Table of Contents

  • There are several successful less formal approaches to eco-management and eco-certification systems for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Nordic countries (for example Eco-Lighthouse Norway, Environment Diploma Sweden and Green Network/Key2Green Denmark) that promote successful co-operation between municipalities and businesses. It was found necessary to assess these different Nordic certification systems and search for ways with which to coordinate them. The efforts have resulted in a common platform, which can form the basis for a shared development direction in the future.

  • Customers and consumers voice their environmental concerns more and more frequently. To meet their requirements, suppliers can implement an environmental management system based on either the ISO 14001 or EMAS standards, which require a lot of resources (both time and money), but are well known – or they can opt for a less formal EMS, which is not as bureaucratic and instead focuses on concrete environmental work, but is internationally less well known. Small and medium enterprises tend to favour the less formal systems because of their down-to-earth approach and lower costs.

  • Several approaches and certification systems are in place in the Nordic countries with the aim of improving the environmental performance of SMEs. Common for the approaches included in this project is the cooperation between municipalities and businesses. There has already been some co-operation between these systems and cities, but many differences in the manner with which the systems are constructed and what kinds of certification criteria they utilise can still be identified.

  • During the latest decades, successful certification systems have been created in special regions in the Nordic countries. In addition to environmentally-beneficial actions, implementation of these models has fostered valuable know-how and competence in the Nordic region. In order to develop and coordinate the Nordic models it is important to take advantage of existing experience.

  • The process on developing a common platform has passed many milestones. The steering group has convened many times, enhancing trust between the different parties and serving as a venue for very important dicussions and the making of crucial decisions. The workshop was arranged in order to introduce the issue also to Nordic actors that are not involved in the project. In addition to this, a cooperation agreement will be signed in Odense in September. A process initiated in the Helsinki metropolitan area also forms a part of the coordination effort. A three-year project to establish a less formal EMS according to the common Nordic agreement will commence in June 2008. Even though many promising steps have been taken towards coordination and common platform of the Nordic systems, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

  • Members of the project steering group participated in a questionnaire, which indicated that, generally speaking, the project has been successful. The expectations that the partners had were mostly fullfilled. Especially the cooperation itself exceeded expectations. The partners agreed on the project's objectives and viewed them as top priorities in their work. This kind of cooperation, where everybody is expected to remodel their systems so that they would correspond more closely, requires trust, goodwill and enthusiasm - this was definitely not problem in this project.