Solving the challenges of the 21st century with Nordic approach

Are the Nordic countries leaders or laggards in innovation? This was a key question this Friday in the Kenney Auditorium at SAIS Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC, where the new book and research initiative "Nordic Ways" was launched.

The research stress, that the Nordic countries might hold the clues to solving the threats and challenges of the 21st Century such as urbanisation and climate change. Keynote speaker Mette Søs Lassesen, Market Director at Ramboll Environ, explained how Ramboll tries to bring a long a Nordic innovation model when operating outside of their Nordic Domains:

"We do this by being transparent in terms of our focus and our beliefs, maintaining our integrity and being honest. By looking out for the broader goal and by arguing against set opinions and norms", she explained and continued:

"We believe that by maintaining the democratic tradition – the strongest argument wins - we are also well positioned to learn from other cultures and more open to new and innovative ways of solving the challenges at hand".

"Nordic Ways" is a research initiative of the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) at SAIS Johns Hopkins University. it explores various business, cultural, and societal aspects of what it means to be Nordic and how these "ways" might serve to inspire in a US context. The initiative is sponsored by the Ramboll Foundation.

A Nordic approach is a holistic approach
Keynote speaker Mette Søs Lassesen further explained how Ramboll is deeply involved in innovative projects relating to urbanisation, Climate Change, and resource scarcity such as climate adaptation projects in Copenhagen and NYC, mobility solutions throughout the Nordics, and sustainable energy projects across the World, including district energy, which is also starting to gain traction also in North America.

But why is innovation happening in these projects?
"There are a few characteristics: A holistic approach where we also look at cost-benefits in the wider, societal sense, a long-term commitment to create long lasting solutions and changes and democratic point of departure, and truly believing that all stakeholders can provide valuable input".

These traits may not be particularly Nordic, but they are part of the Nordic heritage. Mette Søs Lassesen explained:

"This has provided for some very unique and liveable cities where climate investment is used as value drivers rather than cost drivers and where all stakeholders are working across silos within new models for governance".

However, the approach can be applied elsewhere, she explained, refering to two climate adaptation projects in Bishan Park in Singapore and New York City.

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