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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


Photo: Pontus Ohlsson/Unsplash


Produktionslyftet (English: Production Leap, PL) was initiated in 2006 by the trade union IF Metall and the engineering industry association Teknikföretagen, starting with the presupposition that Swedish industries are in need of more efficient solutions and better coordinated procedures in order to endure and to profit from the transition to sustainable production.

Initially targeting enterprises of 50–249 employees, PL was launched as a nationwide 18-month professional coaching and educational programme. Subsequently, Chalmers University of Technology has developed a 7.5 ECTS course (“Lean Production”) especially designed for participants of the PL programme in collaboration with the other participating educational institutions. Another 7.5 course on sustainable leadership (“Lean Ledarskap”) developed at KTH Lean Centre was later added to the programme. PL moreover attempts to expand its use of digital solutions and shorter education periods in order to adapt to the needs of SMEs.

Different development groups contribute methodology and educational aspects. A package of presentations, materials, and educational stages was established to give access to a standard for each node and coach. LEAN was the main method chosen not only for the programme but internally as well, meaning that the involvement of employees is central to PL’s approach. The employees and management are ultimately supposed to work together to implement new methods and working philosophies gained from PL’s education.

PL moreover contributed to the launching of the Matlust project in Södertälje.

Related SDGs
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead
  • 9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
Further reading


Frontrunners for Sustainable Innovation

The Frontrunners for Sustainable Innovation project is a collaboration between the science parks in the Stockholm region, including KTH and Openlab, with the goal of fostering new channels for digital, environmental, and life science SMEs to expand their operations and leverage.

Examples of such channels are market dialogues between stakeholders regarding particular issues and demands as well as innovation procurement. High importance is given to promoting digital services and products such as open data and IoT. By providing the involved science parks as testing and demo environments for relevant SMEs, the project aims to create better structures for sustainable innovation in the Stockholm region.

Related SDG targets
  • 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
  • 5.B Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 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
  • 9.4 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
  • 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
  • 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
Further reading

Frontrunners for sustainable innovation

HISS – Hållbart, Innovativt och Strategiskt Styrelsearbete

Having considerable experience of sustainable business development and communication, consultancy firm 2050 initiated a study of how CEOs and private companies integrate sustainable goals into their respective operations and businesses.

Recognising the various challenges of organisational approaches to sustainability, the project harnesses innovation as a means for empowering sustainability managers and organisations as a whole to accelerate sustainable procedures and goals within their respective business models.

In the long term, HISS hopes to develop models for organisational development that are feasible in both the public and private sectors.

Related SDGs
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
  • 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
Further reading


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

Nordic Bio

Nordic Bio is run by the development programme Wargön Innovation and aims to explore re-usage of textiles in healthcare to prevent waste. The textile sector produces substantial amounts of waste every year in Sweden, but only a minor percentage is recycled or re-used.

Applying research results from VTT in Finland and material production expertise from Cellcomb, Nordic Bio aims to experiment in using new materials and processes for reducing waste while contributing to the healthcare sector becoming more sustainable. Having Region Stockholm as a partner is crucial in realising this objective.

Related SDGs
  • 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • 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
  • 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
Further reading

Bio Innovation 


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

Nature Bizz

The term “green enterprise” has particular connotations in Sweden, denoting a business in which natural resources are the primary focus of operations, such as honey, cultivation, food stuffs, and forestry.

The Interreg project Nature Bizz – Business and Wellness from Green Economy Growth aims to support growth and capacity among green micro enterprises in the Baltic region.

Södertörn University is the main partner in the Swedish context, working with businesses north of Stockholm and on the island of Gotland. A main challenge is that knowledge about green micro enterprises is insufficient. The main operations consist of developing professional education and capacity building for accelerating the sustainable business models of the enterprises according to local user needs, together with stakeholders such as local and regional governance, enterprises, trade organisations, and researchers. Supporting these small actors has particular implications for the survival of peri-urban areas, ecosystems and, in the long term, sustainable urban living.

Related SDGs
  • 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
  • 12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
Further reading



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.

Donate NYC Partnership

The City of New York aims to be zero waste by 2030 and thereby minimise the environmental impact of the city’s waste. Overall, New York aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The DonateNYC Partnership contributes to this aim. Overseen by the New York City’s Department of Sanitation, the DonateNYC Partnership is a network of non-profit organizations in New York City that accept and distribute second-hand and surplus goods. The aim of the partnership is to expand and promote New York City’s local reuse community through strategic collaborations and projects. By accepting unwanted yet usable goods, DonateNYC Partners divert close to 100 million pounds of material from landfills every year and serve over 1 million New Yorkers annually through reuse-funded social service programs such as family support, housing, healthcare, professional development, and feeding initiative.

Logistics of transportation and storage is a major issue in any large urban centre, so also in New York City. To reach the goal of a zero waste New York City by 2030 it is necessary to accelerate the recycling and repurposing of waste by making it easy and finding incentives for companies and organisations to consider waste a valuable resource.

Good practices and solutions

The DonateNYC Partnership provides an online platform and mobile app where members of the partnership are able to list and exchange their available waste resources, items and materials with other members. To participate in the partnership, one has to register as a donor or recipient. For example, a clothing store could register as a donor of used clothes to the partnership, while a non-governmental organization register as needing used clothes to distribute to people in need. Through the platform, these two are connected, the clothing is reused by the NGO and the circle is closed. A newly developed section of the platform is developed to target food waste in New York City. In a similar manner, groups with available food post a donation listing, specifying the type and amount of food, its packaging and delivery requirements, as well as a pickup/delivery time. An algorithm then matches the donations to possible recipients, first by their required criteria (food type, quantity, storage requirements) and then by distance, starting with the closest organization first. Recipients are notified when a donation matches their criteria, and they have a limited amount of time to accept before the algorithm matches a second possible recipient.

Outcomes & Opportunities

One of the main goals of the DonateNYC Partnership program is to quantify reuse in New York City to understand the environmental impacts that reuse has on the local community. In order to accomplish this task, DonateNYC collaborates with the NYC Centre for Materials Reuse on Partner data collection and analysis. Organizations engaged in materials reuse may have limited time, staff, or means to track and analyse data about their reuse activities. This data, if collected accurately, can be used internally to understand and improve operations, and externally to demonstrate and promote the economic-, environmental-, and social benefits of reuse organizations. To accurately analyse and generate reports on Partner reuse data, DonateNYC has developed the Reuse Impact Calculator (RIC), a first-of-its-kind system that uses qualitative and quantitative data to analytically describe the environmental impact of the reuse sector in New York City.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 12. 8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.


Photo: © Mike Rasching/Unsplash

Sharing City Seoul

Seoul proclaimed its Sharing City Seoul Project on September 20th, 2012, along with a plan to conduct sharing projects closely related to the lives of citizens, and to create and diffuse the base for the sharing. Seoul sees the Sharing City Seoul project as social innovation measures that have been designed to create new economic opportunities, to restore reliable relationships, and to reduce the wasting of resources with a view to resolving urban economic, social, and environmental problems all-together. Seoul’s policy for becoming a sharing city aims to encourage the private sector to lead the way in exploring different areas of a sharing economy, while the local government is endeavouring to create infrastructures for the Sharing City Seoul Project and to promote and support sharing activities that are undertaken by the private-sector.

Encouraging and facilitating citizens to adopt the new lifestyle of sharing goods and services to a higher extent, is a key challenge. Programs of educational events to raise awareness must be continuous – to ensure that interest, participation and efforts from all levels are ongoing and not just a passing fad.

Good practices and solutions

The Sharing City Seoul Project has four main objectives and targets: 1) Sharing allows the city to gain more benefits with fewer or less resources since it enhances the usefulness of resources. For example, the construction of a new building for community residents’ gathering will require a huge budget to secure sufficient space. If citizens are able to share the meeting rooms and auditoriums of the city hall, offices, and citizen centres that are vacant at nights and during weekends, however, they can use such spaces for gathering within a short distance without spending too much money. 2) When the sharing economy becomes reinvigorated, it can create new jobs and added values. Furthermore, citizens of the city may earn additional income by lending their idle resources to others at adequate prices. For example, they could earn additional monthly income by leasing their empty rooms to foreign tourists. 3) Sharing can contribute to the recovery of the disappearing sense of community, increasing interpersonal exchanges and restore broken relations since sharing promotes a trust-based, reciprocal economy. 4) Sharing contributes to resolving environmental problems created by excessive consumption. Sharing allows one resource to be used by a number of people, thereby effectively boosting the utilization. Furthermore, sharing connects resources to people who need them, which also reduces waste.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The initiative has certified 50 sharing projects that provide people with an alternative to owning things they rarely use, and given grants to a number of these projects. Certified projects range from local car-sharing company SoCar, and websites like Billiji that help people share things with their neighbours, to schemes that match students struggling to find affordable housing with older residents who have a spare room. One great results of the project are the increasing participation of citizens. Moreover, Seoul has opened up almost 800 public buildings for public meetings and events when they aren’t in use and Sharehub has organized a large public engagement and education campaign with conferences, seminars, reports and a book.

Related SDG targets
  • 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 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.
  • 12.C Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.


Photo: © Ryoji Iwata/Unsplash

Women empowerment through upcycling

ASTA is a Brazilian network of female artisans and a platform for production and retailing of products produced out of waste. ASTA transform artisans into entrepreneurs, and waste into new products. Their objective is to empower women artisans living in vulnerable areas of Rio de Janeiro. It started with helping artisan groups enhance their products and selling them through ASTA’s own sales channels. After 12 years of operations and many lessons learned, ASTA is focusing on its two main areas of actions: Impact and Business.

Women in Brazil still face major inequalities and exclusion from the labour market. Today, women represent a significant part of the social economy, which comprises more than 33,000 businesses throughout the country. However, small-scale artisans face great challenges to the quality and commercialization of their products, hindering their entrepreneurial efforts.

Good practices and solutions

ASTA has developed an innovative capacity building program called the Business School for Artisans, based on the knowledge acquired working with artisans and with the market. The school provides relevant contents regarding business and human capital management, production and sales. ASTA is also focusing on the wholesale market selling corporate gifts for companies produced by the trained artisans base, using the companies discarded materials, operating a circular production cycle.

Outcomes & Opportunities

By providing training to disempowered and marginalized female artist and grant them access to the market by selling their products under the brand of “ASTA” in showrooms and online these women are able to earn an income and develop marked skills. ASTA supports 60 productive groups across 10 states in Brazil, having improved the lives of more than 4.000 women.

