From global goals to local action. How we implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Asker municipality

Download the Report From global goals to local action (PDF)


Asker is a new municipality in 2020, following a merger between Hurum, Røyken and Asker municipalities. We use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an overall and integral framework for our new large municipality, because we are part of a larger whole and it helps us expand our perspective. This means that we remain aware of our global responsibility while working to achieve sustainable local communities.

Here, we have compiled an overview of what we have done so far to make the 17 SDGs relevant to our municipality, and how we will work to achieve the goals going forward.

The work with the SDGs has already inspired us to work across political and professional divides. In addition, we see that the goals inspire our citizens, businesses and NGOs.

We find that the SDGs give us many opportunities to work together for the benefit of the Asker community - and in solidarity with the rest of the world.
I hope this will inspire continued efforts towards sustainable solutions, both locally and globally!

Lene W. Conradi, Mayor, Asker municipality


Sustainable development is about taking care of the needs of today's people, without ruining the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are the world's common plan to eradicate poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change by 2030.

The SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets that will provide countries, businesses and civil society with a common, global direction. The goals are divided into three dimensions - economic sustainability, social sustainability and environmental sustainability. The sustainability goals apply to all countries in the world, and the government has committed Norway to work to achieve those goals.

Through "National expectations for regional and municipal planning 2019-2023", the government provides clear guidance for municipalities to use the SDGs as the basis for community and land planning.

Asker has challenges related to all three dimensions of sustainability. Climate change is serious, lower economic growth is expected, the proportion of working age people is declining, and the inequalities in society are growing. Therefore, when the municipality makes decisions, they must be evaluated on the basis of all three dimensions. The municipality will ensure that the entire Asker community is involved in the work to achieve the environmental, financial and social goals.

How do we do it?

The most important tasks of the municipality are to provide good services to its citizens, ensure a holistic social development and facilitate an open and inclusive local democracy.

To achieve this, we must ensure both efficient operation, the necessary development work and innovation in line with the needs of the community and its inhabitants.


It has been decided that the UN SDGs shall constitute the overall framework for the development of the Asker community. The SDGs will help us expand our perspective, steer in the right direction and develop good solutions locally that also contribute globally. If the municipality is to succeed in translating the global goals into local action and practices, the SDGs must be integrated into all management, planning and governance.

We do this through our strategic plans, as part of the ordinary measurement and management system and in the budget work. Asker has developed its own set of indicators on which the organisation is measured, and we use national and international indicators and make them local.

Management is crucial in order to succeed in the sustainability work within our own organization. The SDGs give the direction for management in the municipality, and how the individual employee works in everyday life. Therefore, sustainable management and leadership development are part of the work of building a new municipality. All municipal leaders participate in a two-year management programme.

The municipal plan's social aspect

In the work on Asker's municipal master plan, the municipality's overall strategic governing document, the elected representatives have prioritised work on the following Sustainable Development Goals during the first municipal master plan period:

  • Goal 3 Good health and well-being
  • Goal 4 Good education
  • Goal 9 Innovation and infrastructure
  • Goal 11 Sustainable cities and communities
  • Goal 13 Stop climate change
  • Goal 17 Collaboration to achieve goals

These goals now form the basis for eight focus areas in the draft municipal master plan for the 2020-2032 period:

  • Collaboration to reach the goals
  •  Sustainable cities and communities
  • Action against climate change
  • Good health
  • Good education
  • Innovation, digitalisation and business development
  • Economy
  • Employees

The 17 main goals are broad and relatively general, while the 169 targets are more limited and specific. The challenges vary both between countries and locally in each country. Therefore, the targets do not cover all the challenges we face nationally and locally, and the UN encourages local adjustments. In addition, we see that many of the SDGs have been formulated as a mix of goals and strategies.

In our efforts to make the goals relevant to Asker and adapt them to our planning and management system, we have made the following changes:

  • Goals and targets have been reformulated to better match our local conditions, while ensuring linkage with the original UN goals.
  • All of the goals have been refined by removing the strategy formulations, and relevant strategy formulations have been reused or rewritten as strategies for the targets.
  • We have had to formulate some very specific targets that relate to challenges that are not specifically expressed in the UN targets.

The result of this work is that the proposal for a municipal master plan for the period 2020-2032 consists of a total of eight goals and 28 targets. Approximately half of the targets are based on the UN targets, but adapted and made relevant to Asker. The other targets relate to other challenges facing the Asker community. All focus areas in the municipal plan are cross-sectoral and apply to all service areas. We must work together across sectors to achieve the development we want. Nevertheless, the goals affect the service areas differently, and some goals are particularly relevant to some service areas.

