase-out of national subsidies for fossil fuels, in co-operation with key Nordic and international organisations.

“We’ve demonstrated that we can come up with ambitious and tangible solutions for addressing climate change that can be shared with the rest of the world,” says Annika Lindblom, member of the Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development.

Nordic Food and Welfare – Sustainable food and welfare solutions
The two projects in the Nordic Food and Welfare category are Nordic Food and Nutrition and Nordic Welfare Solutions. The objective of Nordic Food and Nutrition is to use Nordic knowledge to address the world’s acute food problems. Currently, food production is neither economically nor environmentally sustainable, and while two billion people suffer from a lack of nutrition, a further two billion are overweight. The project will build on the experience and research from New Nordic Food and the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations to support more sustainable food production, delivering better value for producers and healthier products for consumers. Building on the success of previous initiatives, Nordic Welfare Solutions will promote innovative solutions aimed at generating a healthy life for all and wellbeing in all age groups.

Nordic Gender Effect
The Nordic Deal – Gender, Business and Work is a flagship project drawing on the Nordic countries’ renowned ability in working towards gender equality. The Nordic model has demonstrated that investment in gender equality yields both sustainability and economic benefits.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes clear that gender equality is a prerequisite for global sustainability. The Nordic countries are forerunners in this area, and targeted investment has been a crucial part of the region’s success. The Nordic Deal – Gender, Business and Work will showcase practical models for gender equality, primarily focusing on the right to parental leave, flexible working hours and affordable, high-quality childcare, as well as Nordic leadership and organisational practices.

New programme for sustainable development in 2017
The Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development is preparing a new sustainable development initiative for the Nordic Council of Ministers, addressing the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The group is currently conducting a gap analysis to identify potential areas of co-operation and develop a joint Nordic programme for sustainable development. Stakeholder engagement will be extensive, involving both public and private actors and civil society.

“Agenda 2030 is a step forward in that all countries more or less understand that we cannot achieve sustainable development unless our economic models and growth patterns are sustainable,” says Lindblom. “The challenge for developed countries in the coming years is to ensure that all activities addressing sustainable development and green growth are coherent with the COP21 Paris Agreement and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

“It is not enough to just enable implementation of sustainable development in developing countries,” continues Lindblom. “We must also look at ways in which we can improve our own performance and implementation of sustainable development, as well as our climate and development co-operation. The Nordic region shouldn’t miss this opportunity to lead the way in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ensure sustained and sustainable growth.”

The Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development is now preparing its proposals based on input from the various stakeholders.

“I’m very pleased and excited that we will be launching two highly prioritised initiatives in 2017, aimed at implementing the UN 2030 Agenda,” says Høybråten. “The Prime Ministers’ initiative and the Nordic 2030 programme will be the two main building blocks for our work with sustainable development in the coming years.”

From the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
“We resolve, between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. We resolve also to create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities.”

“The objective of the new initiative is to promote good examples of Nordic solutions to the global challenges and achieve the UN’s new global Sustainable Development Goals”

Dagfinn Høybråten,
Secretary General of the NCM

Building on the success of previous initiatives, Nordic Welfare Solutions will promote innovative solutions aimed at generating a healthy life for all and wellbeing in all age groups.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes clear that gender equality is a prerequisite for global sustainability.