Home to World’s No. 1 & No. 2 Sustainable Corporations
Denmark, in Northern Europe, is the World’s most eco-friendly country, according to the 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). Now in its 22nd year, the EPI report has become the premier metrics framework for global environmental policy analysis ranking 180 countries on 32 performance indicators across 11 issue categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality.
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy ruled by a representative democracy. In 1971 Denmark established a Ministry of Environment and was the FIRST country in the world to implement an environmental law in 1973. The country shows consistent, cutting-edge commitments to clean green climate change initiatives.
“Denmark excels in almost every indicator of environmental health, having long made significant commitments to air quality, advanced sanitation, and safe drinking water. The highest-ranked country also stands out in solid waste management, with virtually all of the waste being recycled, composted, or incinerated. In addition, Denmark leads the world in the breadth and depth of its programs to tackle climate change, including a recently announced target of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030”, the report states.
Spread over an area of 42,924 square kilometres and a population of over 5.82 million, Denmark is considered to be one of the most economically and socially developed countries in the world. It has the lowest level of corruption in the world, a high level of income equality and one of the world’s highest per capita incomes. According to the International Monetary Fund, it has the world’s highest minimum wage, attributed to its powerful trade unions. A worker in a fast-food chain makes the equivalent of US$20 an hour, which is more than double what their counterparts earn in the United States, and have access to five weeks of paid vacation, parental leave and a pension plan.
Once a predominantly agricultural country, Denmark has greatly expanded its industrial base and service sector. By 2017, the Services sector contributed approximately 75% of GDP, manufacturing about 15% and agriculture less than 2%. Major industries include Wind Turbines, Pharmaceuticals, Medical Equipment, Machinery and Transport Equipment, Food Processing and Construction. Denmark is a major exporter of Food and Energy. Denmark ranks 10th most competitive economy in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018.
Denmark is a long time leader in wind power. The country aims for renewables to cover at least half of the country’s total energy consumption by 2030 and by 2050, Denmark aims to be a low-carbon society independent of fossil fuels. The country also exported roughly 460 million GJ of energy in 2018. It’s noteworthy to mention that Countries making concerted efforts to decarbonize their electricity sectors have made the greatest gains in combating climate change, with associated benefits for ecosystems and human health.
More than half of Denmark’s electricity came from wind and solar power in 2020, surpassing 2019 as the greenest year in Danish electricity history. In ten years, the share of wind and solar power in Danish electricity has doubled.
In order to achieve the country’s commitment to reduce 70% emissions by 2030 and becoming CO2 neutral by 2050, Denmark’s government has approved its plan to construct artificial renewable energy island in the North Sea, 80 kilometres off the coast of Jutland.
For the first phase- the artificial renewable energy island is set to have a capacity of 3 GW. This island will serve as a hub for approximately 200 offshore wind turbines to neighbouring countries’ electricity grids. In the future, the hub could be expanded to 10 GW which will allows the system to power 3 million homes in Europe.
This largest construction project in Danish history would be owned by a public-private partnership with the Danish state holding a majority stake. The island construction is expected to start in 2026 and targeted to operate in 2033.
Did You know this about Denmark?
- In Denmark, punctuality is a big deal?. Danes are efficient workers and being on time for meetings and appointments – as well as dinner time – is an integrated part of the Danish DNA
- The highest point in Denmark is 172 meters. Yes, Denmark is quite flat. The hill Yding Skovhol reaches merely 566 feet above sea level.
- Denmark has launched its first museum of happiness. Located in Copenhagen, and the first of its kind, it tells visitors the history, politics, and science of happiness.
- Touring Denmark for the summer, one will most likely come across one of these roadside stalls. Buyers are trusted to leave money in the jar, which is a very common practice. In Denmark, trust is learned during childhood from parents, teachers, coaches, lasts for a lifetime, and is passed on from generation to generation.
- Denmark’s famous labour market model – Flexicurity – is widely admired for its ability to reflect the needs of employers while, at the same time, safeguarding the welfare of employees.
- People living in Denmark pay some of the world’s highest taxes – up to half of their income. On top of this, Danes pay a 25 % value-added tax on most items, and a tax of up to 150% on new cars. And the best part is, they are happy to pay taxes because they can see what they get in return. Most healthcare in Denmark is provided with no fee to the patient. University students pay no tuition and receive a grant to help cover expenses while studying. Childcare is subsidised. And the elderly receive pensions and are provided with care helpers who visit them at home.
The capital, Copenhagen, is one of the greenest cities on earth
Copenhagen continues its bid to become carbon-neutral by 2025 – just four years from now!