Here is how we did it - examples of goals, strategies and indicators

Below is an example of how, based on the Sustainable Development Goals, Asker municipality has defined goals, targets and strategies for one of the areas of focus in the municipal master plan, namely Good health and wellbeing.

Main goals

Original UN goal 

Ensure good health and promote quality of life for
everyone, regardless of age.

Reference: UN-Target 3.

Main goal - Good health and well-being

The Asker community ensures good health and promotes quality of life for all, regardless of age.

Targets and strategies

Original UN goal 

By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.

Reference: UN-Target 3.8

Targets Good health and well-being

The Asker community will, thorough health promotion and prevention achieve good public health, prevent exclusion and reduce the risk of illness and premature death.

Strategies - Good health and well-being

  • Asker municipality will focus its resource efforts on health-promoting and preventive work and activities. 
    Reference: Asker municipality
  • Asker municipality will make it possible for citizens to live active lives and live safely in their own homes for as long as possible.
    Reference: Asker municipality
  • Asker municipality will facilitate information and educational measures and other means that help citizens make good choices for their own health and quality of life.
    Reference: UN-Target 12.8, Asker municipality
  • Asker municipality will promote work on the prevention of substance abuse and treatment of drug-related injuries.
    Reference: UN-Target 3.5
  • Asker municipality will work actively to ensure that all citizens follow the vaccine programme. 
    Reference: UN-Target 3.8
  • In cooperation with various actors, Asker municipality will work actively to prevent exclusion and the consequences of social inequalities, and to promote a sense of belonging and community participation.
    Reference: UN-Target 10.2

Original UN goal 

Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Reference: UN-Target 3.8

Targets Good health and well-being

Citizens have access to basic, holistic and sound health services of good quality and on time.

Strategies - Good health and well-being

Asker municipality will ensure a differentiated service offering, holistic user processes, good interdisciplinary coordination and a strategic and flexible resource management. 
Reference: Asker municipality

Targets Good health and well-being

Residents who receive health services live active and independent lives, take responsibility for their own health and participate in designing the services based on the individual's conditions and needs.

Strategies - Good health and well-being

Asker municipality will facilitate active user participation.

Asker municipality will work actively with various actors to mobilise the citizens' own resources and networks, and to facilitate self-mastery and participation in the community.
Reference: Asker municipality

Targets Good health and well-being

Asker municipality actively collaborates with citizens, voluntary resources and the business community to meet the health challenges of the future.

Strategies - Good health and well-being

In collaboration with various actors, Asker municipality will develop and coordinate activities and measures that promote good health and quality of life.
Reference: Asker municipality

Indicators, measurement and reporting

We use indicators to measure whether the municipal organisation is progressing towards the goals we have set and to indicate specific political ambitions for the various targets.

The UN has prepared a set of indicators related to the various targets, and Statistics Norway (SSB) evaluated these against Norwegian conditions. In anticipation of further national work on indicators, based on Statistics Norway's memorandum of 2018/01, Asker Municipality has defined some preliminary indicators related to each focus area in the municipal master plan. We have chosen national indicators where the figures for Asker can be compared with those of other municipalities and regions.

Preliminary indicators for the focus area of Good health

Good health and well-being

 Data source
Percentage of upper secondary students who are satisfied with their own health (percent) Ungdata
Vaccination coverage (measles) among 9-year-olds (percent) Municipal Health Statistics Bank (Kommunehelsa)
Percentage of children in low-income households acc. to municipal low-income thresholds (EU-60) (percent) Municipal Health Statistics Bank (Kommunehelsa)
Proportion of the population aged 0–74 years with musculoskeletal disorders (per 1000) Municipal Health Statistics Bank (Kommunehelsa)
Percentage of upper secondary students who say they have drunk so much that they have clearly felt intoxicated at least once in the past year (percent) Ungdata

ISO certification

Asker Municipality wants to be ISO certified according to the ISO 9001 quality standard and the two new standards ISO 18091 on sustainability and 37120 for sustainable cities and communities. This will help us strengthen and concretise the work on sustainability goals throughout the organisation.

Collaboration to reach the goals

Asker municipality has a clear ambition for community and service development with a high degree of citizen participation and collaboration with relevant actors to address the Sustainable Development Goals. Collaboration to achieve the goals represents opportunities for innovation with a focus on social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Working together in new ways challenges traditional ways of working, and there is therefore a need to build new competence in the municipality and in civil society, as well as new models for leadership and organisation in networks and partnerships.

