The new Asker municipality is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

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Now that we are building a completely new municipality, we find ourselves in a unique situation. Together, we are able to think in new ways and take new steps in pursuit of the further development of sustainable, healthy and inclusive local communities.

The municipality has responsibilities towards its residents throughout their lives, and we want to ensure a development that does not compromise on the ability of our future generations to meet their needs.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are developed to do this, by including the environment, economic matters and social development in a collective context. They indicate that democracy, good governance and a society where the rule of law is respected, are crucial for sustainable development.

For this reason, we wish to make the Sustainable Development Goals the framework of the Municipal Master Plan for the new municipality. In doing so, we can fulfil the idea of taking action locally and thinking globally, as well as ensure relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals in a local context. The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide an exciting framework for local policy, putting our own policies and priorities into an international perspective.

In order to achieve the goals, we need everyone on the same team. I hope residents, businesses and voluntary organisations will join us so that we together can pursue a course of great importance for both the present and the future.

Lene W. Conradi, Leader of the joint executive council


Norway is undergoing a local municipal reform. The goal is to build bigger, stronger local authorities. As part of the reform, Hurum, Røyken and Asker have decided to merge in 2020. The new municipality is to be called Asker. The three municipalities decided at an early stage that the new municipality should not only be built on ”best practice” but on ”next practice”.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals came into force in January 2016. At the same time, Hurum, Røyken and Asker had just started planning their future merging. It was natural, therefore, for the three municipalities to use the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for building the new Asker municipality.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are proving to be a good starting point and have inspired the three municipalities to see new, sustainable possibilities. While the goals are to do with large, overarching issues, they nevertheless concern each and every one of us. The Sustainable Development Goals provide us with a wider perspective; help us to steer in the right direction and to develop good local solutions that also contribute globally.

Illustration of the planning prosess. The Municipality of Asker/Pure Consulting

A global dimension in the Municipal Master Plan

A local authority is responsible for many tasks that contribute to sustainable development. Local authorities provide health services, education, housing policy, infrastructure, clean water and refuse collection and disposal. They manage land, housing, amenities and facilities, ensure a balance between urban and green spaces, and implement measures to reduce climate impact.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals bring a new dimension to local authority planning.

The SDG logo

Our method for using the Sustainable Development Goals

Throughout 2017, the New Asker project management worked to discover the best way of utilising the UN Sustainable Development Goals as an overlying framework for the Municipal Master Plan and subordinate plans. Both elected officials and administration representatives worked together on the project. The work resulted in a method for translating the goals to our local reality and making them relevant for our community.

In developing this method, local politicians worked across party political lines and traditional sectoral thinking. The Sustainable Development Goals have thus additionally contributed to creating a shared position.

The triangular model below illustrates the process by starting with the global goals and concretising them into local initiatives.



How we give global goals local relevance

At first glance, the Sustainable Development Goals may seem complicated and all-encompassing. Many people also feel that they are aimed particularly at developing countries. The goals have nevertheless been developed to apply to all countries and all people. For this reason, we have put a lot of work into defining the goals in relation to the world we live in and the municipal importance they can have for us and the local community we aim to develop.

In our work, we have systematically examined all the 17 goals and 169 targets. We have considered each individual goal and its significance for the new Asker municipality, and we have selected relevant targets and assessed the possibilities we have in reaching them in the future. Altogether, 84 targets have been selected. We have also looked at the challenges indicated by the goals that may be relevant to the municipality.

Also, we have started outlining strategies to reach the targets, and to identify the relevant local interest groups that may participate in our work for the goals. The model below shows the method’s three levels.

Our method for using the SDGs illustrasjonWe choose targets where we can have the most impact

The methodological tool provides a broad-based starting point and a thorough approach to all 17 goals. The 17 goals constitute a whole but a developing municipality needs to prioritise.

All 17 goals are important, but we need to prioritise. Therefore we have carried out a materiality assessment to identify the goals we can influence directly, as well as the areas for which the municipality has, or should take, direct responsibility to develop a healthy local community and offer adequate services to its citizens.

