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The City Booklet

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Lviv started the process of conducting its first Voluntary Local Review in 2021, and planned to submit it in March 2022. However, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this process has been delayed. Despite the war, the process of finalizing Lviv’s first VLR continues. 

The City of Lviv identified that a first challenge in the process of conducting a VLR was how to raise awareness about sustainable development within the city administration. Based on discussions with other cities, where methods and ideas were exchanged for how to bring the SDGs closer to the city administration, the City of Lviv developed a City Booklet to respond to this challenge. 

In a second step, the City of Lviv developed a roadmap for how to conduct the VLR.  To bring the SDGs closer to the city administration, they decided to translate the SDGs and categorize them into different topics to make them relevant to the local context. Thereafter, the City of Lviv conducted interviews with city officials to investigate how the different departments’ work responded to the SDGs. The City of Lviv collected information on the departments’ strategies, goals and principles. These were then compiled and presented in a table where the strategies were connected to different SDGs to evaluate which goals they deliver on as well as where they need to improve. 

The City Booklet
The lack of knowledge about the SDGs in general and the VLR in particular within city departments made the City of Lviv develop a booklet to bring the 2030 Agenda closer to the city administration. The booklet explains all the 17 SDGs and the 169 targets, and presents examples of how localized goals have been incorporated into VLRs as well as good practices from VLR processes. 

The City Booklet was spread to all city departments. It was followed up with interviews with 30 city officials, where they were asked about each SDG and what their department is doing in terms of achieving that specific goal. This proved to be a good way to acknowledge in what ways the different departments were already contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. It also acted as an educational tool for the officials, because they were equipped with more knowledge about the SDGs. 

Using the City Booklet as a tool to facilitate the dialogue about sustainable development within the city administration, and illustrating how the different departments are working with the 2030 Agenda, the colleagues within the city administration could better understand how their work is interconnected and how they are all working to achieve the global goals.

Photo: Nico Benedickt/Unsplash


Effective VLR process

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Uppsala submitted its first Voluntary Local Review in 2021. The purpose of the review was to illustrate in what ways the 2030 Agenda had been incorporated into the city governance. In the VLR, Uppsala demonstrated how they had incorporated the 2030 Agenda in the city’s work since they took on a new city strategy in 2016. The VLR focused on the organizational structure and the internal steering towards the Global Goals.

The City of Uppsala structured its VLR based on nine internal goals that are all meant to support the implementation of the SDGs. In the review, each goal is explained and defines what SDGs it is related to. This is followed by a description of what the City of Uppsala could do in order to accelerate the achievement of that city target – and by that also the related SDGs. Uppsala described what is specifically relevant to them in each goal, and also highlighted some of the SDG targets and explained in what way(s) Uppsala’s work supports the achievement of that target. Each chapter ends with a description of lessons learned and ways forward in their sustainability work. Throughout the review, city areas are compared in order to identify differences in progress. This was done as a way to identify how the city is working to incorporate the principle of Leave No One Behind. 

With the VLR, Uppsala wanted to share the stories that the politicians found especially relevant within each goal. They identified that qualitative examples were equally important as quantitative data – it was a way to show the city organization that they do work to achieve the SDGs even though they don’t always define their work as “sustainability work”.

Effective VLR process
Submitting a VLR can be a time consuming process – but the City of Uppsala conducted a comprehensive and detailed VLR within three months. The decision to conduct a VLR was made in December 2020 with the deadline in March the year after. The short timeframe affected the structure of the VLR process as a whole, as well as the review itself. In order to successfully conduct a VLR despite the approaching deadline, Uppsala analyzed already existing data. They did not make it into a participatory process, but rather saw the review as a tool for the internal management of the city: it was a way to identify what had been successful and what had been less successful in their work, and thereby create a foundation for learning.

Further reading:

Uppsala and Agenda 2030 – Voluntary Local Review 2021


Photo: Shubhesh Aggarwal/Unsplash

Structure of a Voluntary Local Review

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Malmö conducted its first Voluntary Local Review in 2021. The review focuses on how the city’s steering and management system connects to the SDGs. The review comprises an evaluation and analysis of a selection of the city’s steering documents, as well as an analysis of how the principle of Leave No One Behind is incorporated through development programs for the city. In addition to evaluating the city’s progress through steering documents, a survey was disseminated to the city administration and Malmö owned corporations. The city organization arranged several workshops to discuss the results.

The review had three purposes: the first one was to identify how the city’s strategy relates to the SDGs; the second one concerned how the principle of Leave No One Behind was made visible in the city’s work for equal rights and opportunities; and the third one was to report on the progress towards the SDGs on the local level. The goal was to identify how the existing city strategies, programmes, goals and other processes steer towards the SDGs. In accordance with recommendations in guidelines, the City of Malmö analyzed the same nine goals that were highlighted at the 2021 High Level Political Forum. These goals were also especially suitable for Malmö’s local context: a majority of them concerned the social dimension of sustainability, and based on earlier evaluations of the city’s sustainable development, Malmö has identified social sustainability as an especially pressing challenge for the city.

The analysis of how the City of Malmö is working with the SDGs is based on nationally identified indicators. It has also been complemented with data taken from city departments as well as regional and national authorities.

The Voluntary Local Review is voluntary in every sense of the word: it is voluntary in its implementation as well as its content and structure. The fact that the target groups for the VLR were city officials and of Malmö owned companies had an effect on the structure and content of the review. Since they focused on the internal steering and reported on how it connected to the SDGs, the target groups for participation in the process of developing the VLR, as well as who it was designed for, were employees within the city organization. The reason why the report targeted the city officials was because Malmö had experienced that their SDG work had lost some of its power – and they therefore identified the VLR as a tool to fuel their sustainability work. It gave them the opportunity to reflect over earlier efforts and their effectiveness, as well as develop a common guidance on how they would continue working with the SDGs.

Malmö demonstrates the importance of constructing a VLR that is suited to the city’s own context. The goals that are analyzed are within an area that the city experiences especially challenging, which is also why there is a need to examine what has been effective and not in order to identify how to proceed. Therefore, the VLR does not have to include all 17 SDGs and the sub-objectives in order to be successful. Rather, a successful VLR is one that supports the city in its continued work with the SDGs – which Malmö identified in their own VLR process.

Further reading:

Voluntary Local Review – City of Malmö 2021 – A review of the city’s steering towards the Sustainable Development Goals


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Translating the indicators

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Stuttgart submitted their first Voluntary Local Review in 2020. The review was based on the Association of German Cities and Towns’ model resolution 2030 Agenda, which Stuttgart joined in 2018 as a step towards starting to work actively to implement the SDGs in the city. Stuttgart’s VLR was developed in collaboration with the Bertelsmann Foundation and the German Institute of Urban Studies. 

The VLR was developed in a participatory manner: different departments of the city organization were invited to take part in the process. The review contains a description of the Association of German Cities and Towns’ project. This is followed by a presentation of the indicators, a description of how the City of Stuttgart decided on what indicators to include, as well as recommendations on how to develop indicators. With their first VLR, Stuttgart aimed to describe the city’s progress in social, ecological and economic sustainability – and by that also identify what areas were in need of further support. They also wanted to contribute with methods on how to develop indicators that are suitable – and valuable – in a local setting. The VLR contains an analysis of the sustainable development over time, and connects the SDGs to the City of Stuttgart through both quantitative data and qualitative best-practice examples. 

The City of Stuttgart published their second Voluntary Local Review in English in May 2022.

Translating the indicators
In 2017, seven German organizations initiated the project SDG Indicators for Municipalities. The project aimed to facilitate the quantitative monitoring of the SDGs at the local level by identifying how the goals could be interpreted in a German local setting. The City of Stuttgart, as one of the first in Germany, joined the project in 2018 and began pilot-testing the indicators that had been identified in the project the same year. 

