A Chinese delegation wearing yellow vests and hard hats at a sight visit in Norway.

The Nordics and China Collaborate to Make Cities More Sustainable

Urbanisation is well-known as one of the major challenges facing the world when it comes to creating sustainable societies, and few other places is this challenge more prevalent than in China.

China’s ambitions to make their cities more sustainable have grown significantly in recent years, and the country has demonstrated that it is able to take rapid action. The Nordic countries all share the same ambition of making our cities more sustainable, smart and liveable – and have developed internationally recognised solutions for sustainable urban development.

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The transition to greener societies must be done in all parts of the world. We can do more together.

Dagfinn Høybråten, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers

Through the Nordic Sustainable Cities project, Nordic Innovation has facilitated a collaboration with six Chinese cities that has demonstrated an interest in learning from the Nordic region.

As part of this collaboration, a Chinese delegation comprising representatives from the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China Union (Europe) Operations Limited, the Bank of China London Branch and the cities of Jiangsu Yixing, Xiong’an and Chengdu visited Denmark and Norway the last week in September to visit Nordic companies working with sustainable urban development and participate in the Nordic-China Conference at Nordic Edge in Stavanger.

Click here to see photos from the trip.

Demonstrating Nordic solutions to sustainable urban development challenges

The Nordic visit started in Copenhagen at the House of Green hosted by State of Green, where the delegation learned more about Copenhagen’s ambitious plans to become carbon neutral.

Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers Dagfinn Høybråten,welcomed the delegation by highlighting Nordic values like trust, openness, democracy, human rights and sustainability, while recognising the impressive development China has seen in recent years.

“The transition to greener societies must be done in all parts of the world. We can do more together”, said Høybråten, underlining the importance of working together and learning from each other in order to contribute to UN’s Agenda 2030 and reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

In Copenhagen, the delegation went on to visit HOFOR’s district cooling plants, which uses seawater for cooling, as well as BIOFOS Lynetten, Denmark’s largest wastewater treatment plant, and Amager Resource Center’s new waste disposal facility Copenhill, which will feature Europe’s highest climbing wall and a year-round ski slope when it is finished.

After flying to Norway and Stavanger in the evening, the delegation continued their tour the following day with a boat trip in Lysefjorden and a visit to Lysebotn II, a brand new state of the art hydropower plant that began operation earlier in 2018.

Nordic-China Conference at Nordic Edge

The next day, the delegation participated in the Nordic-China Conference at Nordic Edge. The conference was opened by Secretary General Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten before welcoming speeches from Dr. Pengqi Lu, Vice Chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Mr. Liu Weimin, Deputy Director General of European Affairs at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Professor Xinli Zheng from the China Urban-townization Promotion Council (CUPC).

A group photo of Dr. Pengqi Lu, Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten, Professor Xinli Zheng and Mr. Liu Weimin.
From left: Dr. Pengqi Lu, Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten, Professor Xinli Zheng and Mr. Liu Weimin. Photo: Marie von Krogh

“We are very impressed with what the Nordic countries has achieved in sustainable and intelligent growth. You are leading in green energy and innovation, and we have the market and the labour. I hope the Nordics and China can promote sustainable growth hand in hand", said Dr. Pengqi Lu, Vice Chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

Afterwards, there were presentations of Nordic ways of working with urban sustainability. Guðbjörg Lára Másdóttir from Better Reykjavik talked about how they work with citizen participation, Östen Ekengren talked about how the Swedish Environmental Research Institute(IVL) working with waste to energy solutions, Tone Grindland from NHO talked about regional development and smart city solutions before Kaisa Spilling from Forum Virium Helsinki talked about design thinking for cities.

The conference was then summed by Nordic Innovation CEO Svein Berg saying that “the Nordics and the Chinese acknowledge that we need to cooperate to solve our challenges. The sentiment from today is that there is a great will for cooperation. And we have already started”.

Svein Berg on stage summing up the Nordic-China Conference.
Svein Berg summing up the Nordic-China Conference.

Click here to see more photos from the trip and the conference.


Portrait Rasmus Malmborg

Rasmus Malmborg

Senior Innovation Adviser
Rasmus has extensive international experience in complex project management, predominantly within health care system development. Prior to joining Nordic Innovation, Rasmus has been with LHL International for nine years and worked the last four years as CEO.

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Portrait Ivar Josefsson

Ivar Josefsson

Innovation Adviser
Ivar combines his international experience with an environmental background to identify the most promising Nordic projects for achieving sustainable growth. His main strengths lie within the fields of international relations and environment, and he worked briefly in the international development sector prior to joining Nordic Innovation in 2018.

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