Related SDG targets
  • 5.A Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
  • 5.4 Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
  • 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse


Photo: © Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash

Recommerce of clothing

Yerdle Recommerce provides the technology, service and logistics to facilitate the process of creating a “white label” service with the goal of making it easy for apparel retailers to buy back and resell used items. The term “White label” refers, in the case of Yerdle, to the process of upcycling used clothing to such a state that the original producer is able to resell the item as refurbished. Being a platform between consumers and producers, Yerdle is able to facilitate a closed circle of production – consumption – production.

Sustainable production and consumption is key to a sustainable transformation of our societies. Consumptions based emissions of greenhouse gasses are one major contributor to global warming. Buying used clothes instead of new is one way of reducing the need for new production and extends the life cycle of the products. However, there is still a challenge in how to make used goods attractive and easy to buy for consumers. This is the challenge Yerdle addresses by offering a refurbishing service whereby apparel retailers are able to sell used goods in the same way as new ones, making the new/used divide irrelevant for the consumer.

Good practices and solutions

Yerdle provides the service of cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, photographing and posting on online stores clothes made available by customers in exchange of credits that can be used to buy refurbished items. After the clothes have been refurbished by Yerdle, the original producers are able to resell the items under their own brands, complete with warranties, customer service and return policies. Thus, reclaiming the secondary market and reducing the need for new production.

Outcomes & Opportunities

Yerdle is today partner with three major American apparel producers and retailers providing their services for them. Each item Yerdle receives is inspected, inventoried, cleaned, repaired, photographed and placed on the partner’s website. Eventually, it will be picked, packed and shipped to a customer. All of this is done by Yerdle under the partner’s brand. The end consumer never sees the Yerdle name.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
  • 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.


Photo: © Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash

Be Circular – Be Brussels

On 10 March 2016, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region adopted the Brussels Regional Program for a Circular Economy 2016- 2020. The program aims to transform environmental objectives into economic opportunities; relocate the economy to the Brussels area in order to produce locally whenever possible, reduce travel, optimise land use and create added value for Brussels inhabitants and create opportunities for employment. In order to trigger the transition to a circular economy in the region, the program recognise the need to involve start-ups and small businesses. To increase the interest for circular economy among start-ups, self-employed citizens, small business and non-profit organisations, Brussels launched the initiative Be Circular – Be Brussels.

Be Circular – Be Brussels was set up to accelerate the Brussels Regional Program for a Circular Economy 2016 – 2020, focusing on circular economy as a means for business development for start-ups and small scale business. Focusing exclusively on small business, the initiative addresses the challenge of how small-scale producers, start-ups and self-employed can find time and resources to develop the capacity for a circular economy. Larger companies, it was argued, tend to already have access to the resources and knowledge to instigate their own move towards more sustainable ways of working, whereas smaller firms need financial and business support.

Good practices and solutions

Be Circular – Be Brussels is a joint initiative by the city agencies Brussels Economy and Employment, Brussels Environment and The initiative was designed as a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs seeking information, support or funding for circular economy projects.

Be Circular – Be Brussels has three goals: 1) to support innovative business ideas; 2) to identify projects that would have a lever effect on the development of the circular economy; 3) to advance public support for different models of this new economic exchange and production-system, such as the reuse of waste and the collaborative economy.63 As such, the Be Circular – Be Brussels is a regional funding platform supporting the circular transformation in the Brussels-Capital Region.

Outcomes & Opportunities

As a governmentally owned funding platform for circular economy, Be Circular – Be Brussels is able to combine both top-down and bottom-up approaches harnessing insights from the business community understanding their needs and opportunities while also having governmental assistance and financial support. This to support the circular transformation of the Belgian business community. The first call for funding was launched in 2016, 41 proposals were submitted – far more than expected. Out of these entries, 8 were chosen related to a diverse range of industries including food, construction, IT, design and retail. Those submitting proposals could also ask for free methodological support ahead of submission to make their proposed activity more circular.

Related SDG targets
  • 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.
  • 9.B upport 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.
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.


Photo: © Bethany Beck/Unsplash

Redistribution of food for social purposes

The CAUTO Network is an organisation that brings together a consortium of 5 different social cooperatives from the city of Brescia, Italy. Founded in the early 1990s, the network cooperates together with local businesses and implements a number of projects focused on empowering socially marginalized and vulnerable groups. The food pantry, a large-scale food redistribution scheme from retailers to charities, is one of the most successful activities of the CAUTO network.

In the EU, around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually with associated costs estimated to 143 billion euros. Wasting food is not only an ethical and economic issue but it also depletes the environment of its limited natural resources. By reducing food loss and waste we do not only come one step closer to achieve the SDGs, but it also contributes to the fight against climate change since food waste alone generates about 8 percent of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. On top of that, it also saves nutritious food for redistribution to those in need, helps eradicate hunger and malnutrition; in the EU alone, 43 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day. The economic benefits of reducing waste are evident as it saves money for farmers, companies and households.61 Challenges of the CAUTO project include difficulties in establishing a constant flow of food donations since the amount of waste differs. Moreover, collaborating with retailers has been a challenge as their priorities vary. At the moment, only 5 percent of discarded food is recovered.

Good practices and solutions

In 1993, CAUTO started to procure food for social purposes from wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in the city of Brescia. Since then the activities have increased exponentially and the CAUTO network is today partnering with a local network of food companies, canteens, hypermarkets and supermarkets who donate unsold goods, no longer tradable but still edible and safe. The selected food is donated to a network of about 200 local charities. The beneficiaries are thousands of people in need. The food unsuitable for people is donated to local farmers and used for animal nutrition. For retailers, the redistribution scheme is a great way of reducing disposal costs for mixed and organic waste.

Outcomes & opportunities

CAUTO successfully extend the life cycle of food by reducing waste, repurposing it and making it into food donations or animal fodder. It is economically beneficial for the supermarkets who enjoy a decrease in disposal costs and for the charities who depend on food donations. Annually CAUTO redistributes 3 000 tons of food waste.

Related SDG practices
  • 2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
  • 10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.
  • 12.3 By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.


Photo: © Aneta Pawlik/Unsplash

Better Plastics

Banyan Nation, an Indian plastic recycling company based in Hyderabad, has received much international attention for its use of data intelligence to collect plastic waste and repurpose it by removing inks, coatings, and other contaminants using environment-friendly detergents and solvents. The plastic cleaning technology used by Banyan converts collected post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste into high quality recycled granules comparable in quality and performance to virgin plastic.

Around 20 million tons of plastic per year is consumed in India for products and packaging. India is world leading when it comes to the recycling of plastic bottles, some estimates that as much as 70-80 percent of bottles are recycled. That equals about 10 million tons of discarded plastic that makes it into recycling streams annually, but over 80 percent of this is downcycled into potentially contaminated low-value products. It is a large amount of downcycled plastic disabling the possibility to meet the uprising demand of virgin plastics. The challenge that Banyan Nation address is how to recycle plastic in such a way that it can be reused for the same original product, therefore closing the circle.

Good practices and solutions

The idea behind Banyan Nation is to limit the downcycling of plastic waste; when the plastic waste is contaminated with low-value plastics, product remnants like oils, shampoos and moisture and in certain cases heavy metals such as lead, phosphorus, mercury and the like that can be harmful to humans. The process of cleaning the plastic, as developed by Banyan, is able to produce a near virgin state of plastic making it possible for an upcycling, rather than downcycling, of waste. This technology has, for example, enabled car manufacturer to recycle a bumper into a brand new one at competitive cost, thereby enabling more effective use of resources.

Outcomes & Opportunities

To date, Banyan Nation has recycled over 500 tons of plastic, reduced over 750 tons of carbon dioxide, and diverted over 1,000 tons of plastic from landfills. Banyan is also the only Indian company yet to be recognized by ’The Circulars’, the circular economy award program, at the World Economic Forum in Davos for its pioneering work in developing closed-loop models in plastics recycling in emerging markets.

Related SDG practices
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 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.
  • 12.4 By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.


Photo: © Simson Petrol/Unsplash

5-fractions coalition

Poland is developing a roadmap for the transition to a circular economy, the CLE Map. The document identifies, in particular, measures to increase the efficiency of resource use and reduce waste generation. The roadmap is an instruction manual for the subsequent stages of introducing a circular economy in Poland. It is also a strategic document to guide a responsible and sustainable development. The purpose of the roadmap is to interlink all stages of the waste life cycle. It is an attempt to approach the topic of the circular economy very broadly, as to focus on all elements of the product life cycle including the acquisition of raw materials, processing, eco-design, sustainable consumption, and waste management.
One interesting example of a project that has been developed out of the CLE map is the 5-fractions coalition, an initiative by stakeholders in Partnership for the realization of SDGs, coordinated by the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology. The first system solution for increasing the percentage of separate waste collection in Poland.

The growing amount of municipal waste in Poland largely comes from different kinds of packaging, a lack of clear labels and symbols for consumers on how to sort packaging waste makes it difficult to recycle correctly.

Good practices and solutions

The 5-factions coalition is an intersectoral initiative based on several companies and institutions that together have acknowledged a huge gap in the field of education and tools needed to achieve the environmental goals in Poland. Their goal is to disseminate knowledge and practice in the field of waste sorting, recovery, and recycling among consumers. In order to do so, the coalition has developed an infographic system to ease the task of sorting waste. They rely on a coherent and uniform system of pictograms that entrepreneurs and local governments can use to mark their products by waste type, thus simplifying the task of sorting the waste by consumers and waste managers.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The 5-factions coalition has prepared pictograms for packaging manufacturers to place on packaging products for local governments and companies to place on their waste containers. All actors involved in recycling, packaging recovery or environmental education can join the joint educational projects of the 5-factions coalition, promoting the labeling and proper waste separation.

Related SDG targets
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
  • 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
  • 17. 6 Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism.


Photo: © Joshua Fuller/Unsplash

Retuna Recycling Mall

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria (ReTuna Recycling mall) is the world’s first recycling mall, revolutionizing shopping in a climate-smart way. Old items are given new life through repair and upcycling. Everything sold is recycled or reused or has been organically or sustainably produced.

Eskilstuna Municipality strives to be a green role model. In its environment-related development work, the idea came about to open a mall that had “regular” shops, but with a reused and upcycled range of products. The concept would attract a broad target group, and spread knowledge about sustainability and circular economy.