When testing the indicators, cross-departmental discussions about the SDG indicators were held within the city organization, in order to expand the general indicator set to incorporate new ones that were relevant for Stuttgart’s specific context – as well as to modify some of the already identified indicators. When deciding which indicators to incorporate, they took into account the relevance for Stuttgart, the coverage and explanatory value, and available data. It was also important that the indicator set was not too large and in that way not manageable – and they therefore chose indicators that covered several of the SDGs.

Based on the SDG indicators that were chosen within the framework of the project, Stuttgart developed a cross-sectoral instrument for a structured monitoring of the connections between the social, ecological and economic sustainability. This will serve as a tool to support the further implementation of the SDGs in Stuttgart.

Further reading:

Stuttgart – a Livable City. The global Agenda 2030 at a local level

Stuttgart – a Livable City. The global 2030 Agenda at a local level. 2nd Voluntary Local Review


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Participatory processes in localizing the SDGs

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Mannheim published its first Voluntary Local Review in 2019. It is based on the city strategy, Mannheim 2030 Mission Statement. In the Mission Statement, the SDGs have been localized into seven overarching strategic goals that relate to the global goals. The structure of the VLR is based on those strategic goals, and describes which SDGs the strategic goal relates to. For each strategic goal, the VLR presents guidance for how Mannheim has worked – and will continue working – to achieve the goals. Key milestones for the strategic goals as well as specifically important aspects of that goal are also highlighted. 

With its VLR, Mannheim wishes to demonstrate how a city can incorporate the SDGs in their daily work as well as work inclusively with the 2030 Agenda framework. The citizens were able to meet with sustainability experts and city employees in order to take part in the debates on the SDGs in general and the development of the VLR in particular.

The City of Mannheim is in the process of conducting their second VLR, which will be submitted in the summer of 2022.

Participatory processes in localizing the SDGs
As a way to include all parts of society in the process of localizing the SDGs, the City of Mannheim developed its strategy, the Mannheim 2030 Mission Statement, together with the civil society in a broad participation process. The participatory process spanned from 2017 until 2019 and resulted in 1500 proposals for the new Mission Statement. The proposals that were submitted were based on the question: “Taking into account the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, what do we want life in our city to be like in 2030?”.

More than 2500 citizens participated actively when developing the Mission Statement. The City of Mannheim organized a so-called Urban Thinkers Campus, where 500 residents, together with international experts, discussed how the SDGs could be implemented and incorporated in the city. They facilitated workshops where citizens of Mannheim had the opportunity to discuss the SDGs and what was important to them with the mayor. An additional 10 000 citizens were involved through opinion polls and bigger events. The City of Mannheim disseminated surveys in order to collect ideas on how to implement the SDGs in the city. They used mass events like the May Fair as a way to reach the people: they requested input from the citizens on the SDGs. Furthermore, Mannheim engaged the community by putting out a photo box where they could get photographed with different SDGs and publish it on social media. With these events, Mannheim were able to communicate the SDGs to a wider audience.

Further reading:

The Implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in Mannheim 2030

Mission Statement Mannheim 2030


Photo: Recorder Ma/Unsplash

Involving the citizens

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Bonn published its first Voluntary Local Review in 2020. Its structure is based on Bonn’s municipal Sustainability Strategy and focuses on six fields of action: Mobility, Climate and Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment, Labor and Business, Social Participation and Gender, and Global Responsibility and One World. Within the fields of action, several indicators have been identified and illustrate the development in those areas.

Bonn identifies the VLR as an important tool to spread information and education on the 2030 Agenda framework as a whole. The purpose of the VLR is to make the SDGs more accessible, and encourage a discussion about them between different societal stakeholders. Such a review can highlight and demonstrate the connections between the individual activities and projects that are organized by the city and the SDGs. Bonn’s VLR is meant to be read by local and national citizens as well as the international community.

The City of Bonn is in the process of conducting their second VLR, which will be published in June 2022.  

Involving the citizens
The City of Bonn has identified how the VLR can act as a tool to engage a dialogue with the citizens. The VLR presents a description of how the city is working with the SDGs by connecting them with the city’s fields of action. In that way, the VLR provides the residents of Bonn with necessary information and invites them to a substantiated discussion of the SDGs. However, the lack of knowledge about the SDGs makes it difficult for citizens to participate in their own cities’ localization of the global goals. The City of Bonn has tried to counteract this lack of awareness and knowledge by organizing events that puts the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development at the center of the discussion. Once a year, Bonn has the so-called SDG Days, during which they organize events that relate to the SDGs. The events bring the goals closer to the people by making them more comprehensible. The purpose is not so much to make the citizens understand the 2030 Agenda in general, but rather the idea behind it. 

The SDG Days is a way to achieve the city’s goal of spreading awareness regarding sustainability issues. During these days, parts of the city are decorated with bright colors in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda visual. Since the start of the programme in 2018, the events have always included a SDG wheel, on which the 17 goals are illustrated and explained; and the citizens have had the opportunity to engage in discussions about how the SDGs impact their daily lives, and to calculate their individual CO2 footprint. The events that are organized by the city are accompanied by other organization’s initiatives that also relate to the sustainability framework, and shops on the main street participate by decorating their windows and arrange events. 

Further reading:

Voluntary Local Review – Agenda 2030 on the local level. Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Bonn


Photo: Tim Rußmann/Unsplash

A tool to fuel

Voluntary Local Review
The Municipality of Gladsaxe submitted its first Voluntary Local Review in 2021. The purpose of their VLR was to describe their main approach to the SDGs and present examples of how they have worked towards achieving the global goals within the city administration. Gladsaxe conducts a review of the municipality’s goals and targets every year. The VLR acted as a summary of important aspects and conclusions – with both quantitative and qualitative examples – from the two most recent municipal reviews.

The VLR is structured so that the first part covers the municipality’s strategic approach to the SDGs and the progress within sustainable development in Gladsaxe. In the subsequent part, guidance on their continued work with the 2030 Agenda framework is presented. Lastly, the municipal strategy is incorporated as well as the municipal goals and targets. 

The Municipality of Gladsaxe is now in the process of conducting their second VLR and are planning to submit it in the summer of 2022. 

A tool to fuel
The municipality of Gladsaxe has used the 2030 Agenda framework as a way to fuel their city’s sustainability work: by incorporating the SDGs into the city strategy and other steering documents, Gladsaxe has noticed that it raises the bar in their work towards achieving sustainable development.  

The SDGs and the strategy have provided a shared frame of reference for initiatives and actions in practice within the city organization, as well as a platform for ideas and initiatives in the local environment through partnerships and action at all levels. The cases and the development in Gladsaxe more generally shows a strategy growing within the organization and beyond as the mutual ambition of the city council and across the organization. Both political and administrative leaders highlight the importance of working together to achieve sustainable development.Gladsaxe has identified how the SDGs constitute a source of inspiration to leaders as well as employees in Gladsaxe: they get new ideas on activities and projects – and they offer incentives to work together with other local actors in a bottom-up approach. 

Because of the fact that the SDGs offer new ideas on how to work with sustainable development in a systematic way, the Municipality of Gladsaxe is ready to incorporate more of the goals in the city strategy. The VLR presents opportunities to evaluate these ideas and activities and Gladsaxe aims to make it into a part of their follow-up for the city.

Further reading:

The 2030 Agenda on the Local Level: a Voluntary Local Review from Gladsaxe, Denmark


Photo: Febiyan/Unsplash

Raise the awareness of sustainability issues

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Tampere will submit their first Voluntary Local Review in the summer of 2022. While in the process of conducting it, they have had close cooperation with the six largest cities in Finland, including the four that have published a VLR.

