The Global Goals as the Future of Denmark

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On December 1st, 2016, Chora Connection invited 100 decision makers, activists and change agents to take part in a unique 12-hour work seminar, which was held at Teaterøen in Copenhagen. The purpose was to develop new ideas for initiatives that can kick-start a sustainable transition of Danish society, with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals as the starting point.

By Asbjørn Riis-Søndergaard
On December 1st, 2016, Chora Connection invited 100 decision makers, activists and change agents to take part in a unique 12-hour work seminar, which was held at Teaterøen in Copenhagen. The purpose was to develop new ideas for initiatives that can kick-start a sustainable transition of Danish society, with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals as the starting point.

During the 12 hours, the 100 participants first had to pitch their own idea and then communally qualify each other’s ideas. This was done in order to ensure the ideas had maturity and substance for  implementation by Danish corporations, municipalities, organisations or entrepreneurs. The purpose of the day was thus to create initiatives that can foster sustainable development in Denmark

A unique gathering

To contextualise the work ahead of AMB17ION, the day began with inspiring talks by Mogens Lykketoft (former president of the UN General Assembly), Martin Lidegaard (MP, Social Liberal Party) and the leader of international peace organisation Brahma Kumaris, Sister Jayanti. These talks reminded the participants of the challenges our society face, in areas like social responsibility, economic resilience and environmental sustainable development, not just on a global, but also a national, scale.

The morning session also had a live reading of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet as well as a live music performance, which served to initiate the participants in the purpose of the day and the work before them.

The 100 gathered participants were from a wide cross-section of society and included change agents, representatives from grass-roots organisations, the corporate world, civil society, municipalities and the arts.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals as framework

The program for the day was based on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in September 2015 by 193 countries.

The 17 SDGs are objectives to direct sustainable development of the world toward 2030. The goals encompass everything from immediate climate improvements, protection of land and sea life, improvements in human wellbeing and health, improved equality, better education and the establishment of partnerships needed to make all of this possible.

As a prelude to AMB17ION, Chora held six seminars with the themes: LEARN, BE, MAKE, LIVE, EAT and GROW, that collectively covered the 17 SDGs.

The six seminars were held to illuminate the challenges in Danish society, that the initiatives from AMB17ION should help to solve.

According to Mogens Lykketoft, by using the 17 SDGs as a foundation, it is possible to both generate growth in Denmark as well as push sustainable development globally: “We have all the options of making this a win-win game, where we do the right thing while creating good jobs and making good money doing it”.

A complete sustainable experience

To create an inspiring setting for the forum and illustrate the many facets of sustainability, Chora Connection had invited several artists to stage an experience for the senses; to stimulate both mind and body, and to facilitate a positive working environment.

4V, from the public school Randersgade Skole, works with the Sustainable Development Goals in their daily curriculum, were invited to share their dreams for the future to remind AMB17ION participants of their responsibility to society and nature.

British-born creative director of OLIVIER MYTHODRAMA, Richard Olivier, lead a workshop after lunch with the theme “7 generations”. It gave the participants insight into how the actions of today will impact future generations.

Teaterøen, the venue for the event, is remotely located, down by the water at the far end of Refshaleøen. The different buildings connected to the venue and used for AMB17ION had names like ‘Afmagnetiseringsstationen’ and ‘Sydpolen’; names that in Danish invoke raw industry and nature. From these buildings, you can see Nordhavnen and the inner harbour.

At the end of the afternoon, all participants gathered at ‘Afmagnetiseringsstationen’ to select the most considered, qualified ideas; those with most potential to inspire sustainable transformation. Thereafter it was time for a theater-inspired conversation dinner staged by Mette Martinussen and Dorte Holbek. The dinner included – amongst other things – men and women dressed as merfolk, who brought fresh mussels from the bridge in Øresund straight to the tables, where the participants had to finish the cooking them in pots.

Toward the end of the day, three teens from Randersgade Skole who attended AMB17ION as ‘chief listeners’ gave their perspective on the day.

Chora Connection had previously engaged 17 Danish designers to interpret the SDGs as framed posters, and these were exhibited for the first time at the dinner.

Finally, the participants gathered for drinks and dessert in an adjoining room, where all the ideas had been put up on the walls – ready to be actualised!

Next steps

The purpose of the day was to create a catalogue of tangible ideas that can foster innovative and sustainable development of Danish society.

The end result was 127 unique inputs and 20 further elaborated initiatives. These were then collected in an open source Catalogue of Ideas, published at the start of 2017 at choraconnection.dk

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