Good practices and solutions

The mall opened its doors in August 2015 and is located next to the Retuna Återvinningscentral, recycling center at Folkestaleden in Eskilstuna. It is easy for visitors to sort the materials they are discarding into the containers and then drop off reusable toys, furniture, clothes, decorative items, and electronic devices in the mall’s depot, called “Returen”. In the depot, staff from AMA (Eskilstuna Municipality’s resource unit for activity, motivation and work) perform an initial culling of what is usable and what is not. The items are then distributed to the recycling shops in the mall. The shop staff then perform a second culling, where they choose what they want to repair, fix up, convert, refine – and ultimately sell. In this way, the materials are given new life.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The business concept is working: In 2018, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria had 2 million € in sales for recycled products. But, ReTuna is more than just a marketplace. It also aims to be a public educator. ReTuna organizes events, workshops, lectures, themedays, and more – all with a focus on sustainability. The folk high school Eskilstuna Folkhögskola conducts its one-year education program “Recycle Design – Återbruk” on the premises. There are also conference rooms, where guests can hold climate-smart meetings. Organic lunch and baked treats are on offer at Café Returama.

In addition to offering sustainable shopping and serving as a public educator in relation to environmental issues, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria has generated over 50 new jobs. The mall has become international news – documentary filmmakers, journalists and curious tourists from around the world have visited ReTuna Återbruksgalleria. The concept is now spreading.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.1 Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries.
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.


Photo: © Inspiration Feed/Unplash



Circular start-ups

Named the most advanced digital society in the world, Estonia has developed a comprehensive digital ecosystem comprising many aspects of everyday life. Taxation, voting, health, residency are some of the social services managed through e-solutions in e-Estonia, a movement by the government of Estonia to facilitate citizen interactions with the state through the use of electronic solutions.
Having been a global leader in the digital transformation for the last two decades, Estonia is today experiencing a boom in the start-up scene of innovative companies making use and developing on the foundation of the already fully digitalised Estonian society. Ranking third in Europe regarding the highest number of start-ups per capita, Estonia is also ranked 24 on the Global Innovation Index.

With only 11 years left to implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, it is crucial that the private sector continues to develop services and products if we are to fulfil our global goals. It is evident that states and public service providers are not able to meet the challenges of sustainable development alone. However, for innovative companies and start-ups to commit to a circular business model with resource efficiency and sustainable growth as core values, they need the government to support technology development and small businesses as well as investors who cherish sustainability and realize the long-term profitability of such values.

Good practices and solutions

Favourable conditions for setting up start-ups in Estonia has created a scene of Greentech start-ups working with circular business models, trying to find market opportunities for innovative products, services and solutions for greater resource efficiency and sustainability. Inspirational start-ups to highlight as an example of best practices include:

• 3cular: Eco-innovative 3D printing that gives wood waste a new value. 3cular is reinventing 3D printing in a sustainable way, enabling manufacturers to produce any kind of wooden objects out of leftover wood material, increasing resource productivity and reducing the use of plastics as the most popular 3D printing material.

• Pillirookõrs: Reusable, biodegradable drinking straw made exclusively from reed that grows naturally on the shores of Saaremaa, in the Baltic Sea. Reed is processed into the straws without the use of any additives. Each one is handmade and can be reused and washed in the dishwasher. After the Pillirookõrs has served its purpose, it will decay completely; completing the circle.

• Rohepakend: Alternative to disposable plastic utensils and food containers made from recycled cloth. Individuals and companies donate fabric and Rohepakend gives it a new life as a sustainable and biodegradable food container.

Outcomes & Opportunities

According to e-Estonia the following reasons explain why Estonia is able to foster a culture fuelling the innovative start-ups scene:

• e-Services and the ease of doing business. Being able to conduct most tasks of setting up a business online through the e-Estonia platform and through other digitised service providers. Also, business-friendly taxation with a corporate tax rate at 21 percent with no double taxation on dividend income.

• People and community. The Estonian start-up community has good relations with the government and their voices are actively being heard as the government does its best to be responsive to entrepreneurs and start-ups.

• Developed and affordable living environment. The quality of life in Estonia is high but at the same time it’s very affordable: Tallinn is one of the more affordable capitals of the EU while also among the most connected cities in the world, offering almost universal free public WiFi and free public transportation for residents.

• Ease of hiring talent. Estonia has also made it easy for local start-ups to acquire foreign talent, as in January 2017, the country launched its Start-up Visa.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 9.4 Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries.
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.

Photo: © Jaanus Jagomag/Unsplash

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

Deposit Return System

In 2016, the government of Lithuania implemented a “deposit return system” for disposable beverage packaging as an attempt to combat litter and increase the collection- and recycling rates of used drinking bottles. Consumers would pay a deposit amount of €0.10 when purchasing eligible drink containers, to be refunded when the empty container is returned for recycling. This system is not unique to Lithuania, similar deposit-return systems are present in most European countries. However, the system implemented in Lithuania has proven the most successful of the EU member states with 74 percent of plastic packaging recycled, according to a Eurostat study. The number can be compared to the second best country, Cyprus, where 64 percent and to the average within the EU of 42,4 percent of plastic packaging are recycled.

The national DRS has successfully tasked both producers and consumers to take responsibility for the recycling of their products. It is estimated that through the DRS, 21.000 tons of packaging per year is recycled instead of ending up in dumpsites or the environment.

Good practices and solutions

One of the key reasons behind the recycling success in Lithuania has been the nationwide roll out of a national Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS), with easy-to-use reverse vending machines where consumers can deposit used plastic bottles and receive a cash-back of €0.10 per bottle.

Producers and importers that supply alcoholic and alcohol-free beverages in disposable glass, plastic or metal containers with a capacity of more than 100 ml, but below three l, are obligated to participate in the deposit system for disposable beverage packaging. Individuals who buy beverages in metal, glass and plastic containers marked with the deposit symbol pay the deposit at the point of sale and can collect a refund after delivering the packaging to a DRS machine. There are now over 1,000 DRS machines at large retail chains across the country and more than 1,800 small shops are also accepting the plastic containers. The performance of this system, i.e. the container return rate, reached about 70 percent in the first year of operation and more than 90 percent in the second year of operation.

The public institution Užstato Sistemos Administratorius manages the entire deposit system, starting with the collection of the packaging waste and ending with it being recycled. The process can also be tracked in real-time, at the time of writing this report, 1,649,489,610 packages have been recycled through the system.

Outcomes & Opportunities

By the end of 2016, 99.8 percent of the Lithuanian public were aware of the deposit system, with 89 percent having used it at least once. 58 percent of consumers reported recycling more and 78 percent believed the deposit system to be good and necessary. Prior to the scheme, only one-third of all beverage containers in Lithuania were returned. The goal of a 55 percent return rate in 2016 was exceeded to 74.3 percent of all beverage containers returned for recycling. The return rate reached a huge 91.9 percent by the end of 2017.

Related SDG targets
  • 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
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
  • 17.6 Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism.


Photo: © Giuseppe Famiani/Unsplash

Subscribing on technology

Mainstreaming circular approaches and business models into the German society at large, supported by national legislation, have made evident the financial and environmental benefits and opportunities offered by circularity. A rise of green and circular start-ups has named Berlin ‘the circular economy innovation hub of Europe’18 . Grover is one of the more well-known start-ups in Berlin that offer “pay-as-you-go” subscriptions to the latest consumer tech as an alternative to owning products. Through their service, consumers are able to subscribe products, such as laptops or phones. The service offers consumers “good as new” products for a monthly fee, and if a product is damaged or if the consumer needs to change it to a different one, Grover replaces it. This way, the need for consuming new products is reduced. By offering a subscription-based service to consumers, Grover is developing the rental-based economy in Germany offering their customers tech-products by monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription. Germany is, according to Politico´s Circular Economy Index, outperforming other European countries in terms of circular economy practices, holding an estimated 1260 patents that have to do with sustainable products, processes and services. This is a lot more than any other country in the top five list of European countries. The Circular Economy Index takes into account seven key metrics: annual municipal waste per person; municipal recycling rate; trade of recyclable raw materials; material reuse rate; investments in circular economy sectors; circular economy patents; and annual food waste per person. 

The EU generates almost three billion tonnes of waste annually, of which 90 million tonnes are hazardous waste. A societal shift from ownership of goods to shared access of goods is necessary in order to move away from a traditional take-make-waste economy and instead towards a system that balances our resources and the environment. Producers are driven by economic incentives and getting consumers to purchase the latest products is argued necessary for continued economic growth. This model ultimately ensures that products are developed not to last. A rental economy where products are designed to be rented, rather than sold, would rather provide producers with incentives to develop repairable products with a longer lifespan that could be used by multiple users. A rental-based economy would therefore reduce the need to buy single-use products, thus reducing the demand and production.

Good practices and solutions

Working in cooperation with Europe’s largest electronics retailers, Grover has grown to be a leading player in the consumer electronics market by redefining the ways in which consumers relate to products which maximises usage and minimises waste. Grover’s subscribers gain access to consumer electronics on a monthly basis and return items when they are no longer needed. Examples include smartphones, laptops, cameras, wearables and smart home appliances.

Outcomes & Opportunities

Through their platform, Grover is able to increase asset utilization and enable products to be cascaded through multiple user cycles. Products are rented in good conditions and returned products are serviced, cleaned and repaired, before a new customer request it. This way, each product has a longer life-cycle than it would if purchased as new.

Related SDG targets
  • 12.5 By 2030, 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.C Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.


Photo: © Ilya Ilford/Unsplash

The Smart Map

In 2016, the City of Gothenburg, Sweden, took initiative to develop an interactive map for its citizens to gather a multitude of happenings, events, initiatives and projects aimed at supporting a more sustainable lifestyle. The initiative is a partnership between the public and private sector and the people and is therefore reliant on local organisations to provide services and citizens to report their activities to the map. The map aims to make it easier for citizens of Gothenburg, as well as visitors, to live more sustainably. The map encourages more inclusion, facilitates new ways of linking up, and promotes access to shared services with the purpose to provide sustainable and resource efficient alternatives to mainstream services and products. For example, people are encouraged to find alternatives to consumptions, such as sharing and lending. The maps is open source and is continuously evolving, any citizen or organisation can propose new initiatives.

