Join the global SDG Accord – the University and College Sector’s Collective Response to the Sustainable Development Goals

NSCN network became the endorsing partner of the global SDG Accord in October 2017. We invite NSCN member institutions to join this global accord on UN Sustainable Development Goals.

More detailed information and current signatories at




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Press release 2.11.2017: Nordic City Challenge developing Pasila area in Helsinki

Winners of the multidisciplinary case competition Nordic City Challenge (NCC) 2017 were selected on the first of November at Hanasaari – the Swedish-Finnish cultural centre in Espoo.

Jury selected student team “Eco Art 2” as winners of the challenge. The team describes their proposition “Polku” (“the path”) in the following way:

“Pasila deserves better! Pasila is a diverse community without an opportunity to come together and express itself in the urban space. There is a stark disconnection between city and nature. We are proposing a solution based on movement, connectivity and art. Polku brings Finnish “luontopolku” or a nature path into the city. Pasila provides the elements of rough urban canvas and is a source of green in the adjacent central park. The Polku takes people on a journey through nodes of meeting places manifesting the history and existing seeds of community in the area. In Pasila we plant a seed for new Finnish urban identity, a natural marriage between nature and the city.  Pasila unites to build an identity through art, culture and entrepreneurial projects. The Polku connects east and west Pasila, as well as nature and the city. Different geographical areas will be connected through culture pieces and historical landmarks. Art and nature are used as tools to educate the people within eco-sustainability, awareness and stimulate them to be active themselves. By monumentalizing iconic landmarks in Pasila, the Polku will renew and refresh the dated postcard image of Helsinki.”


Members of the winning team are:

  • Eeva-Maija Ekman, Landscape Architecture, Aalto University
  • Thomas Rahbek, Global Health, University of Copenhagen
  • Aapo Markkula, Arts Management, Sibelius Academy, University of Arts
  • Madeleine Larsson, Social sciences, University of Gothenburg
  • Maria Viitanen, Spatial Planning & Transportation Engineering, Aalto University

Their presentation is available at:

Also, the other team presentations will be available on the webpage. The presentations will be exhibited in the information and exhibition space for the city of Helsinki Laituri for 2-4 weeks starting at the 20th of November.

The organizers invited 24 students from five Nordic countries to participate in the multidisciplinary course in urban planning. The participants in the Nordic City Challenge represented for example the following academic disciplines: urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, creative sustainability, real estate economics, environmental engineering, environmental ecology, global health, arts management, industrial design, social sciences and environmental and natural resources.

The project brought together students, teachers, professors, practitioners and leading experts from the Nordic countries to work on a real-life planning case. The case this year was Pasila area in Helsinki where the City of Helsinki has made plans for Ilmala square to become a new hub connecting new and old parts of Pasila. Before on-site work the students worked with a pre-task providing them scholarly knowledge on socio-ecological sustainability. The intensive days were held from the 29th of October until the first of November 2017 at Hanasaari – the Swedish-Finnish cultural centre. The course also included a walking tour and a panel discussion in Pasila.

The course highlighted the social-ecological approach to urban planning. During the course, the student teams created plans to develop Pasila by using art and design as a means of strengthening a shared understanding and identity of the Pasila neighborhood. In the proposals, the student teams focused on development of the Ilmala Square and introduced innovative ideas, which can be integrated into a general environmental art programme in Pasila.

The program included input from The Helsinki City Planning Department, local residents, NGOs as well as representatives from University of Helsinki and Aalto University.

The group work was facilitated by experienced researchers with different orientations into urban planning. The course work also included a written pre-assignment before the intensive course as well as a written report after the course on the learning experiences and case outcomes. On the final day, the student teams presented their solutions to the other teams and a jury. The jury evaluated the results and gave feedback.

