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Release peace: the magazine

Release peace: the magazine

Analysis & Background Stories on International Affairs

The Incredible Bottom-up Efforts to Achieve the SDGs

Article by: Naima El Hawary

The SDGs

A global effort to create a more equal and sustainable world, a world where poverty is eradicated, the planet is thriving, and peace prevails; this was the ambitious vision behind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations. The 17 goals span social aspects, ecology, good governance, and the economy. While the SDGs are not legally binding, they help set priorities for national policy across the world. Denmark, Sweden and Finland are consistently ranked as some of the best performers for a wide range of these sustainability goals. Due to their strong social welfare states, investment in green innovation and traditions of environmental awareness, sustainability in a comprehensive sense of the word is high on the priority list for these Nordic countries. 

The Case of Denmark

For a number of SDGs, Denmark is one of the best performers.  For example, Goal 8 aims to transition to a green economy and Goal 7 focuses on the sustainable use of natural resources and energy efficiency. Ranked first in the Environmental Performance Index, about two-thirds of Danish electricity comes from clean sources, and the capital Copenhagen aspires to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Denmark also has a national action plan to achieve the SDGs, which comprises adopting the SDGs as national policy, monitoring and reporting the progress made in Denmark, as well as ambitious goals for climate action. The Danish government has also started a number of partnerships with stakeholders. In this article, we will explore some ground-breaking, local initiatives which are designed to achieve the SDGs in Denmark.

Bottom-up Initiative 1: The FUSILLI Project

The Danish municipality of Kolding is an example for local initiatives seeking to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This small municipality of 57,000 people can be considered a pioneer in the realm of sustainability, having developed sustainable ideas in the 1970s and possessing a wide range of initiatives. One of these is the FUSILLI Project: ‘Fostering the Urban food System Transformation through Innovative Living Labs Implementation.’ This project is being implemented in a number of cities such as Rome, Athens, Oslo and Kolding and its goal is to transition to sustainable food systems. In Kolding for example, the food system is being transformed, food waste is reduced, and a food council and commission were created. As part of this project, the house of sustainability was opened in Kolding, which is open to the public to hear about different initiatives or propose ideas.

Bottom-up Initiative 2: Annual SDG Day

On May 19th of every year, the annual sustainability day is taking place in Kolding at the same time as the traditional May market. Here, you can shop for the region’s most sustainable products and learn about local technologies and solutions. In 2022, more than 65 different initiatives took part during this festive day and for the first time, it took place all over the city. In combination with this event, there is an annual sustainability academy taking place in Kolding in June 2023, which is also a collaboration with the SDG Hub. The SDG Hub is a global network for innovation and impact which was launched by the WWF in collaboration with HSBC and aims to fund local initiatives and connect them to global advocacy. Applications are now open for students interested in the 2023 session where you can hear from researchers and gain knowledge through these workshops.

Bottom-up Initiative 3: The Taste of Lillebælt – ‘Smag på Lillebælt‘

The nature park Lillebælt in the Kolding commune, Denmark’s biggest nature park, has developed a certification for locally produced climate-friendly food. One example of the criteria for the certification is that vegetables must be produced or harvested in the park, while animal products must be raised in the nature park. Purchasing these products supports the local community, and an added bonus is that they also taste incredibly fresh. Specifically, this initiative prioritises Goal 12 (sustainable production and consumption), Goal 13 (climate action), Goal 14 (life below water) and Goal 15 (life on land). One of these certified products is a locally produced honey, Svinø honey, made by two friends Viggo and Niels who use biological methods instead of pesticides. If you want to see one of these  local initiatives for yourself, you can visit Povl and his wife in Blanke Mark, in the nature park Lillebælt whose delicious locally grown produce is certified with the Lillebælt certification. Furthermore, you can pick berries and mushrooms on special routes throughout the beautiful nature park.

The Climate People’s Meeting in Middelfart

Another progressive sustainability-related initiative is the climate summit in Middelfart which takes place at the end of the summer. With 21,000 participants last year, the Klimafolkemøde is an incredibly popular event. Participants from all over Denmark and far beyond meet to exchange ideas on the future of sustainability and climate action. 4,000 young people trained in constructive debate will attend, and this was fully funded by the Tuborg foundation. Whether you want to have your own stand, volunteer as a Team Leader or attend as a visitor, there are many opportunities to get involved.

Towards 2030

Denmark is on a great path of change towards a more sustainable and equitable future. The country is making significant progress in the SDGs. Namely, through prioritising the aforementioned Goal 7 and 8, as well as through Goal 13’s aim to minimize GHG emissions and Goal 3’s plan to limit the spread of agents harmful to human health. In addition to these national policy changes, there is an incredible number of local initiatives supporting the Agenda 2030 to make the world a more sustainable place. The local and valuable initiatives discussed in this article underline the significant efforts of the Kolding commune to make the SDGs a reality.

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