Over the past three decades, Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmö, has made the switch from a centre of shipbuilding to a start-up hub, with nearly half of its population under the age of 35. Just take a look at the one-time industrial Västra Hamnen, or West Harbour, a former shipyard that is now one of the city’s most modern districts, powered entirely by locally generated renewable energy. As a signatory of the Green Digital Charter, Malmö is already helping cities achieve EU climate goals through sustainable IT, setting an example right at home with an infrastructure that “reduces the environmental impact of technology and also city operations as a whole,” according to TCO Certified. Here’s how the city aims to be one of Sweden’s most climate-smart by 2020—and how others can follow its lead.-Bruno De Man
From shipyards to sustainable districts
Malmö has made a name for itself as a city powered by renewable energy, where bikes are just as common as cars and every fourth journey is made by bike. In addition to boasting around 400 km of cycling paths, the city sports the only hydrogen-powered car. Malmö is also home to the third-largest wind park in the world, Lillgrund, where 48 turbines power 60,000 homes. The next project on the horizon: E.ON is looking to build the largest biogas plant in the world in the city’s harbour. According to Christer Larsson, Director of City Planning for Malmö, in a report from the Institute for Sustainable Urban Development, “We must live in a more carbon neutral way... for the next generation, it will be a matter of lifestyle to choose climate-smart living. I am convinced that everyone is going to want to take part.” The former shipyard area of Västra Hamnen is one major example of how the city is improving quality of life for citizens while cleaning up derelict parts of town. The 175-hectare industrial wasteland, located less than a kilometer from the medieval old town, is now a carbon-neutral district that’s the first of its kind in Scandinavia. One of Sweden’s largest energy efficient housing projects, the area is entirely self-sufficient thanks to wind and solar energy and biogas, with solar panels and heat pumps powering air conditioning in buildings. When the district is completed in 2031, it will offer expanded green spaces, sustainable public transport, and housing for 10-12,000 residents. By rejuvenating neglected parts of town and incorporating sustainable housing and transport, Malmö is spearheading Sweden’s climate-smart movement and proving that simple smart measures like these can make for major success.