Nordic City Challenge academic tutors:

  • Salla Jokela, University of Helsinki / Tourism / Political geography / Urban Studies Meeri Karvinen, Aalto University and the Nordic Sustainable Campus Network (NSCN) / Sustainability in higher education/ Urban ecology
  • Katri Pulkkinen, Aalto University / Architecture / Social-ecological approach
  • Catalina Vaage, NCC 2016 alumnae, University of Copenhagen
  • Sari Mertanen, Climate-KIC visiting expert trainee

Nordic City Challenge jury members:

  • Aino Kostiainen, programme Coordinator (Art and Culture), Hanaholmen – the Swedish-Finnish cultural centre
  • Petri Kangassalo, member of board of Directors, Dodo ry
  • Meri Löyttyniemi, Senior advisor, Sustainable Development, Aalto University
  • Sami Moisio, Professor of Spatial Planning and Policy, University of Helsinki
  • Jalmari Sarla, Pasila grassroot activist
  • Elina Suonranta, Architect, city planning department, city of Helsinki

The project is administrated by Hanaholmen cooperation centre for Sweden and Finland. Organizers included also Urban Academy, University of Helsinki, Aalto University and Nordic Sustainable Campus Network (NSCN). The course is financially covered by Nordplus Horizontal and the project continues 2017 and 2018. The Nordic City Challenge 2018 is held in Copenhagen in Denmark. Preliminary themes are linking sustainable planning with health and urban gardening.

Warm thanks for collaborators and congratulations for the successful teams!

About the Nordic City Challenge:

Contact persons:

  • Jonna Similä, Project Leader Nordic City Challenge, Hanasaari – the Swedish-Finnish cultural centre,, +358 40 6495454
  • Janne Wikström, Project Leader, HanaAcademy, Hanasaari – the Swedish-Finnish cultural centre for Sweden and Finland,, +358 40 6207626
  • Meeri Karvinen, Researcher, coordinator of the NSCN, Aalto University,, +358 50 407 1884
  • Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen, researcher, Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group, Aalto university School of Engineering
  • Salla Jokela, post doc-researcher, Urban Academy,+358 50 448 9190,


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UiO takes a green leap – step by step

By: Jorulf B. Silde

University of Oslo is launching its new Environmental and climate change strategy for UiO’s estate operations. This is an action-oriented strategy that sets targets and identifies measures within a short-term and long-term framework.

9 areas affecting green performance

Nine areas are identified as critical to the overall green performance of the estate operations:

  1. Greenhouse gas reductionOslo2017_1.jpg
  2. Reduced and renewable energy use
  3. Environmentally friendly transport
  4. Waste reduction and increased source separation
  5. Environmentally sound use of materials and resources
  6. Procurement as a driver of environmental and climate change work in the estate operations
  7. Efficient area management that is beneficial for the environment and creates a pleasant working environment
  8. Environmentally efficient buildings
  9. Environmentally efficient outdoor areas that create a positive environment

Space for an outstanding, green university

Oslo2017_2.jpgThe overall strategy for the university, Strategy 2020, emphasises that the University of Oslo shall have environmentally-friendly operations and property management.  A Masterplan for the UiO campuses was developed in 2015, named Space for an outstanding, green university – and for Oslo, the city of knowledge. The Environmental and climate change strategy is to be considered as an offspring from this masterplan.

The Estate Department has been assigned special responsibility for the environmental and climate change strategy. As part of the work on implementing this, we will place particular emphasis on further developing management and an organization and culture that promote the environment and climate and give green results, develop outstandingly green expertise and establish systems that assist and highlight environmental work.

How to become Outstandingly Green?

The vision for UiO’s estate operations is to be Outstandingly green. The targets set up for 2040 are as follows:

  • Carbon neutral estate operations in 2040.
  • Reduction of UiO’s energy use per square metre by 40 percent.
  • All transport related to UiO’s estate operations shall be emission-free.
  • 50 percent reduction in the amount of waste. Material recycling ratio of 80 percent.
  • Select non-toxic building products and materials with a documented low carbon footprint.
  • Use purchasing power to create environmental benefits and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • UiO’s areas shall be managed in the best interest of the environment, students and employees.
  • Build, upgrade and manage the buildings in an environmentally efficient manner.
  • UiO’s outdoor areas shall promote environmental and biological diversity and create well-being and joy in nature.

December 2018  is the deadline for the immediate measures. Until then the operationalisation of the strategy is focusing on implementing targets and measures in budgets, plans, projects, recruitments and communication.