Tampere’s first VLR is aimed for the internal organization: the purpose is to make the SDGs more accessible to the city employees and identify what the most important perspectives are for the City of Tampere. They are analyzing the city’s main steering documents and the city strategy, and connect them to the SDGs by using the same key indicators as in the strategy.

The purpose with the VLR is to serve as a guidebook for further discussion on the 2030 Agenda framework and the SDGs locally and internally. 

Raise the awareness of sustainability issues
Tampere’s development programme for 2017-2021, Smart Tampere, highlighted and boosted smart and sustainable urban development in Tampere. The programme consisted of three parts: Digitalization programme, Ecosystem programme and Sustainable Tampere Programme. The Sustainable Tampere Programme focused on the city’s goal to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Within the programme, Tampere established initiatives and projects that in different ways approached sustainable development in a more accessible way and incorporated all of the city. One of these initiatives was the Climate Partnership, which had the purpose of involving companies, associations and communities in achieving carbon-neutrality. The societal stakeholders that took part in the initiative were tasked to identify their key emissions and thereafter develop a plan for how to reduce them. The partnership offered both visibility for the stakeholders’ climate work, as well as guidance in their continued work. 

The Sustainable Tampere Programme also brought sustainability closer to the citizens and raised awareness of climate issues, by – among other things – releasing Tampere’s own version of the mobile game My2050. The My2050 game approaches climate change in an informative yet entertaining way. It takes the player on an adventure within Tampere’s city walls: the player explores the city and can collect coins from solving tasks. The game is similar to geocaching and escape rooms, and presents facts of the current climate crisis and possible future scenarios. Beside Tampere, the mobile game has been released in Espoo, Helsinki, Vantaa and Turku.

In the new city strategy, City of Action, Tampere has reinforced its commitment to work towards a sustainable future by incorporating the SDGs. Through the strategy, the 2030 Agenda framework has been brought into light and will be guiding the continued work with sustainability issues in the city.

Photo: Juho Luomala/Unsplash


Collaboration between cities

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Turku conducted its first Voluntary Local Review in 2020. For the review, Turku chose to incorporate all 17 SDGs and the targets that were relevant for the local level. However, they focused on four goals: clean water and sanitation; reduced inequality; climate action; and partnerships for the goals. The goals were chosen based on the premise that Turku has great knowledge about and experience working with such issues as well as strong indicators for measuring them. 

In the VLR, Turku’s strategy document, Turku 2029 City Strategy, as well as city projects and activities that implemented the strategy are analyzed. The report also analyzed a few central activities that had been implemented in each of the five city departments and strategic units. The VLR was constructed together with officials and experts from different departments within the city organization: they were invited to participate in workshops and interviews, as well as answer survey questions on how they are working with the SDGs. 

Turku identified the VLR as an instrument to communicate the city’s sustainability work with the citizens. They also saw the review as a way to inspire Finnish cities as well as cities outside the country on how to work systematically with the SDGs, by presenting good examples from their own experiences. 

The City of Turku is in the process of developing their second VLR, which will be submitted in the summer of 2022.

Six City Strategy
The need for collaboration between cities in issues concerning sustainable development has made the City of Turku join national platforms for cooperation – one of them being the Six City Strategy. The network consists of the six largest cities in Finland: in addition to Turku, the members are Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa and Oulu. The Six City Strategy is a joint strategy for the cities, with the purpose of working together to overcome the challenges with sustainable development in urban settings. The cities cooperate on a strategic as well as operational level. 

Within the network, activities and projects are organized with the common goal of accelerating the achievement of the SDGs. The six cities share the objective of being carbon neutral. One of the many projects that has been organized to achieve this is the establishment of a national network for circular economy hubs.

Within the network, the cities have had the opportunity to share experiences on working with the SDGs and discuss how cities could and should work to achieve the goals. The network proved to be an important forum for the City of Turku, because it offered a way to discuss mutual goals and challenges with the 2030 Agenda framework.

Further reading:

A Voluntary Local Review 2020 – The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the City of Turku

Six City Strategy


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Strong indicators

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Helsinki has identified the Voluntary Local Review as an important step on the way to successfully implement the SDGs on the local level. Helsinki was the second city in the world to conduct a VLR: by the time they submitted their first VLR in 2019, only the City of New York had published one. The first VLR described the Helsinki City Strategy and how it connected to the SDGs, as well as how the city was working to promote and monitor the implementation of the global goals. The projects highlighted in the first VLR were chosen based on their importance for the realization of the City Strategy. Helsinki chose to focus on five of the SDGs in their VLR. The purpose of the review was to produce information about the city’s SDG work in an accessible way and act as a strategic tool for the city administration.

The City of Helsinki published its second Voluntary Local Review in 2021. In contrast to Helsinki’s first VLR, their second one was more comprehensive: it incorporated all SDGs and went beyond analyzing the strategy to instead cover the entire organization. The purpose of this review was to review progress through indicators as well as present qualitative descriptions of the city’s activities. A new city strategy was adopted after the second VLR had been published. In the strategy, Helsinki highlighted their work with evaluating the SDGs and confirmed their commitment to continue to monitor the development in the city.

In order to decide on what indicators to include in the VLR, the City of Helsinki established a working group with the purpose of creating an indicator set for the city’s monitoring. The working group consisted of officials from different departments of the city organization. They started with hundreds of indicators, and ended up choosing 50 of them – including a selection of key indicators that were based on the Helsinki City Strategy. Helsinki realized during the process of identifying indicators that it was important not to exclude too many: it may be easier to have a smaller indicator set – however, it does not do reality justice since it may result in that important aspects are excluded. 

The progress of the indicators are highlighted and discussed in the VLR. In addition to that, the indicators are also presented on an electronic dashboard on a website where anyone who would like can follow the sustainable development in Helsinki. The indicators are presented in three main categories based on what dimension of sustainable development they address: social, ecological or economic sustainability. The indicators are updated continuously.


Further reading:

Helsinki Voluntary Local Review: From Agenda to Action – The Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki 2019

From Agenda to Action 2021 – Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki

Are you interested in seeing how Helsinki is doing on the Sustainable Development Goals? Click here to follow the development within social sustainability, ecological sustainability and/or economic sustainability.


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Hållbar utveckling 2022 Initiative

Hållbar Utveckling is a platform offering education and knowledge exchange about sustainable development, particularly targeting SMEs, larger companies, and public institutions. It was founded in 2012 by CEO Helena Lindemark.

One notable initiative from Hållbar Utveckling is the 2022 InitiativeTM in which they invite organisations to participate in a planned 2022 manifestation of the 50-year anniversary of the first UN conference for sustainability, held in Stockholm in 1972. The 2022 Initiative aims to promote further matchmaking between users and problem-solving actors and networking between actors working for achieving the Agenda 2030 SDGs.

Further reading

Hållbar Utveckling


WWF is the world’s leading independent conservation organization active in nearly 100 countries on six continents. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by:

  • conserving the world’s biological diversity
  • ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
  • promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption

Due to our wide reaching geographic and thematic approach to conservation, WWFs work is anchored in all three pillars of the sustainable development triangle: environmental, social and economic, enabling us to contribute to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG 11 and 13: WWF is committed to increasing political leadership, public engagement and entrepreneurship to transform cities. Our aim is to support the creation and development of One Planet Cities around the globe – cities that enable all people to thrive and prosper while respecting the ecological limits of our one and only planet. 

WWF created the One Planet City Challenge  to highlight some of the world’s most ambitious and inspiring cities, and their innovative solutions to combating climate change and building resilience locally. Through this Challenge WWF aims to facilitate the sharing and replication of sustainable solutions in cities across the globe.