The municipality should be a driving force and stimulate a broad cooperation to solve societal challenges. Through innovative partnerships with various community actors, business and social entrepreneurs, the municipality will facilitate a comprehensive and coordinated development of society and services, contributing to good and inclusive communities.

Asker establishes a new centre for innovation and learning

The centre will be the municipality's common resource centre and powerhouse for open social innovation based on the SDGs.

In order to achieve a better, more coordinated and effective investment in community and service development in collaboration with the business community, a programme for sustainable development is established at the centre. The programme will include Smart Citybased on a sustainable development that involves a holistic financial, social and environmental responsibility.

Main features of the future innovation centre are:

  • Service and community innovation
  • Digital transformation
  • Programme for smart and sustainable communities
  • Project and portfolio office
  • Innovation lab
  • Leadership and organisational development
  • Learning and sharing arena
  • Active and value-adding collaboration and partnership

The centre brings together the municipality's expertise in innovation and collaboration, service design, project management, innovative procurement and digitalisation. Mechanisms are established that ensure that the municipal organisation safeguards this competence internally, but also to ensure good cooperation between the municipality, business life, research and academia.

The UN Network of Excellence

In order to support local work and build strong partnerships for sustainable development in cities and towns, several Norwegian municipalities, county councils, organisations and companies have initiated a cooperation with the UN under the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) umbrella. As part of this effort, a national Network of Excellence on SDG Societal Transition has been established in Norway. The network originates from The Geneva UN Charter Centre of Excellence on SDG City Transition in Trondheim, established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Asker municipality participates in the network together with Trondheim, Stavanger, Ålesund and Bærum municipalities. The network works based on a framework developed by Trondheim municipality and NTNU, in collaboration with Limerick City and Council in Ireland. The framework represents a holistic approach to smart sustainable societal change. It accounts for important activities and processes, and thus provides the municipalities with a useful management tool when deciding what can happen when, and which activities and actors are each other’s prerequisites. The goal is to increase the speed of the transition work in the municipalities.

The illustration shows the framework for a comprehensive transition for cities and communities:

Tabell fra Fn

Situation analysis 2019

In the autumn of 2019, Asker Municipality will conduct a baseline measurement to obtain a knowledge base for further development and prioritisation of activities related to the implementation of the SDGs. We will use a methodology developed by United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC). The methodology is based on SDG 11: "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable" and 92 indicators.

The indicators are designed to give cities and communities a consistent and standardised method for data collection and measurement of efforts and development in order to:

  • achieve sustainable development 
  • become a smarter city/community
  • become a more sustainable city/community

The indicators enable Asker to measure progress over time, compare their own efforts to those of other cities and communities, and facilitate the dissemination of best practices.

Use in Asker

The survey will provide us with a basis for targeted development measures in all of the municipality's areas of work when implementing the SDGs. This will form the basis of knowledge for our Sustainable Asker programme, and will serve as a benchmark for the programme and for the municipal plan's social component.

The results of the survey can highlight approach choices in policy formulation in theme plans and needs prior to organisational and leadership development.

We can compare Asker Municipality to other municipalities, particularly within the Network of Excellence, and the survey will form the basis for cooperation on the development and exchange of competence and methodology between municipalities.

Last but not least, we hope the survey can be used as an incentive for dialogue with business, academia and other community actors about innovative partnerships and projects.

Involvement and knowledge sharing

If we are to stand a chance of reaching the goals of Agenda 2030, we must mobilise not just the municipality's elected officials and administration, but residents, businesses, NGOs and the voluntary community as well. In the new Asker, we use various approaches to spread knowledge about the SDGs and their relevance to our local community. We do this in different ways:

Innovation Camp 2018

Innovation camp was held at all lower secondary schools in Asker, Røyken and Hurum in June 2018. The theme was the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The 8th Grade pupils worked for two days on how they can help solve one of the SDGs. The pupils were divided into 230 groups, all the groups presented their proposals to a jury consisting of representatives from the municipalities and the local business community. The three winners  had proposals related to public transport in a new municipality, sustainability as an independent school subject and a digital solution related to mental health.

The Innovation Camp was conducted in collaboration with Ungt entreprenørskap, Young Entrepreneurship.

The 2018 Asker Conference: Youth

In 2018, the Asker Conference was held on October 24, the United Nations Day. Along with youth representatives from the UN organisation UN Habitat, 55 youths from Asker, Røyken and Hurum participated in workshops and prepared input for a sustainable development of the new municipality.

Both Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Minister for Local Government and Modernisation Monica Mæland and Minister for Children and Equality Linda Hofstad Helleland were present at the conference to hear how the youth proposed that the new municipality can be built in line with the SDGs.

The input from the conference has been compiled in the Asker Conference report.