Organisational measures

To enhance the organisations capability to perform according to the vision –   Outstandingly green estate operations – a set of organisational measures are launched

  • to further develop management, organisation and culture that promote the environment and climate and give green results
  • build an outstandingly green expertise within the organization
  • implement systems that assist and highlight environmental work

Involvement is key

Environmental manager Jorulf Brøvig Silde has been responsible for the process leading up to the  strategy. He says, “This strategy is developed according to the 2R-principle: realistic and realizable. When the vision is as ambitious as in this strategy, the 2R-principle functions as a strainer: only the targets that are realistic and the measures that are realizable comes through.” The process of developing the strategy has included experts, managers as well as worker’s and student’s representatives. “Involvement is key. This strategy sets the direction, each individual project manager, expert or consultant are the ones doing the work. Choices made in tens of projects and hundreds of daily choices determines thOslo2017_3.jpge success and the final performance. For the estate operations to become outstandingly green each and every of these decisions count”

Questions regarding the strategy may be directed to:

Jorulf Brøvig Silde with the new Environmental and climate change strategy for UiO’s estate operations (Photo: Katarina Gutu)


Environmental and climate change strategy for UiO’s estate operations 2018–2020–2040

Miljø- og klimastrategi for UiOs eiendomsvirksomhet (full web pages in Norwegian only)

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Sustainability events in the University of the Faroe Islands

The University of The Faroe Islands has been actively involved in Nordic Sustainable Campus Network’s activities since 2015, and has during this spring officially joined the NCSN. Below you’ll find the most recent sustainability events relating to sustainability education and green campuses at the university.

Coming soon: An international PhD course

As part of the Green Growth Dialogue 2017 (18-22 June), the University of the Faroe Islands offers an international PhD course in Engaged Scholarship. Do you want to be part of 10 PhD students who will present their work on sustainable food production and consumption, innovation, and science-policy-society dialogue – and be part of actual policy dialogue with public and private actors – then send us an application.

We also run the course as a Master’s course (5 ECTS ). See here for more:

Contact information: Lau Blaxekjær, PhD, Assistant Professor, laub (at)

Past events: Outcomes from the Nordic Sustainable Campus Conference 2016

The final conference of the Nordic Sulitest-project was hosted by the University of the Faroe Islands. The conference, From campus planning to learning outcomes”, discussed about Nordic experiences on sustainable campuses and explored the connections between the built environment, teaching and learning outcomes. As a special focus, the conference presented student project on sustainability and renovating an old building, “Linberg’s Hus” to become a Green Student House.

The report from the conference can be found here, and it has also been published has been published in the original conference page. A detailed plan on Linberg’s hus by Evan Alexander here.

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The Green steps of the University of Iceland

Text: Sigurlaug I. Lövdahl


The University of Iceland is now taking the so called Green Steps. The Green Steps idea is originally from Harvard (Green-Offices), and the program is designed to guide you through the process of greening your workspace. See:

The program is monitored by The Environment Agency of Iceland under the direction of the Ministry for the Environment. It aims at helping public organisations / institutions to organise their daily practices in a more environmentally friendly way by following the five different steps from which the last one includes the implementation of the environmental management system ISO14001.


Each step includes six different categories:


Communication and Management, Transportation, Purchasing, Meetings and Events, Waste Sorting and Waste Reduction, Energy and Heating.

In each category there are different criteria that have to be fullfilled and the criteria becomes more challenging with every step. There are more than one criteria in each category within each step. The example below shows only one in each step within the category: Transportation.

EXAMPLE, Transportation:

  • Step 1 – Bicycle stands are provided outside every univeristy building
  • Step 2 – Shower facilites provided for walking and cycling staff
  • Step 3 – Bicycles provided for staff members to use during working  hours
  • Step 4 – Special parking for eco-friendly vehicles

In the University of Iceland, two persons are working part-time on the implemention of the Green Steps, starting with the Main Building where the central administration is located. Meetings have been held with all divisions and departments, and it seems as the timing has been just right. People are really willing to participate and understand the importance of the project. One of the results has been that plasic cups will soon disappear, and every staff member will get a reusable cup with his/her name. Extra facilities for washing are being installed and waste sorting is getting better and better.

The Green Steps – program started in Iceland in November 2014 and today there are 32 public organisations / institutions (the number is around 200 total in Iceland) with over 70 offices registered (incl. The Parliament and The National Museum). The University of Icelands estimates that the implementation will take around 18 months before starting working on ISO 14001.