It should be easy to live sustainable lives but for citizens looking for alternative services or more sustainably produced products, it can be a challenge. In the City of Gothenburg, as in all cities, there are a lot of different organizations, citizens and companies that strive for more sustainable choices. They are each working in their respective fields to realise that vision, whether it be as a private citizen with great knowledge on bike repairs, a grocery store that is looking for ways to limit food waste, or an organisation repurposing old clothes for people in need. In order to make their activities fruitful and realise their vision at large, they need to be connected. Hence, the map serves as a good tool to link these users together and create a community that cocreates the information offered on the platform.

Good practices and solutions

The Smart Map highlights current and upcoming activities and networks throughout the city. The map works as a community where people can interact and promote their services and solutions to a greater audience. For example, the map shows different “swap services”, lending services for toys, clothes and machinery, bike repair shops, carpools, work and event spaces. By connecting people with different needs and solutions, the map facilities more sustainable ways of living for the citizens of Gothenburg. The maps has categories such as; food, knowledge, meetings, mobility, spaces, things and transaction types. The map is design in a way that the makes the search functionality very flexible, allowing users to search for initiatives by name, sector or activity. As a user, one can also browse the ongoing activities in your area or be inspired by projects in another part of the city.

Outcomes & Opportunities

To publish information on the map, the initiative must fulfil a number of criteria (number 1-5 are compulsory):

1. Open to everyone or limited to a particular block or group of residents
2. Items and services are provided free of charge (or at cost price)
3. Be a local community actor
4. Facilitate urban commons and accesses, rather than ownership
5. Promote renting, sharing, exchanging, borrowing and giving, rather than purchasing and selling
6. Promote exchange between private individuals
7. International companies are not allowed if they are not a cooperative

What is presented on the map is also decided through joint consultation between the association Collaborative Economy Gothenburg and the City of Gothenburg Consumer and Citizen Services Administration and are founded on their collective values and common remit. Anyone can submit a proposal by completing a ‘Add an activity’ form. Activities are then selected through a discussion between the project owners.

Related SDG targets
  • 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.
  • 12.C Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.


Photo: © Jonas Jacobsson/Unsplash

Circular Public Procurement

The municipality of Aalborg has high aspirations when it comes to sustainability and has during the past two decades worked committedly to improving the sustainability of the city. It is the fourth largest city in Denmark and is home to more than 200 000 citizens. As a result of a Danish school reform that recognised the importance of differentiated learning environments for facilitating inclusion, well-being and improved learning, schools in Denmark are looking for new classroom designs, which are flexible and dynamic and that can be tailored to classes’ learning needs. Aalborg decided to use this opportunity to transform their approach of classroom design far away from just focusing tables and chairs, and instead create an inspiring learning environment, that supports students’ needs whilst also strengthening the circular economy of the school. Thus, Aalborg designed a public procurement tender that asked providers not just to supply, but also inspire and challenge ideas, and provide a comprehensive proposal for a new classroom environment based on circularity and the re-use and refurbishing of existing furniture.

The environmental impact of furniture and other classroom equipment are linked to the materials that are used in the production. Schools are just one of many examples where furniture and other equipment have a short lifespan due to its heavy use. Not only is purchasing new furniture expensive, it is also not environmentally sustainable. But, as the actual use of furniture results in virtually no environmental impact, extending the lifespan has a direct environmental benefit. As such, a circular approach to procurement, which rewards reuse and refurbishment over purchases of new furniture, can be considered a more holistic and sustainable approach to meeting organisations furniture needs.

Good practices and solutions

The use of public procurement to support the acceleration of circular economy and sustainability in public services is a good example that is also advocated as a useful method by the EU. In the case of Aalborg, the tender for new classroom designs was designed to include provider merits of:

• Integrating the principles of circular economy with interior design solutions
• Analysing interior design through dialogue with schools
• Guaranteeing the possibility of recycling existing furniture
• Preparing interior design proposals
• Restoring and refurbishing existing furniture
• Delivering and installing new furniture
• Responsibly disposing of excess furniture which is not considered suitable for reuse or recycling.

This way, Aalborg ensured that the provider would be responsible for the long-term maintenance the produces and use sustainable materials and reparable furniture with a long life-cycles. Furthermore, technical specifications of the tender specified that the use of packaging should be made from recycled materials, at least 70 percent of wood used should come from sustainable sources. The producer also had to provide service and during the total warranty period had to inform the schools of the relevant maintenance services available and advised for each product.

Outcome and opportunities

Sustainable and circular procurement looks beyond short-term needs and considers the whole lifecycle of a product or service. As a result, schools can reuse and repair classroom furniture rather than purchasing new, thereby saving costs, as well as reducing the environmental impact of producing new furniture. However, for the procurement process to work as expected it is important to design the tender carefully with cross-sectoral input on how to define the services and products asked for. It is also important to include a requirement for continued monitoring and evaluation of the services provided throughout the whole contract period in order to ensure that the procurement and the services provided meet the objectives.

Related SGD targets:
  • 4.A Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
  • 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
  • 12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.


Photo: © Katya Austin/Unsplash


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

Design for sustainable co-creation

Back to the Land 2.0 is an international multi-disciplinary design course about re-connecting urban activities with rural activities as one way to enhance food culture and security. Using a collaborative creative learning platform for preparatory work, and in a live week together shaped by the Theory U process, students will learn together with international experts and local partners engaged in food systems.


Good Practices & Solutions

As an innovative way of creating and managing sustainable food systems through creative disciplines, Konstfack University college of Arts, Crafts and Design coordinates an international course consisting of creative methodology learning integrated with real life testing of solutions. The course teaches and uses the Theory U-process, a model developed at MIT for transformative leadership in organisations. The fundamental statement on which the theory is based is that the inner and deeper mechanisms of leadership are a “blind spot” and need to be discovered.

The process consists of five stages: co-initiating, co-sensing, presencing, co-creating, and co-evolving. Co-initiating means to build common intent and engagement through dialogue and listening to other participants’ wishes. Co-sensing is an observing stage in which relevant places and stakeholders are approached, listened to, and analysed. Presencing is the problem-formulating stage in which the process connects its observations to its initial inspiration and will. Co-creating is a prototyping stage of designing solutions in real life situations. Co-evolving means achieving impact on a macro scale, in this case by reaching out to the particular organisation as a whole.

Outcome & Opportunities

The first half of the course consists of individual preparatory work, followed by an on- site, collaborative workshop series lasting one week. During the second half, students share their insights and co-create with the local stakeholders and other actors such as leading international and national experts.

Related SDG targets
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.3.2 Proportion of cities with a direct participation structure of civil society in urban planning and management that operate regularly and democratically
  • 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 resources
  • 12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
Further reading

Konstfack – Summer Course: Design for Sustainable Co-Creation 

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

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

Bagarmossen Smartup / Bagarmossen Resilience Center


In 2009, the area of Bagarmossen along with the whole city district of Skarpnäck was considered an uneasy and unsafe part of Stockholm in several regards. For example, many interviewed residents perceived the district centre square as intimidating. Skarpnäckslyftet, a collaborative effort by the police, the local city district, housing companies and various youth and social workers managed to increase the average perception of safety in the area during the next 5 years. However, in order to stabilise this recent positive development, more proactive local work was considered
necessary by public housing company Stockholmshem with regards to public safety in particular and social as well as economic sustainability in general. Many residents still requested more viable and diverse public spaces with access to ecological food and social activities. The local non-profit organisations such as Folkets hus – a public facility for meetings and activities – had become increasingly indisposed to current demands from local residents.

Good practices & solutions

With key actors in and outside Stockholmshem having experience from previous development project Hållbara Hökarängen (Sustainable Hökarängen), also in south Stockholm, Bagarmossen has access to substantial knowledge regarding the implications of utilising local initiatives and knowledge. Thus, Bagarmossen Smartup was conducted from 2014 to the end of 2017 with three focal
areas; creating a living area centre, urban gardening and creativity & entrepreneurship. Bagarmossen Resilience Centre followed in 2016 and is still a key actor in the ongoing sustainable development of the local area.

Involving the local residents proved quite challenging to achieve in practice. Residents were first reluctant to the notion of external projects meddling in local affairs. Moreover, a certain fear of gentrification processes was present. Both the Bagarmossen Smartup office and later the Resilience Centre (established in the same house) were therefore used as meeting points, enabling residents to visit and discuss local issues when willing, rather than being confronted by consultants or top-down experts aiming to “solve” their challenges.

Economy is a lasting challenge for the locally driven initiatives. As the development of Bagarmossen proceeds, more and more ideas arrive at the forefront waiting to be realised, either proposed by residents or other key driving actors. Yet there are no sufficient joint resources or vision among the involved actors for promoting all ideas, nor for prioritising and selecting them according to a guiding principle.

Two of the constant guiding principles for Bagarmossen Smartup were to only sponsor initiatives who were able to support themselves financially after the conclusion of the project, and to only use local knowledge and activity whenever possible. The project was viewed as a means for reaching a desired outcome of long term safety and sustainability.

Bagarmossen Smartup co-funded two researchers – one from KTH and one from Smart Retro Innovation Demos in Helsinki – who followed the city development process and exchanged knowledge with the project leaders. Bagarmossen became one of three chosen testbeds for sustainable solutions and was presented in Smart Retro’s speculative future history scenario in three parts.

Practices supported by the Smartup project included opening of second hand clothing shops, bicycle workshops and creating opportunities for grocers and other entrepreneurs in the central square. A bicycle mechanic container was installed at the square in 2015 to promote sustainable transport and local craft professions by offering accessible repairment and classes on how to repair one’s bicycle at home.

Bagarmossen Resilience Centre (BRC) was founded in 2016 by Susanna Elfors, KTH PhD in sustainable development, together with local social entrepreneurs. The founding followed an ambition of promoting resilience and sustainable transition in a local context. It serves mainly as a co-working space and education hub for local sustainability, e.g. by giving permaculture classes to individuals. It is maintained as a co-operational society for commercial purposes. BRC:s strategy has since been to cooperate with actors commanding more resources, with BRC providing specialised expertise on sustainable development to already existing projects and processes.

In collaboration with KTH, Bagarmossen Folkets Hus, City of Stockholm, Emmaus second hand enterprise and Runö Folkhögskola, the pilot project Local Life was tested in Bagarmossen as in several other areas nationally and locally. Local Life is a digital concept for sharing economy and aims to reinforce social capital mechanisms by facilitating sharing practices between neighbours and residents in the same area. BRC was coordinating the pilot insofar as they reached out to residents on social media in order to create commitment for the project, as well as following up the
outcome of the project with interviews and surveys among residents to investigate whether their levels of interaction have increased or not.