For more information about WWF, click here.

For more information about Global Utmaning’s Sweden Local2030 Hub, click here.

Photo: Chait Goli


About LightSwitch
LightSwitch are specialists in designing, leading and facilitating knowledge sharing and innovation processes to tackle complex sustainability challenges. They have developed a unique approach combining knowledge sharing and innovation to scale solutions to new contexts, which has been successfully applied both in the framework of global partnerships between countries on clean energy as well as in climate-related projects at municipal level in Sweden. SDG 17 and particularly target 17.6 ‘Knowledge sharing and cooperation for access to science, technology and innovation’, lies at the very heart of LightSwitch’s mission.

LightSwitch’s relation to localizing SDGs
LightSwitch is dedicated to catalysing planet-positive impact at all levels – from international policy development to concrete action at local level – through actionable knowledge sharing, co-creation and innovation. LightSwitch’s collaborative learning method is flexible and can be used to capitalise on existing knowledge and co-create new solutions suitable for implementation in virtually any context. It focuses on learning and capacity building for the participating individuals and organizations and takes into account key aspects related to leading change efforts for sustainability.

SDG 17.6 underpins LightSwitch’s efforts to deliver planet-positive impact. Since their knowledge sharing and innovation projects are primarily focused on accelerating the transition to a renewable energy system and other key areas of climate action their efforts also address the development of SDG 7.a ‘Promote access to research, technology in clean energy’ and 13.3 ‘Build knowledge and capacity to meet climate change’ on a local level. LightSwitch works extensively with municipalities on various sustainability-related themes and contributes therefore also to SDG 11 ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’.

Municipality ‘Climate Leadership Programme’ in Sweden
Engaged by Fossil Free Sweden, LightSwitch has designed, led and facilitated a deep-dive collaborative learning process between six Swedish municipalities (Helsingborg, Umeå, Uppsala, Växjö, Örebro and Östersund) especially selected as pioneers in regard to public procurement as an instrument for climate action. The process supported the municipalities to identify and share knowledge and experiences with each other on both challenges and successful procurement methods and approaches. The process initiated Fossil Free Sweden’s Climate Leadership Programme on public procurement, which aims to find ways to radically reduce Swedish municipalities’ climate emissions through new innovative ways of using the public procurement instrument.

One of the most important tools for Swedish municipalities to significantly reduce climate emissions is through their public procurement of goods and services. Fossil Free Sweden set up the Climate Leadership Program to support municipalities to set tougher climate requirements in public procurement and to work in tandem with the businesses and sectors who have committed to becoming fossil free in Fossil Free Sweden’s sector roadmaps.

LightSwitch designed and facilitated a deep-dive learning and co-creation process, based on logic of the LightSwitch method, consisting of four full-day workshops and three interlinked home assignments. The method includes both elements of knowledge sharing and co-creation of new ideas, and is designed to enable the participants to take concrete action in terms of implementation of learnings in their respective organizations.

At the conclusion of the collaborative learning project the participating municipalities had developed and received constructive feedback on draft action plans to develop methods and approaches to move towards fossil free public procurement. The action plans were based on the learnings and new ideas developed during the process and were all customised to the unique contexts of each participating municipality.

LightSwitch’s relation to SDG targets
LightSwitch’s work relates to SDG targets:

17.6 – Knowledge sharing and cooperation for access to science, technology and innovation

17.17 – Encourage effective partnerships: Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships

13.3 – Build knowledge and capacity to meet climate change

12.7 – Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities

11.6 – Reduce the environmental impacts of cities

For more information about Global Utmaning’s Sweden Local2030 Hub, click here.


About Nordregio
Nordregio is a leading Nordic research centre for sustainable regional development and planning, established by the Nordic Council of Ministers. They conduct applied research and Nordic-European knowledge exchange for policymakers and practitioners. Nordregio’s primary focus areas are: Sustainable rural development and aging population; Urban planning for green inclusive cities; Regional innovation, resilience and green transition; and Multi-level governance (regional reforms and strategies).

Webinar Series on Local SDG Implementation in the Nordics
In 2018/19, Nordregio published a report mapping Nordic frontrunners in SDG work at the local level and hosted a Nordic knowledge exchange on how to organize the Agenda 2030 work in regional and municipal authorities. As a follow-up, they just arranged a webinar series with six programmes on local implementation of certain SDGs (climate, digitalization/innovation, gender/inclusion, sustainable consumption and production, sustainable cities, plus monitoring and evaluation). Nordic municipalities and regions were invited to share and discuss good practice examples, solutions and remaining challenges in their work. The seminar series is available on Nordregio’s YouTube channel and was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

For more information about Nordregio, click here.

For more information about Global Utmaning’s Sweden Local2030 Hub, click here.

Green public procurement and taxation for circularity

For any country looking to develop efficient instruments to accelerate the transformation towards a more resource efficient, circular and sustainable community, environmentally informed taxation on resource heavy- and polluting industries, as well as green public procurement, are two core instruments.
Green Public Procurement (GPP) or green purchasing is a voluntary instrument in the EU toolbox but plays a key role in the EU’s efforts to become a more resource-efficient economy. The European Commission states: “Europe’s public authorities are major consumers. By using their purchasing power to choose environmentally friendly goods, services and works, they can make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production – what we call Green Public Procurement (GPP) or green purchasing”.
Latvia has implemented a Natural Resource Tax and guidelines and criteria for GPP. The country is by no means alone in using these instruments to enhance the country´s resource efficiency and promote circularity in procurement processes, but the country is a good example of how such policy regulations could look and be developed.

A major challenge to the development of legal guidelines for GPP is a perception among authorities that GPP is more expensive and complicated and introduction of “green” requirements and criteria will restrict the competition and could result in an appeal of the tender results. Also, the concept of “greening” of the procurement has to be made as early as possible in the procurement process, preferably at the project planning phase. This requires comprehensive cooperation between project developers and procurement specialists, which also has proven a challenge.

Good practices and solutions

Latvia has further strengthened one of the core economic instruments serving for environmental purposes – the Natural Resource Tax – by regularly reviewing both the tax rates and tax base in order to target the polluting activities and enhance resource efficiency. The review aims to provide financial incentives to improve waste management, reduce landfilling, enhance efficient use of resources and transition from natural resources to secondary materials34. The review of the tax also includes increased tax rates for waste disposals, with the aim of reducing waste volumes in landfills while stimulating waste management companies to switch to other more favourable waste treatment options, such as recycling or reuse. Together, these measures will help Latvia to transition towards a circular economy, where waste becomes a resource and returns back to the economy.

Latvia has also established the legal basis for Green Public Procurement with specific environmental criteria for public procurement of specific product groups including office paper, office IT equipment, office furniture, food and catering services, cleaning products and services, indoor lighting, traffic signals and several other voluntary product groups. To help develop guidelines for GPP, Latvia is also developing a “calculator” of life-cycle costs for energy consuming products groups.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The Natural Resource Tax and GPP facilitates and accelerates the transition to circular economy. These practices contribute to “doing more with less”, by increasing net welfare gains from economic activities while reducing resource use and the degradation of ecosystems. Expected co-benefits include reduced pressure on environment, a more efficient use of resources and changing consumer behaviour, which is paramount when achieving the transition to circular economy.

Related SDG targets:
  • 7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
  • 12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.


Photo: © Appolinary Kalashnikova/Unsplash

Municipal Waste Management

In Oslo, the collaboration between the municipality and the population has resulted in an efficient use of resources. The city has set an overall target to reduce its CO2 emissions by 95 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 and to become carbon neutral by 2050. One of the measures needed to achieve this target is an integrated waste management system, which Oslo launched in 2006 with its Waste Management Strategy (WMS), aiming to establish a “recycle and reuse” society10. The citizens sort their waste at home using a system of color-coded trash bags that are collected by the municipal Agency for Waste Management and brought to the waste facilities. Once there, the Waste-to-Energy Agency sorts the household waste and produces district heating, biogas and biofertilizer. This resource-focused way of thinking is the main force behind a circular economy approach that is needed to reach the target of carbon neutrality.