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Experiences from a study visit in Bangladesh

In June 2016 15 students from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg had the chance to visit the world’s eighth most populated country, Bangladesh. They aimed at getting a better understanding and knowledge of Bangladesh’s textile industry,  covering issues regarding economic, social and environmental sustainability. Read here the previous blog post on the expectations and preparations for the journey!

Text: Students from School of Business Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg

It has now been a few months since we re-took Swedish soil after two fantastic weeks in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Two weeks packed with activities and meetings with interesting people and organizations. The purpose of the trip was that 15 students from the School of Business Economics and Law would get experience and with our own eyes see the situation of workers in the textile industry in Bangladesh, and to further spread knowledge about the problems and opportunities in the industry.

We arrived in Dhaka early in the morning and a few hours later it was time for the first meeting. The Swedish Ambassador in Dhaka received us and gave us an introduction to what Sweden is doing in the country and what it looks like for the workers in the textile industry. During the remaining days we got the opportunity to meet among other politicians, university students, trade unions, the ILO and organizations dealing with safety in the factories. In addition to our meetings, we also visited three textile factories and the Hazaribagh area, where the leather industry is based.

Gothenburg_BlogPost2016_BangadeshThe 15 students ready to go.

The three factories are working in different ways when it comes to safety, working environment and conditions for the workers. The owners of the respective plants were of different opinions when it came to pay and how safety should be handled. Minimum wages in the textile industry is about SEK 500 a month which is about a quarter of what is required for a minimum standard of living. When it came to safety there was one of the factories that was considering buying fire doors but since it was very expensive, the owner chose to put the money on buying the employees fruit and on special occasions also food.

In Hazaribagh tanneries leather is handled from animal hides and processed into leather that is sold for the production of bags, jackets and shoes. The number of tanneries in Hazaribagh are extremely numerous and chemicals from production runs down to the river in the area where the locals fish and wash their clothes. The Bangladesh Government has allocated a new area for leather production, in which the regulation of chemicals into the rivers will be adjusted when a sewage treatment plant will be installed.

The impressions from the trip are extremely numerous. We saw a lot of misery but also much joy and hope that conditions will improve. Bangladesh as a country has a lot of potential and with support from major clothing companies and other stakeholders there can be better conditions for the workers in the textile industry, and also for the country at large.


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Christmas greetings and wrapping up the year 2016

Dear friend of sustainability, member of Nordic Sustainable Campus Network,

The year 2016 is coming to an end. We are proud of the achievements of NSCN member universities, like the UN initiated Sustainability Literacy Test being launched to Nordic countries, Nordic City Challenge course tackling sustainable urban planning and sustainability becoming more rooted in NUAS´ agenda. We have also reached out to our European and international colleagues.

What´s next – how to get involved

NSCN is led by our 9 member core group, NUAS Sustainability. We are currently exploring possibilities for external financing as Nordic Council of Ministers´ support is ending by March 2017. Ideas we are considering are continuing SuLiTest in Nordic universities, implementing Agenda 2030 and SDG´s, launching Green Gown Awards to Nordics or research community platform supporting better politics; in conjunction with Globe-EU, WBCSD and Global Education Alliance. How and what should we address as sustainability professionals? Do contact us – we welcome new institutions and people to get involved, as partners and also as members of the core group.

NSCN 5th anniversary 2017 – create the festivities with us!

In January 2017 NSCN network will start celebrating its 5th anniversary. We want the year to be filled with empowering actions, improved visibility and significant results. Therefore transmit your idea for activity, maybe a challenge, or consider blogging or share your most compelling photo of sustainability activities. If you send it by end of January 2017, it can be part of the 5th anniversary communications. We are also considering putting up NSCN Facebook pages, a platform for Nordic languages to flourish.

Season´s greetings – and a better year 2017

Hopefully NSCN activities and communications have supported and inspired your work as a game changer, as an educator, as a researcher. Our sincerest thanks for partners, stakeholders and members for good collaboration. Despite the challenging times, relaxing holiday seasons and an even better next year!

Meri Löyttyniemi

Chair of NSCN & NUAS Sustainability

riemukaariL´Arc de Triomphe was illuminated to celebrate the inception of global climate agreement on 4 November 2016 in Paris. Despite the success, major global challenges remain unsolved.



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