In 2017 over 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas, this figure is expected to rise to at least 66% by 2050.
With this startling fact in mind, it has become increasingly important for cities to consider their environment, to protect human health, improve sustainability and not damage their local ecosystems.
Each year Yale’s environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks the countries that are leading the way in environmental performance – the latest study released puts Scandinavian countries in four of the top five performers.
Likewise the study released by Siemens in December 2016 at the UN Climate Change Conference reported that the top countries in the world for their green approach were the Scandinavian countries. This report also placed Copenhagen as the Greenest City.
In addition the largest Scandinavian Cities are signatures to the Green Digital Charter which creates a framework for cities to use ICT as a way to improve energy efficiency .
As many Scandinavian countries top the list of the Greenest Cities we thought it was worth taking a closer look at what some of their cities are doing to be so smart and green.
This city is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, with a population of almost two million people it is by far the largest urban area in Denmark.
One of its main environmental policy goals is to make the city carbon-neutral by 2025, in order to reach this it has instituted its CPH 2025 Climate Plan.
The city has introduced environmentally friendly transport networks. It is a very bike friendly city and lot of effort has been made to encourage citizens to ride to work or school. Currently around 45% of the population do so which is a great starting point and something a lot of other cities could learn from.
A major program was introduced recently to clean and develop the old harbour area, it is now so clean that people swim in it – when it is not too cold of course!
In the past few years they have created the Copenhagen Solutions Lab which is a test bed for new technologies – in this area they pilot projects and if they are a success will roll them out across other areas of the city
Like Copenhagen Helsinki also encourages its citizens to use their bikes as much as possible, although in the cold winter months this is simply not so practical. In 1992 they adopted an aggressive sustainability action plan which has been very successful and the city now has around 40% of its land surface covered in greenery.
They have made sure that planning policy is very strict and that all new developments meet the guidelines for sustainability and long term efficiency. They also love their technology and in Smart Kalasatama they are developing some very innovative new approaches to building and maintaining of a whole new area of the city. This development is still under way, but it has the goal of using technology to save each citizen one hour a day.
They are so committed to smart development in Helsinki that they have set up a company (Forum Virium) that has the sole task to develop the city in a smart and sustainable way – a great model that others could follow!
The city of Oslo has developed a model green suburb known as Vulkan in an old industrial part of the city. It has innovative sustainable architecture with a focus on energy efficiency. Use is made of local 300 metre deep geothermal wells for heating and cooling. The office block Bellona House has been designed so that it uses only one third of the energy that is normally consumed by other office blocks.
Oslo is also committed to making the city carbon neutral by 2030.They produce biogas from organic waste and sewage. There are now more than 700 electric charging stations around the city and they are trying to promote the use to electric cars over traditional petrol and diesel.
Oslo also has a city bike system where bikes can be hired at one of a hundred points around the city although the bike culture is not as strong as it is in Copenhagen.