Cities consume about 75 percent of global energy and emit between 50 and 60 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gases12. The global waste problem is also increasingly linked to urbanisation as the growing number of cities are becoming mass producers of waste13. Efficient waste management systems are key to meet the targets of carbon neutrality and greater energy and resource efficiency in any city.

Good practices and solutions

Using a system of color-coded trash bags, the waste that is produced by the city is sorted through an optical separation system at waste management sites Haraldrud and Klemetsrud, where green bags containing food waste and blue bags with plastic packaging are separated automatically from the residual waste. The food waste, together with other biological materials, becomes biogas and biofertilizer, while the plastic waste is handled by Grønt Punkt Norway (Green Dot Norway) and ends up as new plastic products. The residual waste is incinerated and becomes district heating for Oslo’s population11. The system makes it easier for the citizens to correctly dispose a vast majority of their produced waste, at the same deposit sites only using differently coloured bags. This also makes the transportation of waste more efficient as all waste pickups can be centralized to fewer locations. Today, only two colours are used for identification, green and blue. However, there is no limit to the number of colours that could be used for sorting and therefore has the potential for upscaling.

Outcomes and opportunities

A key to the success of the Oslo waste management system is that it required no logistical changes to the existing waste management system and could be implemented rapidly – contrary to the alternative of adding more waste containers and routes for the collection vehicles. As of now, 21 percent of the plastic, 64 percent of glass and metal, and 76 percent of paper and cardboard are recycled. In addition, it seems that by making food waste visible, the system has had an educational effect, making the citizens more aware about the volume of food that is wasted, as the total volume of food waste has reduced by 5 percent since the system started.

Related SDG targets

  • 9.B Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries, including by ensuring a conducive policy environment for, inter alia, industrial diversification and value addition to commodities.
  • 13.B Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities
  • 15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts.


Photo: © Markus Spiske / Unsplash


Grow Smarter

Grow Smarter (GS) was initiated in 2015 by the Environmental Department of the City of Stockholm to use the opportunity renovate existing buildings and areas into models for more energy efficient, smart, and sustainable communities.



Following the Paris agreement in 2017, cities all over Europe have set similar corresponding goals for sustainable development, including a heavy reduction of fossil fuel emissions. By 2040, the City of Stockholm aims to become fossil free and the world’s smartest city, next to its general ambition to be a city “for everyone”.

Stockholm has been reducing its fossil fuel emissions since 1990. Realising the ambitious goal of zero emission is, however, steadily becoming more challenging because previous achievements can be classified as “low hanging fruits”. Reaching zero emissions requires both innovative and large-scale adjustments of housing, transport, and infrastructure systems.

Many cities launch innovative sustainable urban development programmes to solve these issues, such as Norra Djurgårdsstaden in Stockholm (as, in previous decades, Hammarby Sjöstad). To accelerate this effort, however, cities experience a need to team up with industrial actors in targeting the already existing housing stock. Stockholm’s building boom during the 1960s generated many apartments that are now in need of renovation, as is the case in other European cities. Grow Smarter (GS) was initiated in 2015 by the Environmental Department of the City of Stockholm as an opportunity to renovate existing buildings and areas into models for more energy efficient, smart, and sustainable communities. These models are then meant to support a “Full roll-out in European cities” of successful solutions.

Project manager Lisa Enarsson at the City of Stockholm Environmental Department has previous experience from a similar pilot project in Järva (Hållbara Järva) in north-west Stockholm. Together with Jonas Eriksson, contributing previous experience in EU development and a holistic perspective, a 1.5 year long EU funding application process began and eventually yielded a substantial sum for a 5-year project. The project involves partner cities Cologne and Barcelona because they share a similar outlook and problem formulation.

The goals of GS include creating 1,500 new work opportunities in Europe while reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 60% in each testbed area.

Good Practices & Solutions

“We at the [Stockholm] Environmental Department … are driven towards bringing Stockholm into a more sustainable future – even though we don’t have any resources! We are not the ones building houses … Therefore, we are rather good at applying for money.”

A local housing cooperative in Årsta participated in testing solar panels and an energy measuring device designed to reduce housing electricity use and costs. Members of the cooperative shared their experiences and the value provided by the solutions within GS with other residents and cooperatives in the area, for example, during GS’s “Recycling Day” event.

Although Stockholm did not join this initiative, Cologne introduced a community reporter, meaning a local citizen reporting on the progress of the solutions being tested.

It is also important to note that the EU commission has been a target for GS because part of the project has been to try to scale and spread its good practices. A policy-driving aspect has been central to the project, possibly contributing to its success.

Outcome & Opportunities

“What we do is not ‘rocket science’, but rather doing all parts at the same time, that is both [that we] supplement insulation, change windows, check the ventilation system, get a system together, and [adjust] heat pumps to recirculate the heat … Not just taking one part by itself if you are going to reach the whole way up to 60% [emission reduction].”

GS has generated a package of 12 “smart solutions”, divided into the main areas of low energy districts, integrated infrastructure, and sustainable urban mobility.

Examples of solutions include:

–  Low heat loss windows.

–  Isolating water pipes to reduce heat loss.

–  Recycling drain water.

–  Energy-efficient apartment lights.

–  Energy-efficient elevators.

–  A logistics centre to reduce transports.

–  A “leaving home button” reducing energy output in apartments.

–  Outdoor lights dimming in response to human presence, also turning off completely during low-activity hours of the day.

–  Sustainable Delivery: all deliveries are stored in a designated room in every house, which recipients can enter using a unique code through an app.

–  Cameras and sensors anonymously monitoring movement during large-scale events at the adjacent Tele2 Arena in order to improve available data for event attendants when searching for efficient travel home.

–  Providing traffic priority to organic fuel-driven trucks.

–  Smart traffic solutions: a device informs drivers of private cars which speed they should maintain in order to avoid having to stop for red lights.

–  Improved infrastructure for electrified cars.

–  Developing a universal sign for e-car charging, bicycle rental, and organic fuel stations.

GS is being scaled, and 12 similar projects are now initiated, coordinated, and collaborating throughout Europe. This may be due to GS demonstrating its solutions in many cities and exhibitions across Europe.

Lessons learned & Recommendations

GS is the first example of the Environmental Department working this closely together with private companies. The project has thus evolved into a learning process, discovering synergies between these sectors. Furthermore, IESE Business School has provided many companies with new insights from a scientific, interdisciplinary point of view. It is noted and acknowledged, however, that the project overall lacks much of a social approach, although this is not completely overlooked.

The fact that the project had access to a substantial amount of funding early on seemingly made it appear more credible to partners, partially explaining the high number of participating actors in the process.

However, with some solutions having been successful, new challenges have arisen in their wake; an example has been the newly installed heat-saving windows being unable to relieve the outside windows of frost during the long and cold winter, thus reducing visibility and light inflow.

Another example of the challenges of producing solutions within a wider and complex system is that of waste management. Envac introduced a new local waste management system using bags of different colours separated optically in order to increase efficiency of waste sorting. However, the nearest waste management station with the capacity of optically sorting these bags is currently located in Eskilstuna, approximately 110–120 km from Årsta. This naturally calls for introducing equivalent stations closer to the local area, which is currently being looked into.

Initially, some protests occurred due to the announcement of rent increases in the area. While the local rents were indeed substantially lower than those of other adjacent areas, and the renovation in itself being the main reason for the raise (rather than the GS project), this might have contributed to a reluctance towards participation in GS on behalf of local residents.

