Green growth is a common Nordic opportunity

Secretary General Dagfinn Høybråten at the Nordic Council of Ministers

The Nordic Prime Ministers met in May to discuss amongst other things future priorities for Nordic cooperation. I presented the Prime Ministers with a status report on their own green growth initiative, which is one of the main tasks for the Nordic Council of Ministers in the coming years. And the task is urgent.

According to the organization Cleantech Scandinavia, private investment in cleantech companies and the like has gone down by 30% in the last two years.

This is obviously a problem for the environment. If we do not invest in innovation we will not find more sustainable ways to manufacture, distribute and consume the goods we depend on. But it is also a problem for the Nordic countries, as the cleantech sector is a Nordic specialty in the global competition for new business opportunities.

Nordic synergies

The aim of the Nordic green growth initiative is to create Nordic synergies, just as is the case with any other common Nordic project – a lot of tasks are better solved together than individually, that is the simple raison d’etre for the entire Nordic cooperation.
But with the Prime Ministers green growth initiative we try to take this simple fact a step further. We aim at a more focused and yet more holistic approach, uniting a cross sectorial approach with a pin pointed project portfolio.

There are ten projects in the initiative, involving most of the sectors represented in the ministerial councils under the Nordic Council of Ministers. They range from projects dealing with harmonization of the electricity market or streamlining of building standards, to projects focused on bio-economy or green public procurement.

The overall aim is twofold. On the one hand we continue the hallowed Nordic tradition of learning from each other and pulling each other forward by sharing know how and best practice – the kind of soft governance that I think we can safely credit the Nordic Council of Ministers for pioneering. On the other hand in some cases we try to establish the basis for a bigger market, a market where Nordic companies can experiment and expand, in order to better be able to tackle the European or even the global market.

The new super model

Over the last decade, the increased involvement of the Prime Ministers has strengthened and sharpened Nordic cooperation. First, through a joint effort at tackling globalization together on a number of designated areas in the so called globalization initiative, that led to among other things the Nordic top-level research initiative. And now, through the Prime Ministers’ green growth initiative.

And according to leading international media like the Economist, the Nordic model is indeed the next supermodel. We need to grab this opportunity and help each other explore what it is we do best in the Nordic region and why we do certain things better than others. This requires political will, but it also requires a lot of practical work, the kind of work taking place in the ten projects under our green growth initiative.

We need to explore what green growth “the Nordic Way” entails. And we need to keep learning from each other and pooling our resources in an increasingly competitive market place that calls for common solutions to shared challenges. Green growth is a common Nordic opportunity and I look forward to contributing to the work we have ahead to seize it.

This column was written by Secretary General Dagfinn Høybråten at the Nordic Council of Ministers

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