Bilde av ordfører i Asker Lene Conradi, statsminister Erna Solberg, ordfører i Hurum Monica Vee Bratli sammen med to ungdomsrepreentanter fra Askerkonferansen

Night walk on the United Nations Day

Spreading knowledge about sustainability goals and involving our citizens in different ways is an important part of our sustainability work. As part of this work, on the UN Day on October 24, 2018, we organised a night walk up Vardåsen for all inhabitants of Asker, Røyken and Hurum, in order to highlight the SDGs, but also to bring citizens together over some common values and mark the merger of the three municipalities. Along the walk up the Vardåsen ski slope, participants were introduced to all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in various ways.

Sustainability work in school

On its meeting on November 21, 2017, the Young People's Local Government (DUK) in Asker decided that all the principals should prepare a teaching course on the Sustainable Development Goals at all levels of Asker schools. During 2018 and 2019, all schools in the new Asker Municipality have worked on the SDGs. We believe schools are a good arena for spreading knowledge about the SDGs and creating understanding among children and young people in our municipality.

We are therefore very pleased that knowledge of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and sustainable development has become part of the national curriculum of 2020, so that we can continue the good sustainability work being done in the Asker schools.

Sustainability pilots

Over the course of 2019, seven units of the Asker and Røyken municipalities have tested possible new initiatives for the SDGs within their own operations. The seven units are: Project and development, Borgensonen daycare centres, Hagaløkka school, Landøya after school, Brukertorget, Community health and integration and Sydskogen school.

The purpose of the pilot is twofold:

  1. Test out methodology for operationalising the goals through specific measures, including risk and opportunity assessment, so that this can be used as a tool for all units from 2020.
  2. Come up with good examples of new and sustainable measures, as inspiration for other units in the process of planning operations for 2020.

The results of the pilot work will be presented in a separate report and will inspire further work in all municipal units from 2020.

The business community

Our local business community is strongly involved in the sustainability work. Some companies, such as Tomra and IKEA, have been and remain leading companies both locally and internationally. But small and medium-sized businesses have also taken ownership and shown an interest in the SDGs.

Through the Asker business council, they have established their own sustainability network and, for two consecutive years, they have arranged networking days with sustainability as the theme. In addition, the business council offers its own competence programme for small and medium-sized businesses on how sustainability work can increase the company's competitiveness.

Examples of how we work

Omattatt - creative recycling workshop

The association Omattatt works with recycling and circular economy in practice and is a collaborative project between Heggedal Nærmiljøsentral and Asker municipality.

At the local recycling workshop, we teach citizens to see the resources in our waste and transform materials into something "new". The sustainable recycling workshop has a large treasure trove of recycled materials, tools and equipment.

The recycling workshop organises open days, workshops and courses so that those who want to can do something new, learn something new, upgrade or repair - all in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Omattatt is primarily run by volunteers, and all residents are welcome to participate, either by learning about or sharing their knowledge of recycling projects.

Omattatt - creative recycling workshop is funded with support from Asker municipality, the Workers' Common Economic Association (AØF) Friheim, Akershus County Council, Sparebankstiftelsen DNB and the Environmental Directorate.

Recycling - relocation of employees

As a result of the municipal merger, around 650 employees in the new Asker will change their place of work, and 15 to 20 buildings will be affected. In this process, Project Recycle has been created to avoid throwing away inventory that can be recycled, repaired or re-designed.

At all relevant premises, inventory, furniture and building materials have been mapped for recycling. Two summer students from the REdu collaboration, the waste and recycling industry's great competence lift, have digitised the information in a new digital platform, GreenStock. The platform enables recycling of materials and inventory and calculates savings in both financial terms and building waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Asker municipality has an innovation collaboration with Zero Emission Developments AS, who developed the platform.

The relocation project is a great opportunity to work with recycling in practice. "Recycling" is a good starting point for further work on recycling in the new Asker, and provides useful experiences and inspiration.

The project has received funding from the Environmental Directorate's Climate Investment Fund, which is a support scheme for climate measures in the municipalities.

Regional centre for Marine Pollution

In collaboration with Cnytt industry cluster and Mepex, Asker municipality has carried out a preliminary project to investigate the possibility of a regional centre for marine pollution.

With the Oslo coast's longest coastline, and as one of the most populous areas in the country, the new Asker municipality wants to be a leading municipality when it comes to reducing pollution, release of microplastics into nature and circular economics.

A regional centre will give us new knowledge about the pollution of the fjord, and contribute to knowledge sharing between different actors. The competence centre will house innovation and business development, dissemination and research.

