Sustainable development in the Nordic Region

Fyrtårn på Island
Photographer
Yadid Levy / Norden.org
The Nordic countries agree that the whole Region has to work together towards sustainable development. Globalisation, the emergence of the information society, ageing populations and untenable levels of consumption and production – as well as the resultant climate change – present both challenges and opportunities for the Nordic countries. To meet these challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities requires joint Nordic cross-sectoral initiatives which integrate the principle of sustainable development. In the period 2017–2020, the Nordic Council of Ministers will work hard on the “Generation 2030” programme to implement Agenda 2030 in the Region.

The Nordic countries agree that the whole Region has to work together towards sustainable development. Achieving sustainable development is an ambitious but necessary goal. There is no other alternative: we must improve global welfare and quality of life while conserving the capacity of the earth to support life in all its diversity.

A Good Life in a Sustainable Nordic Region

Present and future generations are entitled to a safe, healthy and dignified life. To a large extent the Nordic countries have been successful in combining high environmental ambitions, high-income, economic growth, a stable macro economy and social well-being. But this is not enough, we must intensify our efforts and become better at thinking sustainably both in political decision-making processes and in everyday life.

The Nordic Council of Ministers has worked with sustainable development since the end of the 1990s. The Nordic strategy for sustainable development, A Good Life in a Sustainable Nordic Region, is the overall framework for the Council of Ministers' work. All work carried out within the Council of Ministers will incorporate a sustainability perspective.

The strategy provides long-term guidelines as far as 2025 and aims to promote the cross-sectoral work of the Nordic Council of Ministers in the following focus areas: the Nordic welfare model, robust ecosystems, climate change, sustainable use of the earth's resources, as well as education, research and innovation.

Generation 2030

The Generation 2030 programme stresses the importance of involving children and young people as actors for change, now and in the future. It addresses the challenges that face the whole of the Nordic Region in its endeavours to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and places particular emphasis until 2020 on sustainable consumption and production.

The three main objectives are:

  • guaranteeing that the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers helps implement Agenda 2030 via politically focused and relevant projects
  • encouraging commitment and knowledge sharing on Agenda 2030 in the Nordic Region
  • drawing attention to the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers on Agenda 2030 in the Nordic Region and at international level.

Main Nordic players

The Ministers for Co-operation have the overall responsibility for Nordic inter-governmental work on sustainable development. They have set up a Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development to assist in the follow-up work on the Nordic Council of Ministers’ sustainability strategy 'A Good Life in a Sustainable Nordic Region' and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ work to implement Agenda 2030.

The Nordic Expert Group for Sustainable Development also acts as a steering group for 'Generation 2030', the Nordic programme for the period 2017–2020 for the implementation of Agenda 2030. The work as a steering group involves making recommendations on the development and implementation of the programme to the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation and the Nordic Committee for Co-operation.

The implementation of the Nordic sustainability strategy is the responsibility of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ various sectors. Its goals must be integrated into all sector programmes and turned into tangible solutions with measurable goals.

As far as inter-parliamentary work is concerned, the Nordic Council Environment and Natural Resources Committee is responsible for co-ordinating work on sustainable development.