Monday, January 18, 2010

Reports from the battle of Scandinavia

BACKGROUND. Last week Stockholm officially kicked off its year as European Green Capital 2010. The Swedish capital is the first city being honoured by the European Commission with this prestigious award.
Last month all eyes were focused on Denmark and Copenhagen when the self-proclaimed Climate Capital of the World hosted the United Nations Climate Summit. World leaders may have failed at the summit, but the Danish capital reached new heights in its ambition to be an international role model for modern and ecologically conscious urban development.
Stockholm and Copenhagen are two lovely cities locked in a friendly battle over the title “Capital of Scandinavia”, already used by Stockholm as an official slogan but increasingly claimed by Copenhagen when it comes to world attention for its merits.
This “battle of Scandinavia” led me to a project I’m working on, partly funded by a journalism grant from the Nordic Council (an inter-governmental forum for cooperation between the governments of the Nordic countries).
Last fall I set out to study how the Nordic capitals, mainly Copenhagen and Stockholm, have claimed positions as international role models when it comes to modern urban development in a world focused on a sustainable future.
The Nordic capitals are small cities by global standards and have fewer problems to deal with than its bigger counterparts in other countries. This is of course an advantage, but not the reason why many cities look to the north for inspiration when it comes to sustainable city development.
In the months to come I will write a lot about ongoing development and plans in Stockholm and Copenhagen. I will also visit the Norwegian capital Oslo, getting ready to challenge its Scandinavian counterparts with exciting projects following the spectacular new Opera house now rising out the waters of the Oslo fjord. Then we have Helsinki, the Finnish capital, getting ready to be the World Design Capital 2012.

Climate Capital no 1: Copenhagen.

Climate Capital no 2: Stockholm

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