With just 10 years left to achieve the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals are once again in the spotlight. But this time, there is a sense of urgency.
Amid growing threats from climate change and the frantic search for sustainable answers to an array of related global problems, heads of government, CEOs and civil society actors are once again descending on the United Nations in New York for the Climate Summit — a one-event international forum aimed at uniting the world around climate action.
Against that backdrop, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in, together with co-hosts Denmark In New York, UN Global Compact, Women Deliver, SAP NextGen, P4G, and the Confederation of Danish Industries, have convened Winning Together: Sustainability in Action — an event that sounds the alarm for climate action and calls for a globally shared responsibility to push the world closer to a carbon-neutral future.
Denmark In New York spoke with Consul General, Ambassador Anne Dorte Riggelsen ahead of the event to dive into the details of the global climate crisis and how Denmark and its partners are doing their part to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.
Denmark In New York: According to the latest SDG report, Denmark has taken the world lead on the SDGs. Why do you think Denmark is so far ahead when it comes to sustainability and climate change solutions?
Anne Dorte Riggelsen: Denmark is a small country with limited natural resources, we have therefore a long tradition of developed sustainable and effective solutions that protect our scarce resources. When we faced the obstacle of having most of our energy consumption based on imported fossil fuel, we saw an opportunity for more independent and sustainable energy sources. We harnessed the wind, our primary “natural” resource, by building wind turbines and innovated energy efficiency into our buildings and water systems. These solutions enabled us to gain more energy independency, create job opportunities, and build a more sustainable community.
When we look at Denmark in the international community, we can paint the same picture. We have numerous useful energy technologies for decarbonizing our energy sources and making them renewable, we also have a catalogue of solutions for creating energy efficiency in our infrastructure, from buildings to water pipes. We encourage our companies to internationalize, find new business models that enable new markets to get access to these solutions so that our energy technologies can not only benefit the people of Denmark but to everyone around the world. Denmark might be a small country. But, more than that, it is a big idea about sharing a sustainable future for all.
Why is sustainability such a priority for Denmark and for Danish companies?
Anne Dorte Riggelsen: On the one hand, Denmark has historically placed sustainability high on the regulatory agenda with rigorous legislation that is, in many areas, more ambitious than the international requirements. On the other hand, Danish companies thrive in a pro-business environment with access to experts, infrastructure and capital enabling innovation. This mix has provided a large number of sustainable products and services that are both commercially viable and of high regulatory standards. Denmark has also had a long history of collaboration between the employers and the employees, which has fostered a balanced approach between growth and social interests.
Danish companies have therefore been working with sustainable solutions even before the creation of SDGs. In the last four years, an increasing number of Danish companies have started working strategically with the SDGs. Today, Denmark is probably the country where the SDGs are most integrated into the business agenda. There is still work to do and we need to continue setting ambitious targets, but I think Danes can be proud of the work that has been achieved so far. Danish multinational companies work ambitiously with this agenda, setting targets that will require innovative solutions and engaging at the highest possible level in organizations such as the UN Global Compact. But also Small and Medium size companies (SMEs) have taken the agenda into their own hands, joining programmes such as UNDP’s SDG Accelerator. Denmark is a small open economy, and we have a long catalogue of sustainable solutions. The SDGs therefore present a clear political and business case for our companies.
What are some areas in the SDGs where Denmark exhibits an undisputed primacy?
Anne Dorte Riggelsen: Denmark has a large variety of SDG solutions, but the main strongholds are within Energy (wind and energy efficiency), Life Science (non-communicable diseases), Food and agriculture (food waste and efficiency) and Urban solutions (water and green build).
How does the Winning Together: Sustainability in Action event highlight Danish excellence in sustainability?
Anne Dorte Riggelsen: The event will bring together heads of government, international organizations such as the UN Global Compact and P4G, civil society such as Women Deliver, and the business community with SAP and the Confederation of Danish Industry. It will truly reflect the multi-stakeholder character of the SDGs and the importance of partnerships in reaching the Goals. It will also highlight how Denmark works with sustainability, supporting the central role of international organizations and NGOs, encouraging cooperation between borders and incentivising sustainable growth through sustainable businesses.
At the event, some of our leading companies will unveil their innovative products and services. We will present Ørsted’s off-shore wind parks, innovative solutions for reducing waste and reducing C02 emissions from Novo Nordisk and Carlsberg. We will also have life science solutions from LEO Pharma, as well as energy efficiency solutions from Rockwool. The event will also host art installations from ART 2030 and the SDG Action Campaign. But most importantly the event will be a global event.
And how does Denmark leverage its partnerships to ensure the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?
Anne Dorte Riggelsen: Denmark leverages its partnerships by bringing people together and letting the most knowledgeable partners take the lead in their areas of expertise. That is what we want to do at the event: bring together high-level decision makers, those with the power to shape policy, those that have the sustainability and sustainable development expertise, those with the innovative ideas and capital — so that they can strengthen their networks and generate new partnerships. This is why we call it Winning Together: Sustainability in Action.
Tune in to the Winning Together: Sustainability in Action Facebook Live on September 23rd at 7 PM for conversations on how we can win the sustainability agenda together. Tune in here.