I was born in 1971, the same year as Norway introduced the ten Oil commandments – a Declaration of Principles for Norwegian oil policy, and the very foundation of how we have built up a pole position as a leading oil and gas nation the past 45 years.
The North Sea became our incubator creating the largest pension fund in the world – but in 2014 we got a serious wake-up call – when the oil prices tanked.
And when the oil prices tanked, it is serious for our national economy, where oil and gas represented 21% of our GDP in 2013, one third of the funding of the national statebudget and appx 50% of our export income – oil and gas income is fueling a vital part of the Norwegian society.
Now we need to redefine the content of our next pole position – it’s not enough to live off of what we already have, we need to create a more diversified national economy to bring us in to a sustainable future. But how?
In 2015 we got the direction. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (signed by all 192 UN member states).
This agenda, a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity is an excellent framework for setting direction on solving global challenges. Our very own prime minister Mrs Erna Solberg has been given a leading advocacy role for the 2030 agenda by the UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon.
This agenda includes 17 Goals, goals like clean energy and sustainable cities and communities. These goals also represent new business opportunities, for any country, company or industry. For Norway, this is great news when we’re transforming our national economy.
Here’s an example: Smart cities and societies, a historic stand-alone goal no 11.
The largest urban growth takes place in India, China and Nigeria, and nearly half of global GDP growth between 2010 and 2025 will come from 440 cities in emerging markets—95 percent of them small- and medium-size cities that many Western executives may not even have heard of and couldn’t point to on a map.
According to McKinsey the pace of Indian urbanization is 3,000 times the impact of the UK industrial revolution: they are moving 10 times faster with 300 times as many people.
With 2 billion more expected to live in urban areas in the next 30 years, how we build our cities will determine nothing less than the future of life on earth.
This is because cities account for around 80% of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
In the energy sector alone, information and communication technology can reduce its emission by 7 billion tons of CO2 equivalent by 2020.
Overall this industrial revolution can add $15 trillion dollar to the global economy. Norway can for sure position our technology and solutions in this area. Like the Urban Water Shuttle.
Norway has been a shipbuilder-nation for centuries, and now it’s an ongoing shift toward electric and hybrid ship designs.
In January this year the world’s first electric ferry started operating in Norway’s Sognefjord - The Urban Water Shuttle - an energy-efficient, high-speed vessel concept for passenger transport. The vessel will be built in low weight and sustainable materials like aluminum, propelled using the latest low- and zero emission energy storage technologies.
Can you imagine the potential for this urban vessel in the urbanization of China and India?
Because the world is our market. In Asia alone we find 49 countries, 4.4 billion people. It is obvious that a small economy and nation like Norway with 5.2 million people needs access to a global market. But is it obvious what we can bring to the table?
Do they know what we have to offer? Have they heard about the The Urban Water Shuttle? Do they know more about Norway than oil, gas, salmon and fjords? Do they know about our innovative high tech clusters in medtech, fintech or edtech?
No, we have a job to do so in 2015, we at Innovation Norway, the Norwegian government agency for business innovation, invited private and public stakeholders and companies, start-ups and NGO’s to a national brainstorm. This exercise was also a response to the Norwegian challenge of replacing more than 100 billion US dollars in lost oil export revenue annually.
The participants helped mapping challenges and opportunities facing Norwegian industry. The mobilization was named The DreamCommittment and was organized over three months, in 82 unique arrangements, all over Norway and abroad together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Through this process, six areas for sustainable economic growth were identified, cross traditional sectors. Areas where Norwegian companies and competences can develop their competitive advantages while contributing solutions to global challenges.
The six areas of opportunities are: bio-economy, clean energy, health and welfare, ocean space, smart societies and creative industries and tourism. These six areas are directly connected to the UN Goals no 6, 7,9, 11, 12, 14, 15 just to mention a few. And the basis are technology, key enabling technologies like:
Micro and nanoelectronics, Industrial biotechnology and Advanced materials.
Based on this work, here are our three recommendations on how we all can boost global economy with SDGs
A country cannot choose to only follow up a subset of the 17 goals, and would have to report on progress for all the goals. But a country can focus on building solutions in specific areas.
We recommend a broad national mobilization, like the Dream commitment process, to prioritize a subset of the goals to pioneer solutions.
This approach will empower each country to focus on opportunities inherent to its available natural resources, capabilities and technologies, in order to spearhead corresponding solutions.
Secondly, a strong national brand for the future should also be based on the vision of moving the world in the right direction.
Thirdly, if the SDGs could become a basis for demand worldwide, developing solutions for the goals would open up a whole new market for sustainable businesses to cooperate with public institutions.
At the United Nations General Assembly week in New York, The Sustainia initiative, originated in Denmark, launched a global collaborative platform for communicating solutions for the goals. Sustainia has identified 100 readily available sustainable solutions. We need to further develop a marketplace like Sustainia to make sure the solutions we create can be implemented and shared.
But how can we mainstream it even further to reach consumers and the public? At a national and global level?
Thought leadership in business is rapidly evolving. An emerging businessworthy mindset is moving sustainability focus from sacrifice to opportunity. The Oslo Business for Peace Award, awarded to outstanding business leaders by Nobel laureates in Economics and Peace after a global bottom up process, has been created to promote businessworthy thinking and action.
Maybe we can lift the concept of SDG’s to an even higher level. Like a young female entrepreneur in Norway, Sara Fosstvedt has suggested, to use the 17 goals to come together and compete on more areas than sport?
Pierre de Coubertins’ original idea for the Olympic games was raising the individual and contribute to harmony in society. Could we use the dynamics of gamification to reach a wider crowd, and create entertainment, sustainable growth and businessworthy next practices, at the same time, in the form of a Global Goals Games?
So Mr Michael Bloomberg, you are a game changer, a worldwide best- and next-practice rolemodel, the 108th Mayor of New York City, why not be the very first to disrupt the Olympics and open the world’s first Global Goals Game 2020?