“Skrubben” is a sharing platform tested within the Local Life project initiated by a local resident. Skrubben functions as a loaning wardrobe (Swedish: lånegarderob) that enables residents to exchange clothes in a local barack.

Bagiska Veckan was introduced in 2017 as a week of entertainment and educational activities with the purpose of promoting the UN SDGs. This initiative was co-managed and funded by Swedish international development organisation SIDA together with Andreas Sidkvist from BRC and co-developed with the City of Stockholm.

Outcome & opportunities

Stockholmshem owns roughly 75% of the buildings in the centre of Bagarmossen,enabling them to take action on a broad scale. This is an exceptional advantage,
since a diversity of private and public landlords would have demanded another approach and partnership constellation.

After the Smartup project, Bagarmossen’s residents experience a more safe andstable environment compared to the early 2010’s and have willingly contributed on their own account to various sharing, cultivating and social capital-building efforts during the period. Stockholmshem’s goals for increased perception of safety for 2018 were met or exceeded already by 2017. 3 The prerequisites of the area, including a committed population, a socially aware public housing company with a strong presence and key individuals and organisations moving matters forward, have
shaped this development and should be considered both outstanding within the region and essential to the outcome.

BRC is constantly developing and producing ideas for future local sustainable development; one of those mentioned is allotek, which can be translated as “omnibrary”: a sharing centre for things and resources. The municipality is interested but BRC would have to become a non-profit association in order for this to happen.

Lessons learned & recommendations

As entrepreneurs, the members of BRC try to work according to three rules:
economic gain, values and competence. If an idea will generate income while not compromising one’s core values and the issue is situated within one’s area of knowledge, it is worth developing. Bagarmossen Smartup owed much of its success to being receptive and focussing on providing space for local initiatives:

“[Bagarmossen Smartup] is a successful project and we owe that to us not being locked in the idea of how we are supposed to do things, but rather being perceptive and listening”. – Tobias Lind

Engaged partners & stakeholder groups

Stockholmshem, local residents, local SMEs, KTH, Smart Retro Innovation Demos Helsinki, Bagarmossen Folkets Hus, non profit associations, City of Stockholm/Skarpnäck City District Administration, SIDA.

Further reading

Bagarmossen Smartup

Bagarmossen Resilience Center

Electricity – Hammarby sjöstad 2.0


The area of Hammarby Sjöstad has a long history of sustainable urban development. Reinvented as a sustainable best practice in Stockholm in the 1990’s, it was long acknowledged as the best example of promoting sustainable waste and heat management. The Hammarby Model (Swedish: Hammarbymodellen), the fundamental concept for planning the area through eco-governance (reduction and re-usage of energy, water and waste), is considered a promising component for Swedish service export. However, during recent years, a local self-image of having reached far enough has been challenged due to increased demands and higher sustainability goals. Calls for scaling up innovative sustainable efforts led to ElectriCITY (EC) being founded as an economic association in 2014 by Allan Larsson, an experienced driving individual in several sustainable urban development processes, and other individuals living in Hammarby Sjöstad. The initial purpose was to promote sustainable energy use by organising citizens through the many local housing associations, constituting approximately half the local population. EC became a partner to Sjöstadsföreningen, umbrella organisation for 50+ housing associations in Hammarby Sjöstad. Subsequently, EC was established as a collaboration platform for innovation between companies, research and civil organisations. Hammarby Sjöstad 2.0 was launched by EC as a process of improving local conditions for sustainable living and system transformation through eco-governance and collaboration across sectors, with high environmental requirements as those of other urban development projects. The overarching ambitions are system transformations in energy, mobility and circular economy, realised through a diverse number of projects, including the testing of a sharing economy, efficient energy and transport management and more sophisticated clean technology innovation. As Stockholm has committed to reaching the Paris agreement’s 2050 goals already by 2040, EC has committed to locally exceed these requirements in Hammarby Sjöstad as a frontrunner example, reaching the Paris goals already by 2030.

Good practices & solutions

Trough strategic partnership, EC, Sjöstadsföreningen and the housing associations have been able to attract some 40 different actors from industry, public administration, invest companies, technology innovation and research. Since the 1990s, the main approach for Hammarby Sjöstad is to conduct mission-driven innovation, in which clear objectives, time plans and a joint effort are being fostered. The innovation process is thus rendered more substantial and powerful. This fundamental strategy is being refined and developed further within EC. The mission-driven approach serves as a structure or framework for enabling sustainable co-creation, as it drives processes into selecting relevant participants from concerned sectors, then working towards various specific goals on a systemic level with the overarching objective of a climate neutral area in 2030. The many sub-projects then co-create according to their own prerequisites and objectives. EC functions as a platform, testbed and urban living lab for testing of a wide range of sustainable solutions, with individuals working and living in the area as everyday users. The solutions are developed, provided, tested and/or evaluated by actors from academia, civil society, public administration and the private sector in collaboration with the housing associations of Sjöstadsföreningen. EC thus functions as a matchmaking actor, distributing relevant actors to the associations, and a co-funder of activities initiated within the process of Hammarby Sjöstad 2.0.

Outcome & opportunities

“What we do is not that … innovative, it is common sense … obviously, [this is] how things should be done. But there is, like, nobody who thinks about that.”

EC encompasses a quite exceptionally large spectrum of activities and projects, all of which share a fundamental ambition of improving quality of life for local residents while securing a sustainable future. Main focus areas are energy, mobility and digital infrastructure, with a selection of activities and initiatives listed below.

Main areas:
System transformation in energy
Mapping of energy use has been a fundamental component for raising local awareness. The Stockholm Environmental Department (Miljöförvaltningen) contributed this mapping to EC in its initial stage.
Energy at Home (Swedish: Energi hemma); an initiative co-funded by Naturvårdsverket for increasing energy efficiency and promote better investments in private homes and associations through knowledge, idea exchange and inspiration.
Solar panels testbed
Downhole heat exchanger in about 20 housing associations
– Climate steering for decreased power requirement
– Strategic partnerships for increased investments
– Urban living lab for future energy systems
– E2B2; a project platform conducting big data analysis for energy efficiency and a virtual forum for knowledge exchange between housing associations.
Matchmaking between cleantech companies and international stakeholders.

System transformation in mobility

Charging electric cars at home (Swedish: Ladda hemma); an initiative co-funded by Naturvårdsverket for increasing the density of charging stations for electric cars with the goal of keeping 1000 active stations in local garages by 2020.
Electric car pools at home
Policy lab for accelerating electrified traffic (initiative with Energiforsk)
All taxis electrified by 2025; residents in housing associations in Hammarby Sjöstad are invited to support Taxi Stockholm’s transformation to electric vehicles by only ordering electric taxis.
Bussplan Stockholm; together with ABB, InfraNode, Siemens, Volvo, Scania and Vattenfall, EC works to promote electric buses in all of Stockholm County. It has now been scaled up on a national level as Bussplan Sverige with Energiforsk as project managing actor.
Digital meeting room; instead of flying to attend meetings, e-limousines pick up and drop off attendants to meetings that are held in Hammarby Sjöstad with high resolution technology and high performance bandwidth. Thus, attendants save time and experience improved quality of life while abstaining from unsustainable travel.
Framework agreements; instead of each housing association purchasing its own particular basic services (such as heating and facility management), all housing associations join together to purchase a particular service from the same supplier. This creates leverage for issuing demands of more sustainable procedures.
Coordinated sustainable transports; about 15 housing associations are coordinating deliveries to reduce the number of transports, while promoting transformation to renewable vehicle energy.
Strategic partnering; 13 housing associations jointly demand a service from a supplier while the supplier states their required profit. As far as both demands are met, other costs are shared within a common project of service delivery.

Snyggt & Tryggt (Nice and Safe)
An initiative for local safety measures, among others involving Nattvandrarna (voluntary night-walking groups).

Sharing Cities
A sharing economy testbed.

EC is also a partner in, among others, sustainable urban innovation programme Viable Cities founded in 2017.

As a large portion of the Stockholm region’s housing stock currently consists of housing associations 2 , the EC model for local commitment has potential for expanding to other parts of the city (Reimersholme, Gamla stan) and other cities (Trollhättan, Jönköping). Although seldom being as organised as Sjöstadsföreningen, housing associations have a good starting point for expanded collaboration in many areas. In any case, the solutions being tested are generalisable and often considered for export. Thus, if successful outcomes from EC were to spread on a larger scale, it
could have massive implications for the realisation of Agenda 2030 (for example regarding energy efficiency and carbon emission reduction) in and outside of Sweden.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The key to driving sustainable development has in the case of Hammarby Sjöstad been to organise oneself into larger contexts. The overarching mission driving the innovation process, i.e. the clear and highly ambitious environmental goals exceeding those of the City of Stockholm, has contributed substantially to results and the innovation process.

Housing associations are characterised by low commitment and a tranquil trust in the free market. Generally, holding a association board’s position is considered a necessary evil or duty rather than an important mission. Furthermore, association boards outsource facility service delivery in order to save time and responsibility. This has, among other things, lead to inefficient housing and facility management. By bringing associations together in strategic partnerships, commitment can be kindled and harnessed to improve local quality of life and continuity in association management. ElectriCITY is thus an example on how to utilise the potentials of local commitment for accelerating sustainable development.

All pilots and tests of solutions need to be financed, not only with in kind contributions but facilities and equipment; this is a constant challenge, also problematising the open question of ownership. Companies have a traditional linear production procedure, in which they ultimately engage lawyers to establish certain exclusive rights over products or services and control of communication. Such routines need to be modified in joint projects.

Engaged partners & stakeholder groups

Civil society: Global utmaning, Sjöstadsföreningen. Research organisations: KTH, RISE, IVL, Energiforsk. Public sector: City of Stockholm Environmental Department, Invest Stockholm.
Public companies: SEK, Vattenfall. Businesses: IBM, Intel, Skanska, Siemens, SBAB, Volvo, Nissan, E-On, JLO Invest, DEFA, Bengt Dahlgren, Enstar, Envac, Hertz, Imek, Infranode, Länsförsäkringar, Charge Amps, Saab, Renault, ABB, Innenco, L&T, NetPort, Xeric, STIK, Teyi, Taxi Stockholm, Veidekke, HSB, Sweco, CyclEurope, BoTrygg, Stockholm Cleantech.
Architect firms: Tengbom, White, Atrium Ljungberg. Other: Teknikföretagen, Riksbyggen.

