Nordic countries team up to build smarter cities: havens of quality of life, nature and great design – with zero emissions

The new Peloton Smart Retro Acceleration Programme for urban services aims to revitalise three cities in three Nordic countries. The project originates from a Nordic public declaration on building more sustainable cities.

Sustainable urbanisation is a global necessity; to tackle climate change will require collaboration across borders. The Nordics are now leading the way with the Nordic Built Charter, a public declaration of the values, intentions and ambitions of a united Nordic building sector. The Charter lists the ten core values of Nordic building, most notably quality of life, respect for nature and great design – all with zero emissions.

At the forefront of putting the charter into practice is the Peloton Smart Retro Programme, organised by Nordic think tank Demos Helsinki.

The internationally pioneering project aims to create a new, globally applicable model for developing smarter, more livable cities. The programme’s focus is on the creation of new sustainable urban services in existing urban spaces. The welfare states of the North are particularly fertile ground for this type of development for a few key reasons.

Firstly, the existing building stock in Northern Europe is aging fast. Much of it was built in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and is now in need of renovation. This opens the door for large-scale, cost-efficient implementation of new smart solutions.

Yet renovation alone will not solve the problem. Many Nordic cities also lack local services and urban activity. It is in the interests of the government, city officials, business and residents alike to support the growth of local services that create livelier neighbourhoods.

At the heart of the Smart Retro project is therefore a startup acceleration programme designed to boost the growth of ‘smartups’. These are startups that make more efficient use of existing resources, especially in the sectors of food, transportation and housing. In this way they also create more local jobs, livelier cities and fewer emissions. You can read more about smartups here.

The Peloton Smart Retro Acceleration Programme consists of three innovation camps for startups and established companies in three Nordic countries. The first one will take place in Lahti, Finland, on 4-5 December, and the second one in Stockholm, Sweden, on 21-22 January. There will also be a camp in Oslo, Norway, in the spring of 2015.