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Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way
WEB MAGAZINE - March 2019

Long way ahead for the Nordics

The Nordic countries have among the highest material footprints in the world, and if everyone consumed as much as us in the Nordics, we would need between 3 and 4 planets to support us.

This is reflected in the performance data on the SDGs where the Nordics are top-performers with the general implementation of Agenda 2030, but far behind when it comes to the environmental goals, in particular goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production and goal 13 on climate action.

Mapping the progress

In 2018, the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) published a report on the Nordic countries’ progress towards achieving SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production, and of the way ahead. The report maps the progress that the Nordic region has made on the 11 targets of SDG 12 up until 2018.

Benchmarking against other countries indicates that Nordic countries are in the absolute top when it comes to support to developing countries, while the performance is average or below average for many of the remaining targets.

In the report, “little progress” was perceived to have been made in the Nordic region for target 12.2, to achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources, and target 12.C, to rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.

Finland and Norway top the European rankings of Material footprint, with Denmark and Sweden in places 6 and 7. This is partly due to wealth, but also that Sweden, Norway and Finland have heavy extractive industries such as timber, iron and oil, whereas many European countries have outsourced most of its heavy industries abroad. Furthermore, the Nordic tax expenditures on fossil fuels are some of the highest of the OECD countries when measured against GDP, with Finland and Norway at the top.

The way forward

The Nordics have a long way ahead to reach sustainable consumption and production. The Nordic Council of Ministers is accepting this challenge, by with the Generation 2030 programme putting specific focus on achieving sustainable consumption and production.

However, acknowledging the challenges with reaching a sustainable consumption and production is not enough, but increased action is needed. In the report, 14 recommendations on moving forward with SCP are presented to the NCM and the Nordic countries.

Read the report: Sustainable Consumption and Production  – An Analysis of Nordic Progress towards SDG12, and the way ahead

Photo: Foto: Robert Bednarczyk/