Malmö keeps goals in sight
Urban development has become a key issue for achieving a sustainable future. But how can we gather the momentum we need on our pathway towards sustainable urban development? In Malmö, extensive efforts are underway to implement Agenda 2030, including the urban development process Amiralsstaden. ÅF consultants have joined these efforts and have developed a method for breaking down the Global Sustainable Development Goals and transforming them into local actions.
In Sweden, major cities have accounted for close to 80 percent of total population growth since the early 1900’s. Malmö in southern Sweden is the fastest growing city, and just as in many other expanding cities, growth brings both challenges and opportunities. When the new Swedish quality index BRP+ was used for the first time in the spring of 2018, Malmö was ranked at the bottom among Swedish municipalities together with other major cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg. BRP+ is based on the OECD’s Better Life Index. Unlike GDP, which measures economic development, BRP+ measures quality of life in the long term. Malmö ranked at the bottom on parameters like environmental quality and on social sustainability parameters like housing and citizen engagement. At the same time, welfare studies show that the gap among different groups within the city is widening. Today there is upwards of a four-year difference in life expectancy for women and a five-year difference for men among Malmö’s different districts.
A 360-degree view of urban sustainability
Already one year before the BRP+ rankings were published, the municipality launched an extensive initiative to strengthen Malmö’s sustainability efforts across all dimensions – social, economic and environmental. The municipal administration was tasked with implementing the UN’s sustainable development goals on the local level.
For Amiralsstaden – an urban development process with its geographical centre at the heart of the planned Rosengård Station – the challenge became an opportunity to take a holistic approach to sustainability. Amiralsstaden is a collective term for several ongoing projects and processes for developing the area around the street Amiralsgatan in Malmö. Through collaboration among property owners, residents, municipalities and the local business community, the project hopes to achieve better living environments for children and adults. The project intends to provide more housing, more jobs, more cultural activities, and better conditions for good and equitable health.
ÅF was commissioned to investigate how to develop Amiralsstaden with the aid of the global goals, while at the same time contributing to their achievement. The result was a comprehensive analysis of all 169 targets from Agenda 2030, which were compiled for use as a basis for the implementation. The targets were mapped to existing targets and guidance documents available for the city of Malmö and for Amiralsstaden in particular.
“It’s about pinpointing the areas where we can make the most difference.”
“It’s about identifying which of the global goals we can link to local processes – pinpointing the areas where we can make the most difference from a sustainability perspective”, says Lina K Wiles, consultant at ÅF and project manager for the analysis.
The analysis method is the result of a collaboration between two different specialist areas at ÅF: Environment & Sustainability and Process Management & Strategy. The mapping resulted in 35 priority targets that will be incorporated into the urban development process in a subsequent phase. Some of the targets are overarching in nature, meaning that they should guide the broader work on Amiralsstaden as a whole.
“Target 5.1, for example, stating that all forms of discrimination against girls and women should be abolished everywhere, is an objective that all sub-projects in Amiralsstaden need to contribute to. This can be done through measures such as equal representation at all stages of the process”, Lina continues.
Other targets are more specific and find their rightful place in individual project initiatives, such as targets for energy efficiency in infrastructure construction. Ultimately, transparency should act as a coherent framework for all Amiralsstaden projects – a beacon for developing the entire area. Jennie Hügert, an environmental strategist at Malmö Municipality, thinks that the global goals have offered clear insight into the development of Amiralsstaden.
“Amiralsstaden is a complex project, with many different sub-projects and parallel processes”, says Jennie. “The global goals create a common thread that makes it possible to weave all the parameters together during development of the city. And many of the goals overlap each other, so by working on one goal you can influence another one at the same time.”
A common vision at top of mind
As a next step, the priority global goals will be put into practice in Amiralsstaden’s various sub-projects and activities. Concrete, measurable targets will be set for each activity. At ÅF, we are seeing a growing interest in working methodically towards achieving Agenda 2030.
“We use a target matrix as a tool in similar projects for private companies as well as regional authorities. The basic methodology is the same – it’s about finding the right level of detail”, says Lina K Wiles.
At a time when sustainability is high on the agenda both for the public sector and for private businesses, Agenda 2030 can provide a powerful tool for understanding where to direct efforts to produce the greatest impact – and to boost interaction among the various stakeholders.
“This method gives an idea of how an organisation’s own priority objectives match up against goals at the regional, national and global levels. The advantage of Agenda 2030 is, of course, that it’s relevant for all stakeholders in all countries and touches upon all dimensions of the sustainability question. With a common vision and a common language, it’s easier to work together and achieve results”, says Lina K Wiles.