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Dear New Government. Don't Forget the Green Transition

28. Oct 2022

More than half of the companies that have embarked on a transition to a circular economy need design skills to succeed. We must invest in design as a strategy, write our CEO Christian Bason and Chairman Camilla Haustrup Hermansen

Quick insight

Photo: Oliver Herlitschek

By Christian Bason and Camilla Haustrup Hermansen, Deputy CEO and co-owner, Plus Pack, Chair for DDC, and Chair of DI Production

Denmark should be more than a global role model for the green transition; we must show the world that it’s possible to be both financially and socially sustainable simultaneously. That is one of the key drivers in the platform for the new Danish government, which also calls for more collaboration with businesses around the ambitious climate targets.

Design is a crucial driver for the green transition and for competitiveness, growth, and development in Danish businesses. Design benefits not only the economic bottom line but also us as consumers and, not least, the planet. Denmark is a proud design nation, famous for our furniture and product design. But today, we can do so much more with design if we dare to invest in it.

Design can do more than we think

We know that we need to change the way we design, produce and consume if we want to reach our climate goals. We also know that up to 80% of a product’s climate footprint is determined in the design phase. Design is much more than product development and aesthetics: design skills are evident throughout the entire value chain, from idea and conceptualization to packaging and transport.

A new study conducted by The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and DDC, “Design Delivers Green,” shows that Danish companies have increasingly become more aware of the fact that design can create economic value and long-term innovation. Design is also becoming more and more widespread throughout companies. Around 90% of the companies that use design strategically say that it has a positive impact on the bottom line. More specifically, design strengthens the brand, competitiveness, and customer satisfaction. However, unlocking the potential of design as a key to achieving our climate goals still proves to be a challenging mission for many.

According to the survey, as many as 85% of Danish companies have begun a transition to a more circular economy, where materials and resources are recycled and regenerated instead of being thrown away after each use. However, less than half of the companies believe that they have the skills needed to achieve the goal of the green transition successfully. The specific lack of skills includes customer understanding, understanding of materials, and understanding of new sustainable products and services – all core competencies within the design field. We need to ensure that there is a fundamental framework in place for these skills to be continuously developed and supported so that more and more companies can benefit from them.

Competitive advantage for Denmark

The transition to a circular business model provides a clear competitive advantage. The new study shows that 82% of all companies that embrace a fully circular business model see a positive impact on the bottom line. The transition involves rethinking design, production, sales, and expenses to use resources in a smarter way. Materials are allocated to new products and reused, shared, or sold as a service. If we view the transition through a broader societal lens, we see that design will be able to accelerate the green transition within Denmark, but also the rest of the world. If design methods and processes are used correctly, we can bring together relevant stakeholders across sectors, set a common, sustainable direction, and motivate people to act differently.

In the coming years, Danish design, architecture, and art will support the green transition in eight major European cities. This effort is part of the visionary “New European Bauhaus” initiative from the European Commission, where Denmark was selected to create new solutions at the intersection of new knowledge and creative skills across Europe. The bid, led by the BLOX partners (DDC, Danish Architecture Center, Creative Denmark, and BLOXHUB) and The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), was supported by no less than seven ministries and is a shining example of how we can leverage the value of our creative industries and professions to create an irresistible, sustainable future for all.

So, dear new government: Yes, Denmark is a country with a long and proud design tradition, and we can do so much more than design furniture. But it will not happen by itself: We must invest in design as a strategy and a method, and we must ensure that both businesses and societies can benefit from the transformative power of Danish design. DDC is ready to continue the collaboration to create a more sustainable, circular, and green future.

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