NLC’s Delegation to Europe: Day 2 [Malmö, Sweden]

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On the second day of the NLC delegation to Europe we head to Malmö, Sweden, the third largest city in Sweden, and along with Stockholm considered one of the leading cities in Sweden on issues of sustainability.

Our group was welcomed to Malmö with a lunch meeting hosted by the National Association of Swedish Ecomunicipalities (SEKOM), an organization of over 80 municipalities in Sweden committed to advancing sustainability practices. At the meeting U.S. and Swedish local leaders discussed efforts that they are making in their communities, and trends they are seeing as being important to advancing sustainability. Among the topics discussed by Swedish leaders were the challenges of balancing an increase in energy consumption from the rise of ever-accessible IT such as mobile phones with the need to continually incorporate technologically-based solutions into sustainability plans.

Following this meeting the group headed to the Western Harbor, a former shipyard that has been redeveloped and transformed over the past decade into a mixed-use community incorporating innovative sustainability features throughout the newly-built environment. Design features include retractable solar panel canopies that serve the dual purpose of providing shade and reducing cooling needs; stationary vacuum systems for waste collection; and collection of stormwater through greenroofs and permeable surfaces. At the conclusion of the tour delegates met with Environment Director for the City of Malmo, Ms. Katarina Pelin, at the famous “turning torso” building to learn more about the evolution of sustainability efforts throughout Malmo. It was encouraging to learn that even just 10 years ago, the concept of sustainability was not widely embraced but that today it is widely accepted and expected by community members and private developers.

The delegates concluded their day as guest presenters at Malmo University where they presented to students and faculty members about sustainability initiatives in the U.S. The students were particularly interested in topics of U.S. land use policies; adoption of alternative transportation; and how cities were developing partnerships – such as those with universities and surrounding cities – to achieve their goals.

Tomorrow the delegation will depart Sweden and begin their day in Hamburg , Germany where they will visit the waterfront development area of HafenCity and visit with the U.S. Consul General to Hamburg.

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