Further reading

Hammarby Sjöstad 2.0



Södertälje Science Park emerged as a consequence of huge medical producer Astra Zeneca in 2012 choosing to phase out its vast research operations based in Södertälje. To not lose its well-educated workforce and to maintain a positive growth speed in the area, the local governance wanted to promote the science park by investing in new business categories. Södertälje Municipality is mostly known for having a large first and second-generation immigrant population and for its industrial legacy. However, the area also has a tradition of ecological farming, foodstuff production and foodstuff research spanning much of the 20th century. One of the municipality’s objectives was therefore to add another brand to the area, i.e. sustainable food production. Already in 2001 Södertälje municipality had taken a political decision to use public meals as an instrument for sustainable development, which later led to a cooperation with the research project BERAS (Baltic Ecological Recycling Agriculture and Societies). Södertälje Municipality decided to initiate the Matlust project as a part of the Södertälje Science Park.

Good practices & solutions

Matlust has engaged numerous local SMEs in accelerating and innovating their production using locally grown foods. One of them began to re-cultivate the more or less forgotten gråärtor (“grey peas”), similar to chic peas, which were subsequently used for making falafel. Hen meat, primarily used for animal fodder but well suited for human meals, was also introduced in a pita roll named Södertäljerullen (the “Södertälje Roll”) developed by famous chef Mattias Dahlgren of Grand Hôtel.

On the social level, Matlust has to a limited extent managed to introduce unemployed local residents to their food SMEs and also giving them job opportunities of making rolls at promotive events. Different kinds of local SMEs usually consist of either mainly immigrants or mainly swedes, but through Matlust, they have been given the opportunity of meeting one another more frequently than before. The independently running Södertälje project Map 2020 provided the connection of unemployment assistance to Matlust.

LEAN is being used through KTH Leancenter as a tool for developing the operations of participating SMEs. LEAN is a re-structuring of operational procedures that considers the individual’s knowledge and values when creating new workflows and a more efficient work environment.

The degree of making individual residents and citizens co-creative participants seems to have been limited. The food is being tested in school kitchens, kindergartens and care centers using enquiries for participants. Rather, each SME functions as a testbed with a certain level of creative freedom to explore meals and foodstuff, with researchers analysing these testbeds. Researchers have also been interviewing roughly 30 of the participating SMEs and produced a report in 2018.

Outcome & opportunities

Matlust’s vision for future prospects is to establish Södertälje as a regional node of knowledge in food production and sustainability, engaging actors from all societal sectors. Using the results of Matlust and the public meal as a starting point, they hope to be perceived as a regional and maybe nation-wide good example of sustainable production. A stated possible next step is to expand into the whole Mälardalen Region.

Scaling up innovative ways of more resource efficient and socio-ecologically sustainable food production may have considerable lasting impact on climatic effect. Since most public meals are provided to children, it creates the possibility of educating future generations on how to produce in new, sustainable ways.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The amount of available resources makes all the difference. Matlust has had broad political support and prospects of funding on local, regional, national and even EU levels, which contributes to explain their wide and largely successful impact. In addition, local legacies and inherited knowledge has contributed heavily. This means that they have had an ample selection of experts on the issues in question, such as consultants. Matlust consider consultants a valuable asset, since they themselves have not had all the expert knowledge on food production, especially regarding the
process level. A healthy balance between employees and hired experts is advised. As a project lasting 5 years, the aspect of future funding and continued efforts is a pressing matter. The ownership is also a difficult question. It is not self-evident that Södertälje Municipality would be the most relevant partner steering the process of establishing the area as a node for sustainable food innovation. If the local governance would still be the major leading (and funding) part, the question of what’s in it for the taxpayers demands concrete response.

Engaged partners & stakeholder groups

Matlust: Södertälje Municipality, local SMEs, KTH, Saltå kvarn, Acturum Biovation, Södertälje Science Park, Destination Södertälje, chefs.

Further reading


Elastiska Hem (Elastic Homes)

Elastiska Hem is an innovation and research project that explores diverse forms of shared living and shared economy in local housing areas.


Sweden needs to reduce consumption, energy and material use while managing an alarming housing shortage, while simultaneously preventing non-voluntary loneliness
and fostering a strong social capital in growing cities. One particular challenge is the high percentage of single households, especially prevalent in Stockholm. For architects, used to being assigned contracts for conventional housing construction with isolated single households, this challenge may appear out of their reach. Kod Arkitekter decided to initiate Elastiska Hem as a way of exploring alternative housing solutions in a society demanding increased sharing in terms of living and consuming. The home is a powerful base from which to perform experiments of sustainable lifestyles, and architecture is an important tool for achieving this. As architects, Kod Arkitekter are used to co-create their results with other professions, but the user’s role – i.e., that of the resident – is seldom emphasised in their daily work. As new innovations are needed to overcome today’s complex housing challenges, the Elastiska Hem project was deemed a productive response to Kod Arkitekter’s perceived frustration over status quo procedures in construction, planning and housing design.

Good practices & solutions

Elastiska Hem is considered a user-centered and co-creative process focussing on using a large variety of knowledge and experience to develop and test prototypes iteratively with and for the individuals who are supposed to inhabit the new housing areas developed during the project. Consciously designing this process entails letting go of much of the otherwise centrally conducted project management, instead spreading responsibilities and power over the process to a number of working packages, each with their own participating and steering actors, albeit not independent of the project. Service designers were picked out as participants at an early stage in order to achieve as user-centered a perspective as possible.

Whereas the process itself, out of perceived necessity, is rigorously structured from the beginning, the methodology is explored along the way. No existing concrete methods has been tested; rather, tools have been utilized according to the needs of project participants and users. Testing various methods is considered part of the process. However, a substantial part of the methodology so far could be directly found in Design Thinking and various design process tools. Also, scenario sketching and design fiction methods are utilized.

Prototypes and results will be employed in three different cases operating on three different societal levels; structural level, area level and neighbourhood level, which ensures that the project’s potential for societal impact is more easily realised. Keeping up to date with news and innovation in housing policies is key; participating company Kairos Future is conducting a business strategic planning on a national and international level in order to bring as much knowledge as possible into the process.

Outcome & opportunities

“One should not underestimate the importance of the home in building social

The vast scope of Elastiska Hem enables creating impact in several complex societal challenge areas; lack of housing, reducing consumption, loneliness and mental health, as well as strengthening social capital in local areas. The economic perspective is also somewhat present; it is already suggested that 10% of the population wants to share more within their housing context, which suggests that there is a market ready to scale the outcomes and models created during the project. There is also a possible step 3 in the funding programme, in which the housing companies would be willing to expand the results into larger prototypes and actual buildings and apartments, ready for people to move in to. However, there is no ambition to influence existing housing legislation, but rather to utilize the given system in order to change behavior and habits of living.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The challenge driven innovation programme of Vinnova is considered a valuableasset, as it allows for much creativity regarding problem formulation. Also, the UN SDGs provide a common language and set of concepts created for working with the given issues. These are two of the more structural mitigating factors. On a more operational level, an important prerequisite for Elastiska Hem is to approach actors with the ability to reach the reality of the user. Instead of focussing on organisations, it is important to consider the individuals working within these organisations, as the co-creation process is always heavily influenced by particular personal thoughts, competences and chemistry.

The administrative aspect may be less obvious, but is nevertheless an obstructing factor; it is a “horror scenario” for any project manager to coordinate the economy of such a diverse project. However, as Elastiska Hem is a pre-defined, carefully structured process, this significantly helps the coordinating effort. To have 60 individuals working in a randomly ongoing process would be unlikely to yield valuable outcomes, says Åsa Kallstenius, project manager.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

Bio Bo, BoKlok Housing, Bo Tillsammans, Boverket, City of Stockholm, Ebab, Ericsson, Fastighetsägarna Stockholm, Hyresgästföreningen, Igeia Health Labs, Kairos Future, Kollektivhus Nu,
KTH (Architecture, Green Leap), Stena Fastigheter, Stiftelsen Tryggare Sverige, Södertörn University, Telge Bostäder, Trygg-Hansa, Usify, Vitec.

Further reading

Elastiska Hem



Cleantech Högdalen is a cluster of environmental technology businesses in the Stockholm industrial suburb of Högdalen and run as a project and budgetary assignment from the City of Stockholm. It was founded by Tillväxtverket (Board of Enterprises), Vinnova (Board of Innovation), Stockholm Cleantech, IVL, Svensk Solenergi, Science Partner, Högdalsgruppen and the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. Despite initial lack of interest from local actors, Cleantech Högdalen managed to establish testbeds such as organic waste management development. Throughout the project, a network of more than 100 private and public enterprises focussing on sustainable energy, systems integration and energy optimisation has been established.


Local property owners in Högdalen prospected for new ways of improving existing buildings in innovative ways. Cleantech Högdalen decided to test indoors cultivation of food products, since this concept was largely unexplored in Stockholm. While the promotion of green technologies and local businesses was the main objective, a driving vision was also to create job opportunities for people with professional disadvantages while creating prerequisites for more sustainable food production. Thus, Odlande Stadsbasarer was initiated in 2017, cultivating greens in abandoned
facilities in central Högdalen.

Good practices & solutions

In 2016, the municipality of Botkyrka had intended, with support from Vinnova, a pilot of cultivation in garage buildings, but had soon withdrawn due to highly calculated costs. Learning by their example, Odlande Stadsbasarer made sure only to use existing and unused buildings in order to keep down expenses. From an early stage, dialogue within the consortium was centered around recognizing approaches and operations with positive results and then cautiously scaling these up. Enterprises with sufficient financial capacity would cover their own expenses and risks when overtaking property targeted for growing, since it was considered unsustainable to demand this risk to be taken by public actors.

Furthermore, moving from a general business innovation approach to a more particular focus on each involved enterprise proved more feasible. Keeping the main focus of supporting local business and commerce innovation, rather than “improving the world”, has also guided the project.

KTH researchers investigated the results with regards to sustainable cultivation. Participating actors were left free to communicate and promote their efforts, sometimes in isolation and other times in collaboration.

Outcome & opportunities

The project established a small-scale underground food cultivation in Högdalen, using and selling its products in local establishments. The entire project in Stockholm and Helsingborg has contributed to employment of 10 people, 2 have gained employment in Högdalen as a result of the project.