CopenHill, a significant landmark in the city, is designed to turn waste into energy and is already supplying tens of thousands of homes and businesses with electricity. Not only that, but CopenHill is also a year-round artificial ski and snowboard slope, making it one of the most unique power stations in the world. Nothing – not even space – goes to waste in Copenhagen, which is fast becoming a model for some of the world’s largest cities, such as London and New York.
Aarhus: Denmark’s second-largest city, high on sustainability
A sustainable focus at one of the largest harbour urban development projects in Europe is Aarhus
The new area in Denmark’s second-largest city is built with care for both people and its surroundings. 25% of the apartments are so-called “social housing” ensuring a mixed demographic, and the buildings have several sustainable features such as geothermal energy for heating, energy- and water-saving devices, and building materials from the local area.
In the very middle of Denmark lies Samso island, famous for its delicious potatoes. Since 2007, Samso has been 100% sustainable, relying entirely on renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biomass energy.
To meet that goal, many of Samso’s inhabitants replaced their oil-burning heaters and insulated their homes.
Now the island is implementing a new strategy for re-using all waste. A new biogas plant will even produce the necessary power for the ferry “Princess Isabella” that connects Samso with mainland Denmark.
Three of the world’s top 10 most sustainable companies are Danish!
Three of the world’s top 10 most sustainable companies are Danish. According to Corporate Knights’ ranking “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World” 2020, Denmark shows clear leadership in sustainability. Corporate Knights is a specialised Toronto-based media and investment research firm.
Corporate Knights report highlights that the most sustainable companies are also best-performing companies. Not only do the companies in the Global 100 have a longer average lifespan (83 years compared to 49 for the All Country World Index (ACWI) index), they also have better gender diversity ratios, more equal CEO/employee pay ratios and most significantly, higher carbon productivity, where they earn more revenue per tonne of CO2 emitted.
Ørsted, the world’s most sustainable corporation
The world’s most sustainable corporation in 2020 is the Danish renewable energy provider Ørsted. The company, which a decade ago produced 85% of its energy from fossil fuels and 15% from renewable energy, has reversed that proportion and has a target to essentially become carbon neutral by 2025.
“Running the company just for profit doesn’t make sense, but running it just for a bigger purpose is also not sustainable in the long term. Doing good and doing well must go together.”– Henrik Poulsen, CEO, Ørsted
Chr. Hansen, the world’s 2nd most sustainable corporation
Last year’s top-ranked company – Chr. Hansen, a Danish bioscience company that uses good bacteria to provide natural means for preserving food, protecting plants and reducing over-reliance on antibiotics in livestock farming – ranked number two overall.
Novozymes, the world’s 6th most sustainable corporation
In the sixth spot comes Novozymes – a global, Copenhagen-based biotechnology company focusing on the research, development and production of industrial enzymes, microorganisms, and biopharmaceutical ingredients. While the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas and Novo Nordisk, also feature in the list, at 34 and 58 respectively.
Denmark ranks at the top in all spheres
- In 2020, for the second year in a row, Denmark ranked second after Finland in the “World Happiness Report” issued by the United Nations annually since 2012. According to the World Happiness Report, happiness is closely linked to social equality and community spirit – and Denmark does well on both. Denmark has a high level of equality and a strong sense of common responsibility for social welfare. Even though there are nine major political parties in Denmark, none of them seriously supports dismantling the Danish welfare state.
- Denmark ranks 3rd in the EU’s Digital Economy and Society Index 2020. Everyday life in Denmark is mostly cashless and almost all interactions with the Danish authorities take place online
- For 40 years, Denmark has met the UN target of setting aside 0.7 per cent of GNI (Gross National Income) for development assistance. Only five countries in the world meet this target.
- Denmark is one of the world’s most digitalised countries. Most transactions are cashless, and almost all interaction with the Danish authorities takes place online.
- In its most recent survey, the World Bank calls Denmark No. 1 in Europe and No. 4 in the world for ease of doing business.
- According to the Expat Study 2020, Nine out of Ten expats love living in Denmark. The study shows that work-life balance is an important factor when accepting a job in Denmark. In Denmark, people do not just live to work, maintaining a good balance between time on the job and personal life is important.
Denmark, as well as Danish companies, have proven to the world that setting ambitious sustainability goals and actively working towards achieving them will eventually fructify. Governments worldwide can also learn a lot from the business ecosystem in Denmark. Here, the government often releases national sustainability campaigns offering free materials and conferences to small business managers and employees to support their transition to a greener way of doing business. What distinguished Denmark and Danish companies from many of its peers worldwide is the proactive approach to sustainability issues.
Photo credits : www.orsted.com, Instagram (@denmarkdotdk, @denmarkgram @novozymes @chr.hansen)
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