Speech by Minister Andreas Carlgren at Sustainable City Development

First of all, I would like to thank Malmö city for hosting this conference on sustainable city development and to invite me here.

Imagine living in a city without communications, water supply or even electricity - A too common reality for many of the urban population in the mega-cities of today. Uncontrolled, rapid urban growth can lead to devastating social and environmental problems. The situation in many of the sprawling, slum-ridden mega-cities in developing countries bear testimony to this.

Nobody will question the need to change this reality and to fight poverty. But the even more challenging task is to reduce poverty through sustainable development and growth.

We all know the scale of the task. The world must avoid climate change. We therefore have to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions drastically.

Cities and municipalities have a vital role in this work.

Cities are becoming increasingly more important for the economy and for growth. A majority of the world's population already lives in urban areas.

But cities can also form the basis for sustainable societies. The concentration of people in urban areas can provide the basis for efficient and smart solutions for transport and energy, among other things.

The way we plan, build and use our cities is therefore of vital importance.

In Sweden, we have come a good way towards creating a more environmentally sustainable society. We have, by international standards, a high proportion of public transport in our cities. City infrastructure solutions are being made more environmentally friendly. Renewable energy use is increasing.

Swedish companies are at the forefront in many branches of environmental technology. But we, as other countries, still need to raise our ambitions even higher. We must create integrated system solutions that can handle every aspect of urban sustainability.

By doing this, we can contribute to a more sustainable urban development - not only here in Sweden, but globally, in the cities were it really matters.

Therefore, I am happy to announce that the Swedish Government is now introducing a new programme to support sustainable city development in this year's budget bill.

Through the programme, we will make available 340 million Swedish crowns - one third of the government's one billion-crown push for climate action - for supporting sustainable city development initiatives that contribute to diminished climate impact and increased quality of life in cities.

By this programme, we want to invite - and challenge - the building industry, real-estate owners and managers, the environmental technology industry and local authorities to give an extra effort to provide interesting examples of applied technology that can be showcases for new houses and new city districts for a climate neutral world.

The programme shall also contribute to business development and growth. This will be achieve through promoting the use of advanced technological solutions and integrated planning solutions.

We see a growing demand and a great potential, nationally and internationally, for technological solutions and know-how for building sustainable cities. Swedish expertise - along with other countries - can contribute a lot to achieve more sustainable urban development globally.

As an example of interesting energy efficiency measures, I could mention passive energy houses. We now know that it is possible to design and build houses that consume only a trifle of the energy of traditional houses. There are several interesting examples of such houses (- e.g. the houses at Lindåsen or the new Hamnhuset in Göteborg).

We also know that the major part of new housing is still built in the traditional, energy consuming way. Part of the explanation naturally has to do with economics - production cost is still a bit higher. But I am sure that the concept of passive houses can be developed and deployed much further.

Integrating the concept of passive houses into town planning is perhaps even more interesting. Let us develop new ways to plan a neighbourhood to make it over-all energy efficient. And let us stimulate the use of information technology to minimize energy consumption.

Let us also plan city-districts, or for that the whole city-region, in order to minimize the need for energy demanding transport. The future direction for sustainable cities will probably be found in combining new and smart ways of organizing the city.

Cities are not only vital for the economy and for growth - they also constitute the place for everyday-life for an increasing number of people. Good urban design and beautiful neighbourhoods is an important part of all sustainable city development strategies.

One further important starting point for the programme is that it will support and stimulate local sustainable city development initiatives. The municipalities, real estate owners, residents and other local actors can find the best ideas and solutions for their particular situation.

Not the least, it is important to do this in an international setting. We have a lot to gain from learning from each other, comparing experiences and stimulating new ways forward, across borders. The UK-Sweden cooperation, which has been given special emphasis this week, is one such example.

The project has led to increased contacts between real estate and property actors and the building industry in the two countries, and it has contributed to highlighting the potential for reducing climate impact through more ambitious construction standards.

The city of Malmö is a logical and natural place to hold this conference. Malmö has consistently strived to make sustainability part of the city's urban development and growth. Västra Hamnen (The Western Harbour) and Augustenborg are notable examples of the sort of high quality urban environments that you can achieve under dedicated, visionary and professional leadership. They are also beautiful places.

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but perhaps it helps to have a mayor who is also an architect, which is the case in Malmö. That combination has turned out to be successful in at least some other places, with Brazilian Curitiba as perhaps the most famous example.

With this, I would like to once again thank you for inviting me and wish you good luck and many inspiring discussions during the conference.

Thank you for your attention.