Region Stockholm’s Growth and Regional Planning Department has given financial support to Invest Stockholm for investigating whether 10% of Stockholm’s food production could be realised in a similar fashion.

Possible scaling up will first show pilots of the project and promote the philosophy behind urban indoors food cultivation and then evolve into testbeds. Other future plans include the establishment of a local and vibrant co-working space, combining Food Tech and Clean Tech.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Co-creating innovation driven collaboration in itself was deemed a considerable challenge by the organising partners, above all the prospect of creating something previously unexplored. Coordinating the consortium demanded high levels of openness and letting go of prestige. The other main challenges concerned knowledge and acceptance. KTH, SLU (and Swedish research in general) had scarce experience of investigating the concept of urban gardening, although it is a vital part of many international urban regions such as Singapore. Few actors, public or private, allow for or support progressive development of property or estate. The public sector is also not considered a frontrunner for innovation in general, which creates a stepping stone for scaling up the project.

Funding agencies such as Vinnova could support projects further, i.e. by using recommendations from previous technological insights. Public social authorities or researchers are the actors best suited for calculating the socio-economical pros and cons of a project such as Odlande stadsbasarer. It is also highly advised to map international urban systems and urban policies in general to see what is going on in with regards to sustainable innovation without assuming that Stockholm is at the forefront – which is far from always the case.

Engaged partners & stakeholder groups

Invest Stockholm, KTH, Rågsveds folkets hus, Citycon, City of Stockholm, SLU, local residents, local
start-ups, CleanTech Högdalen.

Further reading

Odlande stadsbasarer

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


Leader is a method for rural development elaborated in the 1990’s, also useable in urban areas. The leading principle is to make local communities participants in developing their future. A specific area or region can choose to become a Leader area, of which there are currently 48 existing in Sweden. Each area has a central office to which local cross-sectorial development and innovation projects can apply for funding and support. An earlier Leader development project in the Stockholm Region, UROSS (Utveckla Roslagen och Stockholms Skärgård, “Developing the Roslagen Area and the Stockholm Archipelago”) 2007-2013, effectively utilised Leader and confirmed its potential for creating local participatory initiatives and hope for the future.


The Stockholm archipelago, with its roughly 30 000 islands (of which about 200 are inhabited), together with the vast rural areas surrounding the city comprise a substantial part of the Stockholm Region. The archipelago alone hosts around 3 million tourists every year. Much of the region’s wildlife, green areas, cultural heritage and nature reserves are located in these areas. Although sparsely populated, with a total of 113 991 stable residents in 2014, of which only 7 348 lived on the islands all year round, the countryside and archipelago together comprise around 5% of the total regional population. However, these areas are generally overlooked while facing major social and ecological sustainability challenges. Tourism has dramatically raised estate prices, especially in the archipelago. Establishing stable internet connections is still a challenge in most areas. The large local fishing business is challenged due to previously  unsustainable draft. Unemployment is relatively low in the archipelago (est. 2,5 % in 2014) but dramatically higher in the inland rural areas (est. 17% in 2011). The access to public services in the Stockholm archipelago is generally considered to be equally remote as in some northern parts of Sweden (Norrbotten).

Out of the 50 Swedish islands regarded as depopulated in 2013, 22 were located in the Stockholm Region.  In conclusion, the residents of the archipelago and rural areas of Stockholm are in need of empowerment in order to strengthen their own local businesses as well as creating feasible and sustainable living conditions.

Leader Stockholmsbygd was initiated in 2014 as a development project and non-profit organisation envisioning “an archipelago and a countryside in which local initiatives, interacting with the surrounding world, develop sustainable and attractive societies, spreading hope for the future.” It was approved in 2016 by the Swedish Board of Agriculture, meaning that Leader Stockholmsbygd was officially one of 48 approved Leader areas.

Good practices & solutions

Priority efforts for Leader Stockholmsbygd are the development of a local community attractive to visitors and inhabitants, promoting local foodstuffs and markets, creating a good environment and increasing sustainability. One aim is to further diversify the local community and its actors through increased collaboration around distribution of local products and services, logistics and marketing. This will also entail increased knowledge exchange and new meeting fora among the actors and with the surrounding world. Finally, a particular goal is to increase local knowledge about ecosystem services and sustainable development in order to strengthen the biological diversity of land and sea in the concerned areas.

The project/non-profit association functions mainly as a central resource of support for locally initiated projects. These projects are able to apply for funding and are supported in this process. Approval of funding depends on a set of criteria as a broader benefit to the leader area, locally-based approach and participation, collaboration with other stakeholders and sectors and last but not least contribution to one of four focus areas (smart villages, tourism, local food production and marine/nature conservation). Once approved, projects can receive investment funding as well as network building support, since Leader Stockholmsbygd has knowledge about potential collaborators. Leader Stockholmsbygd explicitly states a desire to promote cross-sectorial collaboration, diversity and synergies between stakeholders.

In 2014, 13 bygdemöten- meetings with local neighborhoods – were held, in total attracting around 140 participants. Participants included fishing associations, SME associations, neighbourhood associations, environmental activists, sports clubs, womens’ associations, farmers and local branches of Naturskyddsföreningen, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. During each meeting, a SWOT analysis was made to guide the discussions about needs and possibilities for future efforts.

Potential initiatives included increased local food production, tourism development, local investment companies, more rental apartments and recreational activities. Leader professionals are the target group of a particular academic course offered by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), in English “Innovation – coaching innovative processes”.

Outcome & opportunities

The whole area has a rich tradition of voluntary associations, family and small-scale businesses and social entrepreneurs. A certain self-made mentality pervades the area and its people. Instead of public meeting spaces, the civil society offers the most scenes for dialogue and community. Also, being a close neighbour to Sweden’s largest urban centre does provide certain opportunities that can be exploited further. As tourists are already numerous, an increased profiling of locally and organically grown foods could be further marketed to the environmentally aware urban consumers or attract visitors. Further use of digital marketing is considered especially beneficial to these areas, since they lack sufficient infrastructure. Being a more niched, entrenched and accessible project partner to stakeholders, Leader Stockholmsbygd has an advantage over other EU funds.

Lessons learned & recommendations

As the project attempts to grasp a diverse and wide area, the conditions for enabling local initiatives vary significantly. For example, the level of commitment and resourcefulness usually decreases with proximity to urban areas, as responsibility is expected from other actors rather than the local community. Due to budget restraints, LEADER Stockholmsbygd does not have the capacity to create a common platform for the different initiatives to meet and exchange knowledge. Lack of investment for local initiatives is  common. As mentioned in the above section, local investment funds is framed as a general alternative to applying for investment from larger actors. The younger generation is generally considered difficult to engage, partly due to the perceived lack of future possibilities, the main challenge in this regard not being work opportunities per se, but rather the lack of accessible societal services and housing. Involving a sufficiently large number of local actors is key. A well-balanced mix of required expertise is usually present in most areas. Balancing the local and global aspects is particularly difficult. Local residents need a stronger sense of community while achieving stronger bonds with and openness towards the rest of the world. If this is not achieved, matters will not move forward.

Related SDG targets


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



Process and policy development project for joint building ventures.


Current Swedish housing construction is a complex process, usually spanning at least 3-4 years, involving municipalities and a handful of building contractors at the very least but, perhaps more delicate, requiring the participating construction companies to co-finance the process long before the first buildings have been erected. Alternatives to this system are rarely tested, which risks jeopardising the well-needed acceleration in sustainable construction over the next decades for the rapidly growing Stockholm region. Moreover, although housing may indeed be satisfyingly built, procured companies may be less keen to secure a diverse and equal community and functioning local services for the residents. When comparing Sweden with, for example, Germany, where alternatives such as joint building ventures (Swedish: byggemenskap, henceforth JBV) are well prominent, there is a perceived need of experimenting and developing policies concerning housing and construction in order to improve the prerequisites for a just and sustainable city.

JBV is a model in which users – the intended residents of a house or neighbourhood – participate in the planning process as a co-operative society and exercise influence over all or most of the decisions. They are currently rare in Sweden and are also largely unknown to the banks that can fund them. Individual co-operative societies usually lack the sufficient funds and organisational stability to be regarded as reliable project partners from the perspective of Vinnova. Instead, the Society of Joint Building Ventures (Swedish: Föreningen för byggemenskaper) is the coordinating actor of the Divercity project initiated in 2016. The goal of the project is to create leverage for more JBVs in Sweden, using their co-operative societies as testbeds while experimenting with construction process design and construction policy development.

There are several indicators as to why JBVs are worth strengthening. If end users are included from the start, their commitment to the constructed neighbourhood is stronger, promoting a socially sustainable area. Moreover, as end users share the costs of materials and processes, JBVs are more likely to contribute to a resource efficient construction, more lasting materials and thus better potential for sustainable buildings. Furthermore, JBVs potentially constitute an addition to democratic participation in urban development.

Good practices & solutions

“What we seek to achieve requires several actors”

Co-creation between architects, urban planners, joint building venture co-operatives and researchers is a fundamental feature of the process. The project has 18 organisations participating altogether and the various stakeholder groups had hitherto had limited understanding of one another, which demands a conscious process design in order to guide each actor towards a common vision. Several workshops have been conducted to foster a common view of the challenge and the funding application was written collaboratively. There is also a regularly maintained ambition to involve stakeholders – the co-operatives – on the same terms as project partners in the co-creation process, as they are formally asymmetrically involved due to Vinnova’s requirements.

There is, moreover, a generally accepted view among the participants that a process needs to be framed by a particular methodology. In order to facilitate co-creation, the Step Dialogue is used, a process design allowing several spaces for reflection individually and in groups, gradually aiding the participants in becoming more conscious about their common core values guiding the process and their main objectives.

During step 1, a process description was developed, providing an initial overview of what needs to be done in order to realise a construction project with JBVs. The description is partially used as a supporting tool for architects, often unused to working with JBVs, but primarily for the municipalities to better understand their own operational conditions. The description covers core issues for the project, such as regulations excluding JBVs and important steps included in construction processes. It is used as a basis for step 2, in which the JBVs become testbeds for trying out various solutions and evaluating the JBVs’ potential for sustainable urban development, while municipalities are experimenting with policy labs. RISE is responsible for these policy labs as well as evaluating the JBVs and their role in sustainability aspects, whereas researchers from KTH are conducting evaluation research, for example jointly with the City of Stockholm. One notable case is the city’s pilot project Fokus Skärholmen, in which one land assignment is designated for testing a JBV project.