Related SDGs
  • 7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
  • 7.2 By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
Further reading

Digital Demo


The public sector of Stockholm and Stockholm County needs new forms of partnership to manage some of the most urgent challenges of today and the approaching future decades. Increased pressure on health services, a diminishing supply of fresh water, and an increasing percentage of elderly are a few examples of problems that public actors can no longer handle on their own. In order to secure a socially and ecologically sustainable city, technological solutions need to be developed using a combination of academic, commercial, and practical knowledge. Digital Demo Stockholm (DDS) was initiated by KTH and the two major public actors in the region, the City of Stockholm and the Stockholm County Council. The purpose was to generate innovative solutions to societal problems using digital techniques and to establish lasting structures for trans-sector partnerships in the region.

The companies involve, of which many were already established partners of KTH and its education programmes, had a particular interest in accelerating digital innovations in order to demonstrate these to their many visitors from all over the world. Stockholm, with its relatively small population, is not an important market for any of the companies itself, but rather is an exhibition arena for global investors.

Good practices & Solutions

Forming a think tank consisting of partner representatives, DDS decided to match its demos against an already existing challenge-driven inventory of societal challenges in the City of Stockholm. These challenges were broken down into workshops during which a number of possible demo projects were picked out. The industrial partners assumed a project managing role for each demo and then applied for funding from Vinnova’s R&D programs. Openlab supported DDS with a process manager, using Design Thinking as a chosen methodology for creating innovative solutions. Testing, evaluating, refining, and re-testing is thus a regular process throughout the DDS operations and its demo projects.

“DDS … is more like a big learning process than it is a project”

DDS is heavily dependent on commitment from the leadership. Being a cross-sectorial collaboration, it demands more of its participating individuals than it would if run by only one actor. The steering group has to be ready to intervene in case there is no progress.

The procurement of innovative products and services faces obstacles from Swedish legislation. To tackle these obstacles, DDS appointed a policy council with the specific task of clarifying the necessary legal, operational, and commercial frames in which the partners need to operate.

Outcome & Opportunities

In 2018, DDS had six on-going independent demo projects: iWater, Tech Tensta, Smarta lås (Smart Locks), Smarta trafikljus (Smart Traffic Lights), Safe user-centred healthcare and social care in home environments, and Energy Efficient Healthcare. The results have been tested and presented, for example, in May 2018 at Openlab.

Lessons learned & Recommendations

Each participating actor needs to acknowledge the benefit they gain from the partnership. Municipal politicians need to understand the value of them achieving political leverage from innovation within DDS; business leaders need to see that they attract investors even though not achieving direct gains from the process; and researchers need to appreciate the relationships and networks that they build during the process.

Related SDGs
  • 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
  • 6.4 By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • 7.A By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
  • 8.2 Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
  • 11.B By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
  • 12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • 13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Rosendals Trädgård

The project has transformed and cultivated 2000kvm of land, at the organic café Rosendals Trädgård. This is an attempt to change the narrative of sustainable food production and to develop a sustainable food box out of the cultivation testbed.



A just, global food production regime allows for each human being to cultivate 2,000 square metres of land. Currently, however, the distribution of land is asymmetrical and is focussed on maximising output while minimising cultivation spaces, contributing to nutrition shortage and “welfare diseases” as well as to eutrophication in the Baltic Sea, for example. Moreover, the debate around farming in Sweden is polarised between conventional versus ecological farming. There is a need to change the narrative from one positioning humans as victims and/or perpetrators to having a transformative role. 2000 kvm (English: “2000 sq. m.”) explores the overlooked concept and narrative of regenerative farming within the just space of 2000 sq. m. in an open environment located at the organic café Rosendals Trädgård. Thus, Rosendals Trädgård attempts to create means for developing both innovative business models and healthy sustainable meals for tomorrow’s cities, while re- writing the narrative of sustainable food production and visualising transformative scenarios. The concrete purpose of the project is to develop a sustainable food box out of the cultivation testbed.

Good Practices & Solutions

The team of 2000 kvm are conscious of the challenges emanating from initiating such a project. The design process in itself is rigidly structured. The project does not employ pre- designed methodologies but instead utilises three overarching structures to design and facilitate the co-creative process. First, the project’s theoretical starting point is to work with Systems Change in Open Networks, taught within GAIT (Guild of Agents for International Transformation). Many of the involved individuals share experience from GAIT, thus facilitating a common understanding.

Second, achieving a common basic view is prioritised. In order to have a functioning team, utilising official team contracts based on established joint principles is key to achieve an inclusive culture for diverse experiences and epistemologies, as one generally tends to work with like-minded individuals if principles are not outspoken.

Third, a non-coercive principle is emphasised because it is considered necessary for change processes to be voluntary and interactive. People need to be integrated and involved into the change process.

Starting from these overarching structures, methods are designed according to each structure and operation in a flexible way. The same goes for the people involved; depending on which actors are required in a certain phase, the translation of knowledge – and, consequently, the level of ambition – needs to be continuously adjusted.

The concept “Take care of your square” – with regards to global justice and planetary limits – was coined as guidance for everyone involved in testing the 2000 square metre testbed.

Outcome & Opportunities

As the 2000 sq. m. food box is realised, the expectation is that it will eventually expand into a commonly embraced concept, complementary to currently acknowledged sustainable diet options. Another expectation is that this will contribute to regenerative farming becoming an alternative to the aforementioned dichotomisation in the current discourse around sustainable farming.

Lessons learned & Recommendations

Goals of co-creation processes are not likely to be met if calculations do not include time and resources being set aside for developing the co-creative process as an acknowledged practice. Co-creation is dependent on stakeholders “owning the change process not being required to translate their thinking to the concepts of researchers”, while the researcher needs to respect the narrative of these stakeholders to be met in the co-creation process. Thus, funders need to put higher demands on these aspects; otherwise, researchers or other project coordinators might end up ruining the transformative process.

Other more general challenges for co-creation for sustainable development are the lack of concepts and vocabulary, but equally so the lack of co-creation as a practical craft. Knowledge of these aspects is usually non-existent, even though many prefer and encourage working across sectors and diverse stakeholder groups. The reason for this is that there are no professional requirements for initiating co-creation; it is open for everyone.

The creative sector – art, design, and other cultural crafts – is a valuable asset to foster co-creation. However, using artists and scientists together might be deemed unprofessional and even “fudged”, and this is a risk that might prevent some actors from enabling full co- creation.

Nature must be present in co-creation processes such as 2000 kvm, either through research, a certain space, or a craft because the work being done refers to a constellation involving both humans and nature.

Using and targeting public procurement as a means of enhancing and scaling results is a proven asset, at least within sustainable food innovation.

Related SDG targets
  • 2.4 By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality
  • 2.4.1 Proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture
  • 3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 11.B By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
  • 12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resource
  • 12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
  • 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
  • 15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
Further reading

Experiment 2000 kvm

Partnerships central for innovation

Today, all electricity in Reykjavik is produced with hydroelectric power, and households are geothermally heated; energy usage in district heating emits no greenhouse gases. The current administration with the Mayor of Reykjavik, Dagur B. Eggertsson, in the lead, has made significant progress in the field of energy and resources, and have for the last 15 years made remarkable achievements in reducing greenhouse gases.


A major challenge, globally, is to reduce carbon emissions and The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS, is crucial in tackling climate change in the most cost-effective way. In 2009, the Council of Reykjavík implemented a policy to reduce 35% of emissions by year 2020 and 73% by 2050, compared to emissions in 2007. 

