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The citizens of Trøndelag will inspire an entire region to live with a small footprint and a high quality of life

The City of Trondheim and Sparebank 1 SMN are taking steps to ensure that an entire region will contribute to significant climate cuts and the necessary green transition.

In this way they hope to not only change individuals' habits, but also to inspire the rest of Norway and the world.

The municipality and the bank collaborate closely with Ducky, and their ambitions will bring major climate benefits, says Ducky Co-Founder Mads Simonsen Thuv.

"In a low-emission society, everyone will live with a small footprint, but high quality of life. That's how simple sustainability really should be communicated", he believes and further praises the municipality; "It's incredibly inspiring that Trondheim has started a new community plan and they've come a long way already", says Simonsen Thuv.

"Sustainability must permeate everything in the municipality"

Trondheim municipality has made it clear that sustainability must be part of everything we do, and invites all social actors and residents to contribute to reducing emissions and at the same time increase citizenship, knowledge and quality of life. 

Read more about Trondheim municipality's work on sustainability here.

"Many cities are working on becoming climate neutral, but are solely focusing on their direct emissions. Trondheim on the other hand has made a plan where they make it clear that everyone must live within the planetary boundaries. To do so we cannot ignore our consumption any longer - it's the real elephant in the room", he says.

During the municipality's leadership event this autumn, Trondheim launched a new community plan. It suggests that we cannot wait on 'thematic plans', but must act now.

"This is an initiative that can lead to large-scale innovation and societal restructuring. We are wonderfully impressed by what Trondheim has already done. We are cheering them on going forward", says Simonsen Thuv.

Trondheim municipality has taken a huge leap in climate reporting. During two weeks in September, municipal employees in Trondheim saved 148 tonn CO2-equivalents, through participation in Ducky's climate competition.

But Trondheim municipality's sustainability work and collaboration with Ducky go far beyond a single competition.

"We try to work so that sustainability is the basis for everything we do. The new community plan is scheduled to be adopted this autumn, and will provide guidelines that put climate and environment on the top of the agenda", says Smart City Manager Øyvind Tanum.


Participation in the climate competition was important for the municipality in order to inspire and create awareness among employees, demonstrating that small contributions from day to day count.

In the municipality, which has approximately 15,000 employees, around 3,300 participated. The participants logged 17,822 climate activities, saving 48 tonnes of CO2 equivalents in total.

"For us, participation in the competition is about inspiring and making each other aware", says Smart City Manager Øyvind Tanum.

He says that the climate competition is a starting point for action, and leads to many more people talking about climate.

"The climate competition also helps make our community plan more relevant! On an overall level, this is also about connecting municipal planning and management system to concrete actions", says Tanum.

The competition was launched at Trondheim Municipality's leadership event in September. On stage for Ducky, Mads Simonsen Thuv inspired leaders throughout the municipality to contribute.

The climate competition was a way for the citizens of Trondheim to participate in their community plan.

"A municipality does a lot, but is not always able to work at the level of the individual. The climate competition helps us do just that", says Tanum.

Trondheim municipality has collaborated with Ducky over time, and started working on the possibility of creating a digital twin of its citizens, in order to gain an overview on a system level.

"This was the predecessor to Footprints", says Tanum.

He talks about important cooperation with both Ducky and SMN, the municipality's bank.

"For us, it's crucial that our bank is a mutual partner in sustainability. And SMN is just that", he says.

Trondheim strives to be an inspiration, demonstrating for smaller municipalities how sustainability work can be conducted. In this way Trondheim and Tanum hope to inspire beyond the municipal boundary; to become a force in central Norway.

Cooperation is crucial, says Tanum.

"You don't get much done alone. Cooperation is the key to success", he says.

He hopes that the collaboration can inspire social change. It's about showing the good, inspiring stories that contribute to change. It's the opposite of greenwashing - for us sustainability work is central to everything we do, says Tanum about the collaboration with Ducky.

