Federation for
Housing and

International Conference Trilogy Outcome

This summary captures a day of brainstorming and discussion on “Bridging Economies – Spanning Sectors: Financing Green Urban Development” convened by IFHP in Copenhagen, Denmark on the first day of the conference trilogy.

During the three day conference the multiple meanings and interpretations of the Trilogy concept: “Sharing Cities – Bridging Regions” were the subject of much scrutiny and reflection. At the centre of this debate, three topics were raised:


  1. October 1st: Financing Green Urban Development
  2. October 2nd: The Nordic Metropolis – A Super Model for Green Growth and Regional Integration
  3. October 3rd: The Nordic Urban Model


This particular summary captures the first-day programme of presentations, panel discussions and interactive dialogue at the conference on leading the way in financing green urban development, which took place October 1st 2014 at the National Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.


The event brought together some 100 delegates of professionals representing the broad field of housing and planning worldwide to review the role of urban leadership and collective impact in promoting investments in green urban development and address current and future challenges and implications in the matter. It also provided a valuable networking opportunity and set the stage for further cooperation among public, private and civil sectors of society, including countries at different stages of development.


The conference was launched with welcoming remarks by Flemming Borreskov, President of IFHP and Christer Larsson, Chairman of Nordic Cities Network, and continued with presentations and interactive panel discussions. It concluded with a back-to-back presentation of visions for “Cities for People and People for Cities” between Jan Gehl, Founding partner of Gehl Architects and Flemming Borreskov.


Morning session

The four speakers of the morning gave each their perspective on what the drivers were behind green urban investments.


According to Mark Watts, CEO of C40, cities and collaboration between cities are drives as they accelerate action. National leaders compete with armies. City leaders do also compete, but do not feel threatened. They have more in common than stuff differing them. So they are willing to share, which means they are closer to action which again leads to being a driver.


Green cities are simply better places to live in than the rest. They are safer, healthier and with an open eye on strengthening the social coherence among the citizens, the city comprehends the attractiveness of green urban investments. Sustainability is connected with reducing social inequality. Closing this gap is yet another important driver. From C40’s point of view, green investments make economic sense. Investment in e.g. infrastructure does look more attractive than ever, which means it actually takes place. Mark Watts told the participants about the Chinese city of Shenzhen that now has 6000 electric buses and a huge industry around this is being built up simultaneously. Most C40 Cities struggle to attract the necessary investments. There is a gap between the projects investors would like to place money in, and the projects the cities can offer to the investors. The way to close the gap lies in a greater willingness to invest long termed.


It is said that the driver for the urban age in 21st century is about two things:


  • Urbanisation in China
  • Technology in US


According to Graham Floater there are many more aspects to be considered. For example the 2,5 billion Europeans who are expected to move to cities. Or the 468 cities across the world, that generate 60% of GDP growth AND 50% of the CO2 emission.


Cities need to think bigger as pension funds often find city projects too small! Tiny and short termed. It is all about proving return of investment, and it helps if the city brings part of the funding too, to minimize the risk of the investor.


“There is something in it for me” - is according to Kathrine Richardsson the primary driver! As far as she is concerned we - as in citizens on the globe - need to acknowledge we have limited amount of resources and we need to realize we have to share them. Regulation is the most effective tool, as we until now have not seen agreements or treaties which has made the world decide for the better.


Talk about the business case for green urban investments was conducted by Anders Eldrup, chairman of several green tech companies and former CEO of DONG Energy (2001-2012). He claimed the driver for the companies is to the first movers. Wind power is an example in Denmark, which goes back to 1970’ties and has brought Denmark at the forefront all along. Or huge international corporations investing in technology in Copenhagen to test and to create a showcase before exporting it to bigger scale cities. As the three other speakers during the morning session Alders Eldrup stressed that cities and companies might not invest in green urban development to save the climate, but rather to create liveable cities. More people to consume more. Business is and will increasingly be one of the main reasons and partners in this. From the audience this was supported by experience from public private partnerships where the private companies striving to be the best on the market bring this into the development in general.


Afternoon session

Speakers presented different business cases and the necessary terms for the private companies to invest.


As the speakers during the morning session pointed out and Meik Wiking, director of Happiness Research Institute, in the afternoon repeated: “Greener cities have an effect on citizens’ conception of life quality.” He took the audience through some of the aspects of citizens and community engagement. It is about governance and it takes urban leadership to encourage the citizens’ participation.


Two politicians: The Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen and Milan Obradovic, City Council from Malmö ended the afternoon session with the uplifting statement: “It is NOT difficult to attract investors for green urban development.” Rather they saw the problem being that the industry is set on talking about technology whereas cities need to talk about solutions and liveability. And not necessarily solutions that are fixed, existing and already on the market. Often cities are in need of developing and take it further than just the existing. The two politicians therefore pleaded that industries are more willing to invest and accept that there is a risk. We all have a joint responsibility to act.


Day 1 touched upon several issues relevant to the Nordic countries to encourage a further development and reminded us all of the responsibility to share what has been done already. The sharing of the Nordic methods and model was the focus of day 2 and 3, which partly took place in Malmø in cooperation of Nordic City Network. The network presented on Day 3 a review of the 450 cases from Nordic cities, which they have gathered. Just to let you know: It is definitely worth reading. More info at Nordic City Network.


Available powerpoints


  • Anders Eldrup, Chairman, Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster: Green Urban Investment - the business case
  • Rikke Beckmann Danielsen, Director, Deloitte: Public Private Partnerships
  • Jan Gehl, Founding partner, Gehl Architects, Denmark: Cities for People / People for Cities
  • Flemming Borreskov, President, IFHP: Cities for People / People for Cities
  • Graham Floater, Principal Research Fellow, London School of Economics, Programme Director, the Stern Programme on the Economics of Green Cities, UK: A researchers view; Sharing economy and urban innovation: What does it take to finance green urban development?
  • Jes Møller, Project Director, Køge Kyst; Citizens involvement; Private, public, philantropic partnerships and sustainable communities
  • Katherine Richardson, Vice Dean, Professor, University of Copenhagen: An academic view; Green economy drivers – are there any characteristics?
  • Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40: Opening keynote; The urban green challenge - why green investments?
  • Meik Wiking, CEO, Happiness Research Institute: Measuring Urban Happiness by Citizen Participation
  • Søren Adamsen, Market Director, COWI: Tools for organizing green investments; Amenity Value makes economic sense
  • Michael Stamming, Director Regional Development
  • Peter Head, Chair, Ecological Sequestration Trust, United Kingdom
  • Claus Billehøj, Director, The Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark
  • Christian Wichmann Matthiessens, Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Jens-Peter Saul, Group Chief Executive Officer, Ramboll


“All good things must come to an end.” 

We think that is especially true in this case.  It has been a great conference and we thank each and every one of you for coming to this event and for making it a success. Of course the conference would not have been the great success it was without the outstanding presentations from so many distinguished speakers.


Please plan to join us again next year and keep an eye on our upcoming events where we soon will post the upcoming activities taking place in 2015. We look forward to that and to seeing you again!


Now watch the conference teaser and keep an eye out for more