The project has received support from Buskerud County Council. Asker municipality also contributes funds.

Idea bank for sustainable daycare centres

Through the pilot project on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, we have looked at what we do and what practices we have that can be related to the SDGs. It turns out that a lot of measures fit, which spawned the idea of compiling all the good initiatives in an idea bank.

In the idea bank, we share specific measures that can be taken in daycare centres to meet the SDGs. Some measures are small and require little, others require more time, planning, finances and organisation.

In the idea bank, you get inspiration and specific recipes on how to implement the measures in your own daycare centre. When measures are introduced, sustainability points are earned in the bank. We also want to make it possible to add measures to the bank, so that we can share good practices.

We have around 50 unique measures related to the Sustainable Development Goals. There is a wide range of measures, from simple measures such as physical activity and play to promote good health, exchange cabinets to facilitate recycling and reduce consumption, to major initiatives such as a transitional educators between daycare and school and inclusive lunch. Our goal with the idea bank is to make it easier for daycare staff to think sustainably and put the goals into practice.

Ethical investment strategy and financial management

When Asker municipality invests, we must follow the UN rules for responsible investment, the Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI) and the Government Pension Fund Global's ethical guidelines.

Our entire portfolio must consist of sustainable and responsible investments. Therefore, all our financial service providers have received our ethical regulations and been instructed not to offer the municipality products that violate these regulations.

Among other things, these guidelines include the exclusion of companies that produce inhumane weapons. Furthermore, companies must be excluded if there is an obvious and unacceptable risk that, through its investments, the municipality will contribute to gross or systematic violations of human rights, such as torture, deprivation of liberty, forced labour and child labour, serious violation of individuals' rights in war or conflict situations, serious environmental damage, gross corruption and other violations of basic ethical norms.

FutureBuilt, a collaboration for sustainable buildings and urban areas

Asker municipality is a FutureBuilt partner. This is a 10-year programme that will end in 2020. FutureBuilt's vision is to demonstrate that it is possible to develop climate-neutral urban areas with high-quality architecture.
FutureBuilt is to develop model projects that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the buildings from a lifecycle perspective, both during the construction phase and their operation.

The goal is a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from energy, materials and transport relative to today's standards. The pilot projects that are part of the FutureBuilt programme commit to meeting a set of quality criteria, as well as documenting that these qualities are actually achieved.

The model projects must have a high architectural quality and contribute to a good urban environment. FutureBuilt is a national and international showcase, and will stimulate innovation and changed practices.

Model projects in Asker

Kistefossdammen daycare centre

Kistefossdammen daycare centre in Heggedal is one of Asker Municipality's first model projects in the FutureBuilt programme.

Holmen swimming pool

The Holmen swimming pool was completed in the spring of 2017, and is one of the country's most energy-efficient swimming facilities.

Korpåsen group home

Asker municipality is building a new group home with 12 housing units for people with disabilities at Gullhella in Asker.

The homes will be very energy-efficient - close to the zero-energy standard. Electricity is provided by a full 250 m2 of solar cells on the roofs. The building will be supplied with local, renewable energy from energy wells.

FutureBike bicycle declaration

Until 2020, the FutureBuilt municipalities of Asker, Bærum, Oslo and Drammen will collaborate on FutureBike, a joint political declaration of intent regarding bicycle initiatives. The cross-party climate agreement states that all growth in passenger transport must take place in public transport, bicycling and walking.

Bicycle park in Heggedal

Trans'matorn bicycle park in Heggedal was Asker's first FutureBuilt model project.

Green loan financing

The municipality saves millions through green loan financing for environmentally friendly investments. Asker municipality has chosen Kommunalbankens green loans to finance the FutureBuilt projects Kistefossdammen daycare centre and the Holmen swimming pool. Over ten years, the municipality will save NOK 3 million on interest expenses.

Green loans are granted to projects that lead to reduced energy consumption or less greenhouse gas emissions, or contribute to local climate adaptation.

Fossil-free construction site

By 2025, all municipal building and construction sites in Asker must be free of fossil fuels and emissions. A fossil-free construction site is a construction site that does not use fossil energy sources. This means that all construction equipment must run on non-fossil fuel.

The municipality is currently building a new competence centre for vocational training and work inclusion for people with disabilities with a fossil-free construction site. The building itself has water-borne heating, geo-wells and rooftop solar installations, just as an electrically powered wheel loader is used, which is emission-free in operation.

This electric construction machine alone equals a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from construction sites of 13.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year. These emission reductions in the same magnitude as a 100-passenger plane flying from Oslo to Malaga, or a medium-sized passenger car making the Asker-Trondheim round-trip 115 times.