He highlights the importance of dividing sustainability work into smaller packages.

"This way we can identify opportunities that work on a small scale, but can also be scaled so that more people can use them. Thereby succeeding with greener behavior that provides lasting change over time."

A quick transition

Both the public and private sector are important in achieving the climate goals society has set ourselves in the Paris Agreement. Sustainability must be made so simple that everyone can understand it and we must all contribute to the transition if this is to be possible. During COVID, the business world learned to quickly adapt to new regulations from the public sector. In this situation we were able to make rapid changes to mitigate the spread of disease.

"Sustainable goods and services are rapidly growing in demand. Businesses that manage to deliver a sustainable alternative and at the same time manage to quantify the alternative's effect will probably do very well in tomorrow's market", says Simonsen Thuv.

Business will then also contribute to making it easy for individuals to live more environmentally friendly and, thus contributing to the public being able to document progress towards our most important social goal.

Both Trondheim municipality and Sparebank 1 SMN are taking concrete steps to contribute to climate cuts:

"As a pioneer, SMN has shifted  from focusing only on their own footprint to seeing the opportunities in increasing their handprint. This gives more opportunities to create positive climate impacts by influencing the customer base rather than just reducing their own emissions. This creates commitment internally and leads to world-class innovation, which I'm sure will increase the customer base and value proposition for both the private and corporate markets in the future. In collaboration with Ducky, they have also launched a beta version of 'Mitt Klimaspor' in the digital bank and when this is further developed in the future, it will surely provide motivation and guidance allowing individuals to live more sustainably", says Simonsen Thuv.

It will be very exciting to see how Trondheim and SMN can work together in the future and support the municipality in the transition through knowledge raising and climate change for residents and businesses.

What do you think about Trondheim municipality and SMN participating in the climate competition?

"It's super fun. Hopefully many employees will become ambassadors of sustainability brimming with ideas on how Trondheim and SMN can work more efficiently with sustainability in the future."

In what way can Trondheim municipality and SMN's work with sustainability and reduction of climate emissions have ripple effects beyond the municipality and the region?

"We have recently attended many smart city conferences and see that everyone is struggling with mobilization of the population and businesses. In the next few months, Trondheim and SMN can show that change is possible and give enormous inspiration to other neighborhoods, municipalities, companies and countries", says Simonsen Thuv.

How does Ducky hope to contribute to a more climate-neutral society?

"We can document change and enable actors to act today. We also want to share success stories across neighbourhoods, municipalities, countries and eventually continents."

And how do you hope your tools contribute to this?

"Through visibility of the effect of mobilization in the population which will increase the demand for sustainable goods, services and policies. All the necessary solutions must be created by citizens, politicians and businesses, but we can contribute to a collaboration towards a common goal and document the progress."

Any tips for a small municipality who is thinking: "Now I need to do something about sustainability. What on earth should that be?”

"Become a partner in Ducky footprints and anchor in the management that the most important thing is to help reduce the average footprint per citizen and at the same time increase the quality of life for citizens. All units in the municipality must cooperate towards the transition. Make sure to share experiences with other units and municipalities, so that together we can create and share solutions that really work."

Sustainability as a clear priority

Sustainability is a priority in SpareBank 1 SMN's company strategy. Their societal role is to stimulate the sustainable development in central Norway by being a driving force for green transformation, a partner for inclusive social development and a guide to responsible business culture. These ambitions apply to daily operations of the bank, their customer offering and how dividends are invested.

How do you work with this and why is it important to you?

"Sustainability is important to us for several reasons, and is about both risks and new business opportunities. At the same time, we feel a responsibility to help our customers succeed."

Read more about this on Sparebank 1 SMN: Sustainability

"We have a lot in common with the municipality's goals and ambitions, and we collaborate and challenge each other on the way to a more climate-neutral society", says Jan-Eilert Nilsen, Head of Sustainability SMN

Trondheim municipality is participating as one of 112 cities in an EU collaboration to become climate neutral. What do you in SMN think about that? As a major player, how do you hope to contribute to a more climate-neutral society?

"We are familiar with their ambitions, and see that this is inspiring other municipalities. We collaborate and challenge each other on the way to a more climate-neutral society, and SpareBank 1 SMN will further develop the product and service offering to actively contribute to an orderly transition to a zero-emissions society. In addition, our ownership model provides a unique opportunity to support and strengthen conversion projects that contribute to reducing the region's climate footprint."

How do you work to get your own employees, and customers in general, engaged in reducing climate emissions?

"Great advice is our main product, and to gain trust and credibility we focus on internal measures. We offer e-learning and game-based debriefing for all employees, have a separate internal communication channel on Yammer, and publish documents and reports in the sustainability library on our website. To gain experience and insight into climate-friendly habits, we participated in Ducky's climate competition. SpareBank 1 has also developed an application where customers can see their personal climate footprint. It is available in online and mobile banking as "Mitt klimaspor".

How do you use Ducky's tools and why?

We have collaborated with Ducky for years. Ducky has the expertise that we don't have, and we use their tools Climate Competition, Mitt Klimaspor and Footprints.

What do you think of Ducky's approach to consumption-based climate emissions as a crucial part of the path towards a more sustainable society?

"We have learned a lot about consumption-based climate emissions through the collaboration with Ducky. Climate-smart habits are the headline in the climate competition. As a financial institution, we are concerned with climate-smart habits that can contribute positively, both to the customer's personal finances and to the climate issue. Our consultancy can contribute to a focus on behavioral economics on the way to a more sustainable society."

You've just completed the climate competition, how do you use this to motivate and engage your own employees?

"We prepared well for the climate competition, and mobilized more than 1,200 employees to participate. Early in the competition, we saved close to 62 tonnes through 112,000 registered activities in the company. It's been inspiring to hear how climate has become a topic in the cafeteria and meeting rooms, and to see evidence of new habits in social media. I would like to praise my colleagues who have made a great effort in the competition, and hope that many of the measures continue as part of new, more climate-smart habits."

Facts about Ducky

Ducky has three tools that can contribute to accelerating climate emission reduction in Norway.

Ducky Footprints - makes footprints accessible and understandable to the entire population. It also gives municipal planners the opportunity to explore change that is needed.  Analogously to how infection rates for Covid were presented, we now map the average footprint per citizen. If we reduce this in line with the targets in the Paris Agreement, we will reach the climate targets. This should therefore be the only climate target we communicate to citizens to avoid climate becoming too complicated.

Ducky Insights - shares climate data and insights that help businesses become pioneers and effectively mobilize their customers. Businesses can also make data available as Ducky Footprints is updated and demonstrate the change we create together.

Ducky Challenge - Makes it possible to act today. Removes barriers and shows that change is possible and easy.

Facts about Sparebank 1 SMN

SpareBank 1 SMN has group-wide processes and an agenda for sustainability. Sustainability must be integrated in all parts of the company through:

  • Innovation – We invite and engage in collaboration with research environments, clusters and customers in all phases of a company's life cycle. Our goal is to contribute to business development and jobs in our region.
  • Customer offers – We offer green products and services to help our customers succeed in the green transition.
  • Climate impact – We keep company-wide energy and climate accounts, and are the first depositors in SINTEF's climate fund that researches climate-positive measures (carbon removal).
  • Competence – We have developed a competence program for our own employees and companies in the region, and annually measure sustainability in business and the public sector in the Sustainability Barometer for Trøndelag and Møre.
  • Diversity – We have a separate forum for diversity, inclusion and equal treatment that will contribute to SpareBank 1 SMN being an inclusive workplace with equal opportunities for everyone.

This is Ducky's at its core:

"We are all individuals and we would like to contribute both at home and at work. We must therefore make it visible that our actions mean a lot and enable actors to act."


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About Sofie Bjørkøy

Sustainability advisor.