Tuesday, June 30, 2015
"The Baltic Sea Means Everything To Us"
Via The Local: The "Nordic way" receives a lot of praise around the world, not least when it comes to sustainability. The Local went in search of the Nordics’ secret, and we were surprised by what emerged. It’s a sunny afternoon on the Baltic island of Gotland. Boats criss-cross the waves off the shores of Visby, the normally staid Hanseatic hamlet that is currently abuzz with the Almedalen political week. The cobblestone street are dotted with tents, and teaming with people. Looking out over the Baltic it’s easy to remember that its waters not only connect Gotland to mainland Sweden, but also to the other Nordic countries. Thus, it serves as a fitting venue for exploring the Nordic way in more detail. And who better to speak with than Brit Bohlin, the former Swedish MP who is now secretary general of the Nordic Council, an inter-parliamentary group based in Copenhagen. Founded in 1952, the Council features representatives from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland, as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland islands. The group also works closely with the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental body established in 1971. “If you look at our countries, our common history is of course important”, she begins. “But we’re also rich countries which gives us a lot possibilities”. Bohlin goes on to list the region’s hallmark high-tax, high-service welfare states and members’ generally equal societies as things that set the Nordic countries apart. “Without bragging too much, the Nordic countries have a lot to offer and we want to share what we know”, she adds. But when quizzed about the secret of Nordic-style sustainability, Bohlin is at a loss. “Hmmm. It feels so natural, it’s difficult to answer”, she says after a pause. “If you look at what we have here in the Nordic countries, our nature is very special, the water is clean, and there are a lots of reasons to take care of the environment for the next generation. So it’s natural to put sustainability at the top of the agenda”. And the Nordic sustainability agenda is hard to miss at Almedalen this year, with the theme cropping up in a number of seminars being held on “Nordens dag” (‘Nordics’ Day’), a series of events organized by the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers.