The largest and capital city of Greenland, Nuuk, has recently achieved a Bronze Benchmarking, meaning the city has completed the first three (out of six) steps towards becoming a sustainable destination and nearing becoming the first certified capital in the world.
1. How is Nuuk sustainable?
Partnering with EarthCheck in its Sustainable Destinations program, the municipality of Sermersooq, within which Nuuk is situated, is following a program which aims to facilitate the development and management of responsible and sustainable tourism for communities. It provides communities with a framework to benchmark and certify their environmental and social performance, enabling them to continuously improve. The program is also designed to empower the local community, to help them take ownership of sustainability goals and build on their own local initiatives. It is on this program that the city has received its Bronze Benchmarking.
Nuuk is working towards a set of sustainability goals and has allocated the appropriate resources towards achieving this. There are 20 indicators on sustainability within the program, and Nuuk performs excellently on 16 of these, where it scores above best practices for all. However there is still work to be done on 4 indicators, including greenhouse gas emissions. The city has also delivered the first set of environmental data, which will serve as a comparison in yearly audits which will test the city’s continuous performance. Nuuk’s next step to achieving sustainability is now a risk assessment and a multi-year action plan for continuous improvement.
2. The future of Nuuk
Nuuk has the potential to become the first capital in the world to be certified as a sustainable destination under the EarthCheck Destination Standard, and many people are very excited about this, as well as the prospect of Nuuk becoming an example for other cities and locations. André Russ, Vice President of Sales at EarthCheck, explained, ‘At EarthCheck we are committed to help businesses, communities and governments deliver results that are both good for the planet and good for businesses. We are very impressed with how the Municipality of Sermersooq have remained committed to delivering sustainable results despite being in the midst of a global pandemic. We hope to see others follow suit’. Charlotte Ludvigsen, Mayor of the Municipality of Sermersooq, added, ‘The EarthCheck Benchmarking Performance Report provides a solid starting place. It not only demonstrates that we are seriously committed to tackling this challenge but information will be visible to both current and potential business partners as well as the growing number of tourists, for whom sustainability is a key issue’.
3. Tourism in Greenland
Situated in the Arctic, Nuuk offers incredible nature experiences as well as a lively culture, and there are great hopes for the city’s sustainability in further boosting tourism to the area. Salik Hard, senior project manager of the efforts, explained, ‘In order to maintain an authentic experience for our future visitors, we are very focused on preserving our community and the environment around it. We want tourism to be an active part in preserving the planet and our community. Sustainability is the way forward’.
The country’s tourism board, Visit Greenland, is happy to see the capital rising to the challenge and becoming a sustainable tourism destination. Julia Pars, Managing Director of Visit Greenland, said, ‘Tourists are becoming more socially aware of their responsibility to the environment and the local communities they visit when they travel. We are proud that our nation’s capital is stepping up to this big challenge to become the first certified sustainable capital in the world’. Mayor Ludvigsen reinforced this, adding, ‘We want to be the first capital in the world with a sustainability certificate – and we want to attract those who share our vision for a sustainable future’.