The Nordic way

Elika Roohi

The prosperity and support of the Nordic welfare states leave its philanthropic foundations free to explore projects beyond the role of the public sector. Here’s how they’ve used that opportunity to advance on ESG

Danish Architecture Centre, where the 2022 Nordic Foundations Conference took place.

It’s Copenhagen in November, and attendees from across Scandinavia have gathered for the annual Nordic Foundation Conference. This year, the conference is focused on ‘stepping up on ESG’. Many Nordic foundations and organisations are already at the cutting edge of bringing an ESG (environmental, social and governance) lens into their work, Kirsten Brosbøl, former Danish minister for the environment and current CEO of 2030beyond, tells the conference.

But this progress has footnotes, adds Brosbøl. Often in global summits, leaders of Nordic countries bring an attitude of ‘well, this is about the world becoming more like us’, she says. Certainly, to be more like a Nordic country sounds appealing. They lead in almost every category that falls under the banner of social progress: basic human needs, like nutrition, housing, and safety; foundations of well-being, like education, health, and environmental quality; and opportunity, like personal rights, freedoms, and access to advanced education.

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