Copenhagen Puts Focus on Sustainability


Copenhagen is committed to being the first carbon-neutral capital in the world by 2025.

Wonderful Copenhagen’s focus on the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Goals is attracting like-minded events.

By Vicky Koffa, Boardroom

Both the local government and the residents of Copenhagen are committed to being the first carbon-neutral capital in the world by 2025. And Wonderful Copenhagen, the city’s official tourism and convention organization, is in lockstep with that goal. The CVB has launched the Tourism for Good strategy with a goal to allow tourism to have a positive impact on sustainable development both locally and globally by 2030.

The bar for the vision is set high, following the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but International Green Key–certified hotels, third-party eco-certified congress centers, more than 400 kilometers (nearly 250 miles) of bike lanes, and an international airport certified with the Airport Carbon Accreditation program are proof of Copenhagen’s intent.

Wonderful Copenhagen leads by example with an annual conference it organizes, Tomorrow’s Urban Travel, which not only discusses the responsible future of tourism, but this year put nine sustainability initiatives into place. One of those efforts was to spell out the CO2 calculations on the food served.

“Food is a major overlooked source of carbon emissions,” the conference program said. “Especially meat production is a big contributor to global warming. Don’t worry — you will still have a choice of meat. But we will calculate the CO2 emission on the different food choices and show you the results. Then you can make up your mind about what to eat.”

“Our target is that Wonderful Copenhagen is the primary source in the industry for knowledge on sustainable tourism,” said Bettina Reventlow-Mourier, deputy convention director of Wonderful Copenhagen. “We will develop general guidelines for congresses in the city on how to further develop and produce sustainable events, and we will individually enable them on how to integrate this into their activities.”

On the Same Mission

Copenhagen’s focus on sustainability meshes with international associations whose mission is to find viable solutions for the world’s cities. For example, the International Water Association (IWA) has chosen Copenhagen for its 2020 World Water Congress and Exhibition, themed “Water for smart liveable cities.” Copenhagen was a draw for IWA, as the city combines world-leading and trans-sectorial water research, smart integrated water solutions, groundwater is drinkable directly from the tap, and thanks to efficient waste water treatment, the harbor has been returned clean to its people for use.

The International Union of Architects (UIA) also chose Copenhagen for its 2023 World Congress of Architects. Held every three years, this is the first time the congress will be hosted in Scandinavia. Under the umbrella theme of “Sustainable Futures,” approximately 10,000 architects and key decision makers will gather to discuss how architecture can contribute to the achievement of the U.N.’s SDGs.

When bidding, Copenhagen placed great emphasis on SDGs as well as its young people, who will have a leading role before, during, and after the congress, with summer schools organized in various architectural campuses. “We were very serious about the U.N.’s goals when bidding and our mission was clear to everyone,” said Annette Blegvad, vice director at the Danish Association of Architects and organizer of the UIA2023 congress. “There is a sense of urgency when committing to these goals and our vision is to look into the future where young people are the protagonists.”

International cooperation will be a key element in the success of the conference as the UIA has already established a commission with sustainability commitments from countries worldwide.

This article was contributed by Boardroom. It has been excerpted and modified for Convene.

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