Divercity uses a bottom-up perspective, in which different working packages deliver output to a steering group assigned with the task of developing and spreading jointly created knowledge within the project.

Outcome & opportunities

The main long-term potential for the project, if successfully conducted and scaled, is a systemic change of Swedish housing construction policies, in which end users participate and influence the process on a broader scale than previously known.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The constellation and choice of participating actors is crucial and needs to be consciously thought-through, with particular regard to achieving a satisfying breadth of expertise. Involving the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) gives Divercity a credibility otherwise not gained, member-governed bank Ekobanken provides the financial perspective and Coompanion contribute their expertise on and experience from all forms of co-operative organisations.

Utilising these different knowledges separately needs to work parallel to establishing a common ground between all actors, as well as each part acquiring a driving force on their own as a result of appreciating the common benefits of the project.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

Alsikebolaget, Nils Söderlund Architects, Boverket, Coompanion, Ekobanken, Föreningen för Byggemenskaper, City of Gothenburg, inobi, KTH, City of Malmö, omniplan, Orust kommun, Region Gotland, RISE, Röd arkitektur, City of Stockholm, Theory Into Practice, Uppsala Municipality.

Further reading

Theory into practice 

Rinkebyresan: Yalla Projektet & Yalla 2.0


Rinkeby is one of Stockholm’s most stigmatised suburbs due to a long-lived legacy and image of unemployment, segregation, violence and crime fastened onto its image. This is as much a long-lived reputation as it is a reality. Unemployment rates are more than double that of the Stockholm average (7,1% in relation to 3%); the average wage is 236 200 SEK per year (the Stockholm average being 363 700 SEK). Furthermore, wages are particularly low for women (the average in Rinkeby-Kista city district being 206 300 SEK), around 57% of the wage of the average Stockholm resident. In 2010, Rinkeby was ranked as having the 4th highest crime report among city districts with low income and education in Sweden, well above the national average (more than 200 reported crimes per 1000 inhabitants, as compared to the national average number of 125).

One of the owners of family-owned housing company ByggVesta, U.S.-born Laurie McDonald Jonsson, became aware of Rinkeby’s socio-economic challenges when planning investments in construction of rental apartments in the area in 2014. This construction process was part of a larger development programme, involving a total of 225 rental units in the area while covering the E18 main road running next to Rinkeby. McDonald Jonsson declared that if ByggVesta was to invest in housing in Rinkeby, merely building and maintaining a stand of apartments was not going to be enough; an investment in social sustainability was likewise necessary.

Good practices & solutions

First, Byggvesta conducted a customer survey to residents in Rinkeby reaching around 1000 respondents and made several additional visits to the area to learn more about the needs and wishes of residents. Following that, ideas for a project aimed at confronting local challenges were brought forward from residents. Finally, during Sweden’s National Holiday in 2014, residents were able to vote for one of several ideas to be realised with the aid of ByggVesta. There was a strong demand for a new niche for local unemployed women – many of whom have children – at becoming more self-dependent. A majority of Rinkeby’s inhabitants have either migrated from or are children of migrants from various countries outside Europe. Ultimately, inspiration was taken from Yalla Trappan in the suburb of Rosengård in Malmö that has similar demographics and socio-economic challenges; the idea was to start a co-operative enterprise of women from Rinkeby cooking and catering food emanating from the countries and food traditions that they have experience from.

ByggVesta hired a project manager and initiated a PPP-style project; funding was granted by Tillväxtverket while Coompanion provided expertise in co-operative social enterprises and project management. Local social entrepreneur Blå Vägen, performing education of local unemployed and helping them reach the job market, also added an extra layer of local knowledge about particular challenges and needs of the target group.

ByggVesta itself had a large network of relevant partners for Yalla Rinkeby from the start, facilitating challenges of gaining funding and proper expertise needed for the task. Using these contacts is seen as essential to the conduction of the programme. Coompanion, itself a co-operatively owned consultance firm, specialises in supporting work-integrating social enterprises (Swedish: ASF). Among their commonly used tools for this is etableringsanalys, establishment analysis or feasibility assessment. A private language educational company provided 4,3 h of Swedish lessons each week to participants in Yalla Rinkeby, since some of the participants did not speak the language. Other activities for long term impact include CV workshops, a Swedish-only policy in the kitchen area, practical education in professional kitchen procedures and catering and education in digital tools. Knowledge on sustainable food production, raw foods and healthy living is also added as part of the education, provided by an employee of ByggVesta with expertise in local small-scale cultivation (Swedish: kolonilotter) at Järvafältet green area.

The food production and marketing proved an easy aspect of Yalla Rinkeby: “The food is selling itself”. Yalla Rinkeby was represented at the local Järva Politikervecka in June (established in 2017), a forum for political, public, private and civil organisations to exchange knowledge and discussions.

Outcome & opportunities Yalla-projektet

A survey aimed at the participants shows that 6 out of 7 goals were met or exceeded expectations. The goal that was not met stated that 30 participants should take part in project activities whereas the outcome was 26.

Statements from participating women show that they experience higher knowledge, empowerment and self esteem with regards to working life. Furthermore, the project has provided them with a sense of community and social capital amongst each other.

Yalla 2.0 started in January 2019 – a Tillväxtverket funded project in order to expand Yalla Rinkeby. The goal is to be able to train 40 women per year. Furthermore, a Yalla Café will be opened in Rinkeby to reach more customers and increase profit for the co-operative. Another stated goal is to further support ecological values by educating actors within Yalla Rinkeby and promoting local cultivation. The idea is that Yalla Café will be a destination café that attracts all Stockholmers. From a PPP perspective, ByggVesta as a housing organisation has been enriched with knowledge of societal sectors and branches that they hitherto did not possess, e.g. further strengthening their expertise in designing spaces and facilities, but also marketing strategies. “In the beginning, this would seem like an odd business for a housing company … [but] now many want to work with us!”.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The Swedish Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) is a key actor for initiatives such as Yalla Rinkeby; however, it was a challenge to recruit participants in the start of the project. A good collaboration with The Swedish Employment Agency is very important in order to secure the long-term business model for projects such as Yalla Rinkeby. Allowing the business model to evolve into a long term sustainable solution needs to take its time. ByggVesta has more than a 100 year perspective for its property and would be happy to see Yalla thrive alongsside that timeline.The dependence on individuals is ever-present in PPPs like Yalla Rinkeby; it is necessary to clarify designated contact persons and their roles at an early stage as well as continuously throughout the process. Commitment is easy to find, consistency less easy; therefore, expectations need to be realistic and clearly expressed, with regards to both partners and participants.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

Rinkebyresan: ByggVesta, local residents.

The Yalla project: ABF, Berlitz, Blå Vägen, ByggVesta, Coompanion, Ericsson, Familjebostäder, Koncept Stockholm, women in Rinkeby. Huddinge, Sollentuna, Solna, Stockholm and Sundbyberg Municipalities.

Yalla 2.0: ByggVesta, ComHem, Coompanion, Electrolux, Stockholms Samordningsförbund, Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan, Swedish Employment Agency, unemployed women, World Chefs. All municipalities in Stockholm County.

Further reading

Yalla Rinkeby


Smart Kreativ Stad

EU regional development project for film in sustainable urban development


The film industry in Stockholm is, in some ways, a neglected business, with most of its performers suffering from short-term contracts and low wages. Moreover, the business of distributing film has changed significantly during the recent 5-10 years, demanding new ways of exploring deployment of film vis-à-vis audiences. Simultaneously, it is a diverse field of production and co-creation, as it needs to accommodate a vast range of talents and knowledges in order to function. Beata Mannheimer from the regional film foundation, Film Capital Stockholm, realised the potential of this creative industry in transforming the urban public spaces when Tillväxtverket announced their funding programme for regional urban development.

Stockholm has the potential of being a more open and inclusive region by using its public spaces. The challenge from which the project Smart Kreativ Started was, thus: How can film be used to promote sustainable urban development?

Good practices & solutions

Prior to the launching of Smart Kreativ Stad, a pre-study was conducted in which actors such as Kista Science City, IBM, game developer Dice and other stakeholders in the film business were approached. The inclusion of knowledge into the subsequent project was managed so that anyone could apply to the board of Smart Kreativ Stad for funding with an idea for a pilot project, whether as an individual artist or as a team. The project has thus been divided into smaller pilot projects during 2-3 years. Finally, a scaling and expansion phase will carry on 5 themes into further implementation, while additionally implementing the project’s outcomes within the organisation of Film Capital Stockholm itself. A participatory researcher has been following the process during the total course of the project.

 Outcome & opportunities

To manage working conditions for film creators, a pool for obtaining work opportunities has been realised during the project. The diverse results and knowledges produced during the project are planned to be spread to a wider audience and implemented in urban development processes, thus potentially contributing to a city with improved leisure and safety levels. A number of meeting forums have emerged between citizens of different areas, but also between different societal actors.

 Lessons learned & recommendations

Breaking perspectives is an important prerequisite for co-creation and collaboration in this type of project. Working in lab formats creates a learning environment for all involved, including the ones leading the process. However, everything cannot and should not be connected all the time; certain processes need to be isolated in order to flourish, depending on participants and specific prerequisites.

Regarding urban planning, Smart Kreativ Stad have identified a lack of “soft” and “human” value methods in current standard procedures. Another interesting realisation is that the movie business harbours an inherently well-prepared workforce regarding participatory dialogue. Documentary movie-makers are well used to these types of processes and therefore pose a great potential for future urban development. The movie business, in general, has substantial experience and potential for co-creation between a relatively vast range of disciplines. However, actors in cultural industries are known to regard themselves as underdogs towards “stronger” actors, such as municipalities and corporations.

Conducting such a complex process entails that communication needs to be shared among several actors, not only the coordinators. Results and progress also need to correspond to actual, established needs, otherwise nothing productive will come out of it. Building trust, in this regard and generally, is a constant challenge; speaking the same language (as in vocabulary and discourse), agreeing on basic values and problem definitions and having shared time schedules are crucial prerequisites. The civil sector can be quite fast in decision-making compared to public organisations, for example, which demands that every actor works in alternative ways to some extent. A valuable concept mentioned during the interview was förväntansavklaring (English: clarification of expectations), describing an essential process of transparent planning in the early stage of the project.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

City of Stockholm, Film Capital Stockholm, individual film creators, KTH, Nacka Municipality, Stena fastigheter, White arkitekter.

Further reading


Smart kreativ stad


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