Let us talk about sustainable development

Sep 29, 2019 | Green Investment Hub

Professor Frederik NG Andersson of Lund University and member of STRING’s expert panel does not like the term “green growth”. However, this was, in fact, the topic of the STRING seminar entitled “Green Growth – Initiatives and Projects for Sustainable Growth in the STRING Region” at this year’s Fehmarnbelt Days in Malmö.

“I do not believe in a greener society through growth.” Clearly, Professor Frederik NG Andersson’s premise was very clear when he opened the discussion on the possibilities for the creation of a green STRING corridor. According to the professor, to create a greener development in the corridor, you have to change the direction towards a shift – while putting traditional economic concepts on the shelf.

Green does not only mean to avoid environmental impact, but also to strengthen the environment. It follows that in Frederik NG Andersson’s view, growth means only economic growth and increased economic and social welfare.

You cannot do both at the same time, Andersson said. His suggestion: If you want a green shift, you must set new priorities, connect new players to the green shift agenda and think across sectors and traditional boundaries.


Relationship to STRING Strategy 2040

Professor Jörg Knieling, Head of Urban Planning and Regional Development at the HafenCity University in Hamburg, spoke of the concept of green growth in relation to STRING’s 2040 strategy and attempted to establish a link with the political goal of sustainable growth.


For Knieling, traditional growth initially builds on efficiency. If sustainable growth is the aim, you have to do more: less resource consumption, modes of local and regional self-sufficient economy (especially agriculture), but also new social thinking and bottom-up initiatives as ‘pioneers’ and ‘mastermind’.

According to Knieling, sustainability in regional development is a Game Changer. The challenge: Nobody knows what development will bring about in 30 or 50 years. Therefore, it is important today to be interested in niche innovations – and to achieve sustainability through the introduction of a circular economy and Value Change Management. The vision, says Knieling, is a circular and regenerative development – and not just in the STRING corridor.

But does the STRING corridor have a chance – and the will – to open up to these thoughts? The challenge is, Knieling and Andersson agree, to move STRING to where new thoughts arise – and to get the organization to accept the authors of these new thoughts as partners.


Green projects as cases

Niels Hoe, co-founder of the consulting firm HOE360 Consulting in Copenhagen, spoke afterwards on the process that made Copenhagen the leading cycling city in Europe. And how the bicycle has become a main part of the city’s concept of public transport.


Claes Kanold, Mobility Services, Ruters A/S, Norway, spoke of his traffic company’s efforts towards children and their parents to make collective transport “on demand” palatable, especially when it comes to transporting children from school to their spare time activities. This resulted in a noticeable decline in the use of private cars.

Tobias Åbonde, deputy director of BRING Express in Sweden, spoke of the “Beloved City” project in Stockholm, where a centralized packet distribution with smaller electric lorries simultaneously provides for waste disposal – thus relieving air pollution in the inner city.

Thomas Jacobs from Hamburg State Chancellery talked of a number of international EU-supported projects that tested circular economics in a number of areas at a local level, also in a number of other European cities.


Lessons learned?

In the subsequent panel discussion, Jörg Knieling discussed with Region Skåne Vice Chairman Mätta Ivarsson, Henrik Gudmundsson, Senior Consultant at CONCITO in Denmark and Nina Vogel, Program Coordinator at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU Urban Futures, the lessons learned lessons of the event. What can and must be done to bring the STRING region forward in a sustainable way?

The list on the board was long. One of the most important points: Participate in the development. And pursue co-co-co cooperation.

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