Good practices & solutions

Cooperation with the business community has been central for Reykjavik in finding sustainable solutions to combat climate change. To illustrate this, the Mayor took initiative to get the 100 largest Icelandic companies on board for COP21. Together with the non-profit organization Icelandic Center for Corporate Social Responsibility, companies were invited to make a declaration to set concrete goals and targets commiting to reduce carbon emissions. This was submitted to the climate conference.

Outcome & opportunities

In collaboration with the energy company Reykjavik Energy and scientists from the university, a method to turn CO2 into stone and store it underground has recently been developed. In June 2016 a project called Carbfix, led by Reykjavik Energy, had a climate change breakthrough in their CCS work. The project made it possible to bury CO2 underground and turn it into stone, instead of gas, within only two years.This promises a more affordable, more secure, and more environmentally friendly way of burying CO2 emissions in other regions.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Partnership within the private sector and cooperation with the business community has been central for the city in finding sustainable solutions to combat climate change.

Related SDG targets 

7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.

7.A By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.

Further reading

Coaches for Climate and Energy

Coaches for climate and energy are a national initiative carried out locally that help smal and middle sized companies to reduce their energy use. The coaching is independent, free and voluntary. The investment is financed by the EU and the Swedish Energy Agency, but is largely carried out under municipal auspices in order to have as locally rooted work as possible. The coaches help the companies to lower their running costs, learn about energy and climate and lower their carbon dioxide emissions. The project runs until mid-2020 and is continuously evaluated by the municipalities to see if the working method can be implemented in the regular operations after the end of the project period.

Municipalities that are part of the project:

Stockholm, Sundbyberg, Järfälla, Sollentuna, Solna, Borlänge, Orsa, Mora, Älvdalen, Rättvik, Leksand, Gagnef, Vansbro, Malung-Sälen, Gävle, Sandviken, Hofors, Ockelbo, Gotland, Halmstad, Kungsbacka, Berg, Härjedalen, Krokom, Ragunda, Strömsund, Åre, Östersund, Tranås, Aneby, Eksjö.


It is urgent to reduce energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. Another important matter is to support the competitiveness of small businesses in order to have a more equal society, but also to be able to maintain nice city centers with service close to the population.

Good practices & solutions

The coaches start by going through the company’s entire energy use. This is done on site by going through premises, machines, routines and electricity bills. Calculations are then made on how and where the company can save money, carbon dioxide and energy. The company receive a detailed report with the results, tips on further education and training on the subject and an offer of coaching to go from word to action. The company is also invited to seminars, study visits, fairs or other events that the project organize on the theme of energy and climate.

Outcome & opportunities

Companies usually have great savings potential, 50% is not uncommon. There are many good examples in Sweden of companies that have gone from words to action. The companies appreciate the coaches help and hopefully they will continue to be aware of the connection of their own energy use, electricity bills and profits, carbon dioxide emissions and climate. The project also often result in better and closer relationships between companies and municipalities. New relationships between municipalities and between departments within municipalities are created at the same time (eg collaboration between business unit, supervisory unit and environment/climate unit) when challenges of different nature are included in the work on energy efficiency at small companies, such challenges that have hitherto been addressed quite isolated from each other.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The most important insight is that personal meetings are crucial to change. When the coaches and entrepreneurs meet face to face the insights come and the will for change is born.

Related SDG targets

7.2 – Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

7.3 – Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

8.2 – Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors

8.3 – Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services

11.6 – Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management

11A – Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning

11B – By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels

12.5 – Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

12.6 – Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle

12.8 – Ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

13.1 – Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

13.2 – Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning

13.3 – Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning

17.17 – Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships

Further reading

Testbädd Gröna Solberga

The test bed in Solberga is a form of research and demonstration facility where small companies, researchers and various organizations cooperate with the residents to find solutions together for the housing sector’s environmental challenges.


Housing accounts for roughly 40% of energy use in Sweden, making apartment and facility renovation and innovation an essential prerequisite for reaching SDGs 6 and 11. Moreover, many urban areas in Sweden are facing increasing risks of flooding from heavier rainfalls due to climate change.

The current standard procedure when launching a testbed is to address particular residences and almost never local communities as a whole. This was partly the reason why the Solberga Testbed, labeled by its organisers as “The most living testbed in Sweden”, was launched in February 2018 by IVL and Stockholmshem, funded by ERUF platform Grön Bostad.

The main objective of the testbed is to promote better management of stormwater, surface water and waste. Companies and researchers are invited to join the testbed for experimenting with new solutions and behavioural change for reducing energy use in various contexts while contributing to a viable area and its social value.

Stockholmshem have clear financial goals in attracting business and residents to Solberga, where they own a considerable amount of apartments. The residents are included insofar as they are able on a voluntary basis, endangering a broad long-term citizen commitment. Grön Bostad wish to improve the environmental management conditions in Solberga while attracting private and public actors as well as citizens to keep the process going, hopefully by far outliving the project itself. On top of that, the structural fund has to approve of the results reported.

Good practices & solutions

Using a smaller community for trial-and-error activities with the possibility to fail repeatedly is considered crucial for a successful testbed. Therefore, creating good relations with the residents is key, thereby creating acceptance for a quantity of ideas to be tried out in their daily life. Companies wanting to be a part of the trials is also a welcomed feature.

Residents are invited to participate in test projects such as urban gardening and surface water management through workshops and casual activities. Stockholmshem is known to house many environmentally committed tenants, further facilitating the ongoing work of the testbed.

Outcome & opportunities

Of the solutions tested, notable examples are surface water being diverted into urban gardening use and reducing smell in local waste management in order to facilitate placing waste collecting stations close to residents. Surface water, putting significant pressure on water treatment systems, will be led through specially designed drain pipes instead of down the general municipal draining system. Preserved in local facilities, it will be utilized in hydroponics (water-only gardening) managed by urban gardening company Kretsloppsbolaget. The smell-reducing technology is provided by waste management company Bioteria. In a longer perspective, the organisers hope to contribute to an enhanced circular economy in the area. The project is open for new cleantech companies as long as they want to be included, with Stockholmshem also harboring hopes of appealing to the social aspect as well as the ecological, for example involving the residents in urban gardening, thereby improving social trust and community in the area.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Involving citizens can be difficult, as they do not possess the same time schedules and possibilities as other involved actors; it is particularly necessary to foster good relations with them, as well as with housing owners. Being allowed to fail with experiments occurring in their own environment requires a high level of trust and understanding. Collaborative projects cannot be written, they need to be equally conducted and tried in practice as they need to be prepared and planned. This may be obvious to many, but in academia it is hardly commonplace.

Engaged partners & stakeholder groups

Grön Bostad, Stockholmshem, local residents, cleantech SMEs, IVL.

Further reading

Gröna Solberga

MO-BO: architecture for sustainable mobility


Mo-Bo is a project attempting to solve the challenges of juxtaposing sustainably built housing stands with a sustainable transport system, in which fewer vehicles carry more residents and resources are used in a more efficient way. Contemporary architecture – the “Normal” – is considered insufficient to meet the challenges of sustainable mobility and housing as it still puts private car driving at the centre. Thus, for example, parking lots are still highly prioritised in construction and design processes, obstructing ambitions of transitioning to sustainable housing policy and practice. With Mo-Bo, coordinating actor Theory Into Practice wishes to explore and develop a “New Normal” housing concept, expanding resource efficient transport capacity while tending to the needs of residents.

