Norway, known for its pioneering work in environmental sustainability, faces a critical challenge in pursuing a sustainable future. It’s time to develop initiatives that promote social sustainability, writes Glenn A. Hole.
As the EU increases its focus on social sustainability through its social taxonomy, Norway must keep pace with this development, even though the country is not a member of the EU.
Social sustainability in Norway is about creating robust, healthy societies where residents can live good lives. This requires an emphasis on social justice, inclusion, and equal opportunities and includes dignified working conditions, access to essential services such as health and education, and the protection of human rights.
Potential to be a global leader in social sustainability
With its strong economy and high standard of living, Norway has enormous potential to become a global leader in social sustainability. The country already has a solid foundation through its tradition of social responsibility.
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By integrating the principles of the EU’s social taxonomy, Norway can further develop its approach to social sustainability.
However, inclusion and justice should not be limited to specific population groups. All groups in society, including neurodiverse individuals, those with physical and mental disabilities, immigrants, and older people, must be included.
The need for diversity
Neurodiversity and disability represent significant diversity in society. It is necessary to recognise and value the unique abilities and contributions of individuals with various neurological conditions and disabilities.
Norway can improve social sustainability by accommodating workplaces, education, and public spaces and combating discrimination and stigma related to these groups.
Furthermore, immigration is a critical component of social sustainability. Even though there is a demand for skills, many qualified immigrants are kept out of the labour market due to structural barriers such as discrimination, language challenges, and the need to recognise foreign qualifications.
Norway must, therefore, establish systems that recognise and exploit the competencies of immigrants to create a more inclusive society.
“Even though there is a demand for skills, many qualified immigrants are kept out of the labour market due to structural barriers such as discrimination, language challenges, and lack of recognition of foreign qualifications.”
Age discrimination is also a significant challenge that needs to be addressed.
With an ageing population and increasing life expectancy, it is crucial to ensure the inclusion and recognition of older workers. They have significant experience and expertise but are often overlooked or selected against in the labour market due to stereotypes and the need for adjustment.
Combating age discrimination, accommodating older workers, and changing society’s attitudes to ageing are necessary to create a more inclusive and sustainable community.
To strengthen the approach to social sustainability, there are several measures Norway should consider. These include integrating social sustainability into national policy, collaborating with the EU on sustainable initiatives, supporting companies in their practice of social sustainability, increasing awareness of social sustainability through education and community engagement, and investing in research and development for social sustainability.
“Combating age discrimination, accommodating older workers, and changing society’s attitudes to ageing are necessary steps to create a more inclusive and sustainable society.”
Social sustainability is about creating societies where all residents have an equal opportunity to thrive. By embracing the principles of the EU’s social taxonomy, Norway can ensure that it continues to be a leading nation in sustainability. This includes recognising and including all groups in society – from neurodiverse individuals and people with disabilities to immigrants and older people.
Social innovation and technology
Technology and social innovation also have a significant role in promoting social sustainability. Technological innovation can be used to address social challenges, not just provide economic gain.
Technological advancements, such as those that have made remote work possible, can benefit people with disabilities, neurodiverse individuals, and older workers.
“Norway can pioneer a socially sustainable future by building a sustainable society that respects, celebrates, and utilises the enormous diversity of talent, skills, and experience that the population offers.”
Now it’s time to take the next step towards a more inclusive and socially sustainable future. This requires more than just “more hands and heads”. It requires a commitment to utilise the hands and heads that are already available but remain outside the workforce due to various barriers.
By building a sustainable society that respects, celebrates, and utilises the enormous diversity of talent, skills, and experience that the population offers, Norway can be a pioneer for a socially sustainable future.