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Sustainably Vikings – a solution to the climate crisis?

29. November 2020

With the current restrictions on world travel, Crown Prince Haakon recently completed a first-of-its-kind official virtual visit to California. On screen, he met with local academia, politicians and business on the topic of climate. I was fortunate to be one of the students representing UC Berkeley to meet with HRH.

California and Norway have a strong relationship, with close collaboration on issues of climate, energy and sustainability. The virtual visit aim was to enhance that relationship. Looking back at my conversation with fellow climate-engaged Berkeley students and HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, several crucial take-aways from the conversation has become evident. I'd like to share 3 of them.

Innovation and the green entrepreneurship

It is now the green entrepreneurial spirit that drives businesses of tomorrow forward. Bringing aboard the right stakeholders with a collective mindset builds the foundation, but it isn't before this is combined with technological ingenuity and human creativity that the greatest challenge of our generation can be solved. From its sheer size and complexity, one may find it daunting to even "poke the beast". Hence, it is up to every single one of us to break it down into its smaller, coherent pieces and find a field where we can make a positive impact. For great examples of this, just look at how ClimatePoint is accelerating the green financial transition, how Evoy is completely altering the game of electrical boating, and the many other great, green ventures yet to be started.

Collectivism and sustainable vikings

To accomplish a sustainable future where the right people are brought to the roundtable, we need to look further than just the executive one. By applying strategies taught by Professor Robert Strand in his Sustainable Capitalism in the Nordics and in his upcoming book, Sustainable Vikings, we came to realize that a truly sustainable type of capitalism takes care not only of the profits of shareholders but also its indirect and direct stakeholders. In figuring out who your stakeholders are, and how to approach them, the collectivist and group-think mentality of the Nordic model is a highly useful one. Not only does it allow for a bottom-up look at societal actors, but it reveals the "hidden" power of the masses. As Chloe Olsen of the Rausser College of Natural Resources and his Royal Highness himself pointed out, consumers, employees, and investors are now clearly shifting their attention toward firms where both our human and natural resources are no longer splurged but used innovatively. Now, what is truly innovative?

Inclusive, equitable, sustainable, & sustainable mindsets at the roundtable of the future

As Madeline Wong of the Berkeley Haas School of Business points out, it goes without saying that these values ought to be a central part of any present and future entrepreneurial venture. Now, how do we follow through with this? At a bare minimum, a solid CSR policy should be taken from pen to paper and into practice. Taking the policy and shaping a set of new values, or a brand new culture around sustainability also requires acknowledging not only its potential but also its pitfalls. As I shared my encounters with multiple nationalities in working out green energy solutions with the Crown Prince, it is clear that most international business situations we face nowadays are with people of various socio-economic and international backgrounds. Thus, ensuring that everyone has a say at the "roundtable of the future" not only requires a more innovative green agenda but an inclusive one as well. Derived from the topics of international collaboration, sustainability, and entrepreneurship that my fellow Cal students and I explored with HRH Crown Prince Haakon, it is clear that we really do need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the great challenge ahead of us. But, with a consistent focus on who's sitting at the roundtable of the future, knowledge of our stakeholders and how we approach them, and how green entrepreneurship drives us forward, I'm confident in our abilities to have a climate-positive impact. Now, in turning to you, I'd like to ask you a question I ponder on every single day (Sometimes short of an answer): - What's climate-positive impact do you aim for? Peter and his fellow students interview can be found at 55min into the footage from Day 1 at HRH Virtual Visit. Video above.

Peter Grinde-Hollevik

Associate scholar UC Berkeley

Peter Grinde-Hollevik is a Norwegian national studying Data Science & Environmental Economics at University of California, Berkeley. Through Covid, Peter has used his time to explore the climate effects has on South America in particular. Peter is associated with ClimatePoint as an Associate Scholar, and work as a link into climate initiatives in the Bay Area, with focus on UC Berkeley and Stanford in particular. 

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