Good practices & solutions

With KTH/SLU and Trivector providing qualitative and quantitative evaluation respectively, the living lab and testbeds will be spaces of experimentation during one year. Among other procedures, travelling habits of residents are measured in intervals, steering documents such as development contracts are developed and tested, and different practical solutions are tested in the housing testbeds, including shared economy models and digital innovations. Spaces and functions are designed according to mobility needs, green value and desired behavioral change among residents. The developed architectural models are then to be spread and scaled up to substantially influence and alter the current housing policy, thus changing “Normal” into “New Normal”. The theoretical framework for this is Transition Management (TM), a structured process of change in which three levels are considered: niche (innovative environment), regime (the status quo of social and technological practice) and landscape (societal values). In order to influence the regime level, TM strengthens the niche through active reflection and joint activity within the project partner constellation. For example, Learning History is used as a reflecting tool. Thus, the operational process is pre-designed on a detailed level, attempting to address the issue from a holistic perspective.

For the KTH researchers, Mo-Bo is less of a challenge compared to previous experiences, in which KTH participants have risked becoming too dominant. In this case, with Theory Into Practice leading the process, researchers have a much more designated and limited role; this means that researchers do not need to focus on enabling co-creation. As designers and architects, Theory Into Practice are considered an experienced actor with regards to co-creating with different sectors and knowledge groups. However, co-creation has not been at the center of focus or a conscious part of the design.

Outcome & opportunities

As municipalities are a central part of the project, issues of policy development are a priority objective. If the tested solutions are to be scaled and normalised, co-operation of public actors are a necessity. If successfully conducted, the project will launch potential innovative business models and opportunities for mobility.

There are several gains from a social-ecological perspective; as parking lots diminish, the soil surrounding the buildings is allowed to be thicker, thus enabling further gardening and cultivation. “You cannot separate [social and ecological] aspects from one another in housing.”

Lessons learned & recommendations

Coordinating the various interests of the actors is key to knitting together the collaborative effort. Researchers have an inherent interest in publishing their work which has to be met along with the interests of Theory Into Practice, whose main objective remains creating generalisable and sustainable solutions.

Applying for research funding proves to be a complicated matter in multi-stakeholder projects such as Mo-Bo; organisations rarely receive full or equal financial coverage, with private companies easier obtaining larger funds as their interests differ. The increasing incentives for researchers to participate in co-creation with other sectors is contradicted by the fact that funding is insufficient. Moreover, working hours are nearly impossible to assess, especially when considering time for developing products or services in innovative processes.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

KTH, LaTERRE, local residents, SLU, Theory Into Practice, Trivector, Upplands Väsby Municipality, Uppsala Municipality, Urbio AB.

Further reading

Theory into Practice


Norra Djurgårdsstaden


Developing Norra Djurgårdsstaden (NDS), a completely new urban district for 12 000 residents and workplaces for 35 000 people, has been a significant feature of the last two decades of planning in central Stockholm and, naturally, a huge challenge. It was, however, only half-way through the process that the Stockholm City Council in 2009 decided to profile NDS as an internationally competitive hallmark of sustainability, inspired by the previously successful development of Hammarby Sjöstad. This serves municipal marketing purposes while it promotes sustainable and innovative models of urban planning, construction and development that can be adopted by future projects.

Good practices & solutions

Developing a sustainable city district cannot be done by merely assigning the task to the Development Administration at the municipal administration; close co-operation is needed with other departments, construction, housing and other companies, residents and academia. A particular organisation was built up solely for working with NDS, with thematic groups of experts breaking down the many different project goals into specific sustainability requirements. Co-creation of problem definitions and ideas was also present at an early stage by necessity, as those involved in the long and complex development process had different experiences, knowledge, vocabulary and view of the problem, meaning that they needed to develop common frameworks in order to work together. In 2008, KTH conducted a series of future workshops, gathering experts and stakeholders around issues such as transport and energy, in order to gain a broad understanding of the challenges and possibilities of NDS. The outcome of these workshops implied a way forward for developing NDS. In 2010, a World Class Agreement (Swedish: världsklassavtal) was developed by around 100 different actors – including construction companies – regarding NDS. Again, when revising the NDS sustainability vision and targets in 2017, a similar process was conducted, in which researchers, different city administrations and companies, developers, by then established residents and others were involved in working out future challenges and objectives. Requirements specifications have been emphasised throughout the project. First, sustainability requirements are set at a high level.

Second, from an early stage, assigned developers need to declare their data on a regular basis so that requirements can be carefully followed up. Third, the main incentive for living up to requirements is not, as is usually the case, a fine, but open declaration of achievements in NDS’s annual sustainability reports. Not wholly unexpected, many developers anticipated a failure to meet requirements; thus, developing sustainability competence became a highly emphasised part of the process at an early stage. Forum för hållbara lösningar (Forum for Sustainable Solutions) was initiated in 2012 and has held around 20 events where material industry can meet developers to talk about innovative products and businesses. A capacity development programme is held since 2010 of knowledge sharing between involved actors in construction and sustainable development processes. The capacity development programme particularly demonstrates the progress of NDS, but also generally discusses innovative solutions to building sustainable housing. While many actors initially showed reluctance to participate, it only required for a few to join the competence development process for others to follow and subsequently compete with each other regarding learning about sustainability. The close dialogue with constructors also helped to improve project management’s requirement specifications.

NDS works with 5 overarching strategies, each encompassing the three dimensions
of sustainable development:
1) A vibrant city.
Emphasising the public space as an important area for equality and accessibility for all.
2) Let nature do the work
Harnessing green and blue qualities in improving life quality; for example, laying green rooftops is essential in order to meet requirements.
3) Accessibilty and proximity
Providing proximity to societal services and making fossil fuels as redundant as possible by promoting cycling and pedestrians.
4) Resource efficiency and climate responsibility
Creating smart management systems of energy, waste and engaging in a sharing economy. Moreover, a particular centre for re-use and restoration of used materials
and goods creates new value for artisanry connected to these practices, thus enabling a form of circular knowledge.
5) Participation and consultation

Local collaboration within and between neighbourhoods is emphasised through digital and analogue means. In order to experiment and push boundaries in NDS, R&D projects were welcomed to create innovative solutions with NDS as testbed. All projects were coordinated by the NDS strategic sustainability group, promoting projects in particular areas of interest to form a balanced and diverse portfolio of  outcomes. Projects mainly worked according to triple or quadruple helix models, including C/O City, who developed new tools for assessing green qualities in built environment. 7For the NDS project management, the internal anchoring process of the unusual collaboration forms with construction actors, other cities and research institutesultimately took approximately 3-4 years to accomplish; however, the dialogue that has originated out of this process has become particularly beneficial and probably unprecedented for the City of Stockholm. Moreover, the close dialogue format breeds a higher level of respect and understanding due to mutual learning between actorsand their objectives, as well as an environment of constructive criticism.

No particular method has been utilised to foster co-creation apart from general project management tools; managing the chain of ownership by establishing contact higher up in the municipal management structure, and horizontally between departments, has been key to having the right expertise present at as many meetings and forums as possible.

Outcome & opportunities

NDS is currently the home of 6 000 residents having successively moved in since 2012. NDS won the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Awards in 2015 in the category of sustainable city district, awarded at the UN Paris Climate Conference. Through its high requirements, NDS has implemented a rich variety of sustainable solutions and more are waiting to be implemented. While apartments will be costly, the new land allocation agreement assigns developers to shaping properties in order to maximise accessibility in public spaces to attract a diversity of citizens.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The early stage is crucial for success in terms of co-creating sustainable solutions and knowledge. Aspects in need of particular attention in this regard are: clarifying the objectives and involvement of each actor, working on a strategic level, harnessing leadership, not giving up, have the courage to evaluate regularly, internal anchoring, revising targets, supporting the creative process and a general intuitive feeling. A particular significance is paid to including sustainable goals from the beginning, instead of pasting it onto already existing structures. A challenge hitherto unmanaged in NDS is the continuous documentation and preservation of knowledge generated in the process, in order to ensure that it lives on into other projects.

Further reading

Norra Djurgårdsstaden