Network for Sustainable Business Development North Denmark
City/Region : Aalborg Municipality , Denmark

The Network for Sustainable Business Development is a forum where local companies' sustainability efforts are further developed. The aim of the network is to strengthen the participating companies’ competitive advantages through targeted efforts towards sustainability. The network is a private- public cooperation between the municipalities in Northern Denmark, local business bureaus, Energi Nord, Aalborg University and private companies.

Agendas addressed
Climate changeLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Apply innovative financing approaches
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
Aalborg / Network meeting on industrial symbiosis

Aalborg has been dedicated to sustainability since the adoption of the Aalborg Charter back in 1994. The focus has always been on a holistic approach in addressing the challenges before us. An important part in this approach has been the collaboration with the local industrial sector. Before the establishment of Network for Sustainable Business Development, municipal interaction with local industry was based on authority- the municipality was there to ensure that industry respected environmental law. This is still the case, but to push the sustainable agenda, local environmental caseworkers from the municipality have taken on a new role. In addition to the enforcement role, they also spot potential for environmental improvement. This is where the collaboration towards the green transition of the industry starts.

In Action
Aalborg / The Green Task Force

The Network for Sustainable Business Development is a public-private partnership aimed at creating growth through the green transition. When a company decides to become a member of the Network for Sustainable Business Development, the following services are offered:

▶ SUSTAINABILITY SCREENING: All members of the Network are offered a Sustainability Screening, which gives an overview of the company’s potential environmental improvements such as energy optimisations, waste reductions, industrial symbiosis etc. A team of specialists carries out the Sustainability Screening, which is conducted at the company’s premises.

▶ PROJECTS: Sustainability projects can be identified by the company or as a result of the Sustainability Screening. The company can conduct the sustainability projects on their own or in cooperation with the Business Network. The Business Network can assist with identifying potential partners for a project or matchmaking with potential candidates. The matchmaking can lead to internships, thesis cooperation, wage subsidy jobs or employment.

The Business Network assists in creating Sustainable Business Plans, which incorporate sustainability into an organisation’s other strategic plans. The process of creating a Sustainable Business Plan involves participating in an inspirational group with other companies as well as separate meetings about the company’s internal challenges and strategic considerations.

▶ FUNDING: There are several regional, national and international funding options for sustainable projects which are highly relevant to the members of the network. The Business Network cooperates with regional EU offices as well as with local business bureaus, and can therefore assist members in identifying and applying for funding.

▶ NETWORK: Knowledge sharing and cooperation is key when it comes to sustainable development. The Business Network arranges various events where companies can share knowledge and network across industries. Each event is hosted by one of the members, and each meeting has a theme which is based on current topics in the environmental field or requests from the companies attending. Participation in the events can provide inspiration, improved competences and lead to cooperation with the other members of the network.

"Networking with other companies in the Business Network is essential, as it allows us to share knowledge and experiences across industries, which can lead to new ideas and collaborations regarding sustainability."

Jens Højer, Managing Director, furnX, Chairman of the board, Network for Sustainable Business Development


The Network for Sustainable Business Development has been a huge success. More than 100 companies have joined and it is now being rolled out in the rest of the Region of North Denmark. The project has also evolved. It started as a municipality-driven project, but is now a non-profit association with its own governing board. 

Several sub branches have been created;

- Industrial symbiosis: designed to map potential for using waste/surplus from one company in the production of another.

- Network for Sustainable Building: creating more sustainable and energy efficient public buildings.

- The Green Task Force: supporting local SME’s potential for a green transition. The task force consists of students or newly graduated candidates with a green profile, combined with experts in the sustainability field. The task force will work to implement environmental and economically beneficial projects in SMEs. In the long term, the performance of these projects will ensure resource and competitive advantage in companies and thus identify growth opportunities and support job retention and the creation of new jobs.

Challenges and lessons learned

Local companies’ willingness to engage in the green transition has been overwhelming, and  the network has been hugely successful. Involvement and education of the local environmental caseworkers has been essential for the success of the project.



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19



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