While many western countries are accused of high carbon emissions, the Nordics is considered an exception because of its sustainability movement. ...

Nordic sustainability practices that work

While many western countries are accused of high carbon emissions, the Nordics is considered an exception because of its sustainability movement. Nordic corporations, in particular, are often praised for their corporate sustainability activities. What makes this northern region of Europe so different? It’s high time to investigate this advancement of sustainability practices.

According to UNDP reports, India ranked 130th country in their Human Development Indicator (HDI) index where Nordic countries like Norway ranked first, Sweden seventh, Denmark 11th, and Finland 15th.

In this article, S M Abidul Islam reveals four different sustainability practices that yield positive results, both for the business and the world.

Equality works better

In the Nordics, equality in the workplace is taken as a serious subject by both governments and corporations. Swedish furniture company IKEA aims to be the leading example of gender balance in the workplace.

IKEA is working with civil society, government agencies and other stakeholders under the theme ‘equality works better’ since the company believes it can bring about positive change to society.

According to the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap report (2017), Sweden is the 5th most gender equal country in the world. Other Nordic counties, like Iceland, Norway, and Finland, are number 1, 2 and 3 on this list, respectively.

‘Gender Equality’ and ‘Reduction of Inequality’ are part of United Nation’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG). But do you know all 17 SDGs?

Smart technology for sustainable solutions

Smart technology usually refers to machinery that can provide a larger volume of production, but in the Nordics production efficiency alone is not enough to qualify as smart technology. The production process has to be eco-friendly too.

For example, the Finnish marine and energy company Wärtsilä designed smart technology as a way to create a sustainable society. Wärtsilä’s sustainable strategy consists of some important issues, such as:

  • Low water consumption.
  • Renewable energy integration.
  • Long-lasting technology.
  • Low emission level.

The outcome of this strategy benefits both the business and the environment. Furthermore, ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’, ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’, ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure’ are three important SDGs. Most of the Nordic industrial innovations are associated with digital transformation that help Nordic companies make the environment greener.

Provide care where there is none

Several Nordic companies’ CSR activities involve the community, with the purpose to find a better solution where it’s needed. Such initiatives are in line with UN’s sustainable development goal, ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’.

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is one of the world’s leaders in sustainability. Delivering medicine at an affordable price and making the medicine available to a large group of people are at the core of this company’s mission. For example, Novo Nordisk ensures diabetic care of 20,000 children from 14 different low-income countries.

As Novo Nordisk produces medicine, they have to use a large volume of energy and natural resources. For this reason, they introduced their new business strategy that ensures zero environmental impact.

Integrate sustainability in everything

In the Nordics, the current sustainability trend is to not frame this issue separately from the rest of the company’s actions.

On the contrary, companies are eager to transform every process in a sustainable way. Indeed, it permeates everything from the business model to production.

In 2017, Forbes Magazine announced that Norwegian financial service provider company Storebrand ASA was the second most sustainable company in the world. This pension and insurance company committed to reduce the carbon footprint of their investments.

More importantly, Storebrand ASA incorporated Environment, Sustainability, and Corporate Governance (ESG) in most of their work, which include investment analysis and ownership policies.

Other companies than Storebrand ASA are also going through partnership agreements with relevant stakeholders for ensuring global sustainability and for contributing towards the sustainable development goals.


The mission of tying sustainability to business practices has only just begun. How does your company plan to contribute towards achieving the United Nation’s sustainability goals?

To be successful in the future, more companies must challenge their existing business models to make sure they are both sustainable and profitable. Nordic corporations offer inspiration and insights, but there is still a lot of work to be done, and the stakes are high. What role will your organisation play?

S M Abidul Islam