Illustrasjon av satsingsområder

In further work with the Municipal Master Plan, we shall undertake a closer evaluation of which goals the municipality is to prioritise. Provisional priorities are as follows:

  • GOAL 3 Good health and well-being
  • GOAL 4 Quality education
  • GOAL 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • GOAL 11 Sustainable cities and communities
  • GOAL 13 Climate action
  • GOAL 17 Partnerships for the goals

We believe Goal 17 is a prerequisite of achieving the other goals. As a local authority, we are unable to do this alone. We must work together with our citizens, businesses and the voluntary sector.

The Sustainable Development Goals are not just for show, they are to be monitored. To this end, we will develop measurement tools to assess our progress towards the goals.

New Asker is now taking part in a research and development project under the auspices of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS). Indicators for the UN Sustainable Development Goals are to be a part of this measurement tool.

We shall involve the local community

We find that the Sustainable Development Goals create enthusiasm and increased cooperation across party political lines. We also believe that they contribute to our shared identity as a new municipality. Up to now, it has largely been politicians and administrative officers that have worked on developing the framework. In further work with the Municipal Master Plan – to be completed in 2020 – the local community, including young people, business and others, is to be involved in a participatory process. To encourage interest and involvement, we must make citizens familiar with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition we want our work to inspire other municipalities, businesses and local communities in Norway and elsewhere.

We are well on our way with this. All primary and secondary schools in Hurum, Røyken and Asker have teaching programmes about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Innovation Camp for all 8th grade students and the Asker Conference on UN Day are examples of how we involve the local community.

Examples of how we are working today

Goal 3 Good health and well-being
Swimming facilities promoting public health

Swimming is much more than just physical activity. Holmen, Røyken and Risenga Public swimming pool have all become key meeting places and public health facilities in our local communities. Here, people are able to train, exercise, play and be social without any performance standards.

Goal 3 Good health and well-being & Goal 17 Partnership for the goals
Asker Welfare Lab

An important public service task is to ensure that vulnerable residents experience improvement in their life situation. At Asker Welfare Lab, the municipality thinks like an investor. When we invest in people, we show that we believe in them and see their opportunities and resources. Asker Welfare Lab is a way of working and an approach for joint action and resident involvement, not a new service. At Asker Welfare Lab, the municipality works together in new ways, both internally and with other government agencies, businesses and the voluntary sector.

Goal 13 Climate action
Hurum residential care centre

The new municipality must think in terms of energy efficiency and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Hurum residential care centre, which is to be built at Filtvet, is a project in keeping with the Smart Hurum concept. This means, among other things, that the centre is to have a high environmental standard and is to be constructed as an energyplus-house. It is an ambitious project, once again based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 4 Quality education
Digital learning in schools

Digital skills will be crucial for future residents and employees. Digital development will influence, for example, our capabilities in relation to solving climate change, how artificial intelligence and robotisation can ensure an efficient society and how an aging population can manage alone longer with the aid of technology. The digital learning project will help ensure that our children are equipped for the society of the future. The project is under way in Asker and Hurum and all schools and kindergartens in the new Asker are to take part.

Goal 11 Sustainable cities and communities
Vestre Billingstad

Vestre Billingstad is a completely new residential area with around 1650 new housing units, kindergarten and a local shopping centre. The area will combine urban living with green-space qualities. The area is to feature easy-care housing, green outdoor spaces with meeting places, proximity to buses and trains, a kindergarten and local shopping centre and easy access to both sea and forest. Facilitation of sustainable mobility means, among other things, reducing residents’ needs for transport by situating functions and facilities within walking and cycling distance, establishing direct pedestrian and cycle routes and efficient routes to public transport and maintaining high quality pedestrian and cycle facilities and car-sharing schemes. All this will contribute to little internal car traffic.

Goal 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Non-fossil fuel ferry between Slemmestad-Vollen-Aker Brygge

In 2017, Buskerud, Akershus and Oslo county councils initiated a report for an emissions-free ferry service in the Oslo Fjord as a replacement for the current diesel-powered ferries. The new Asker municipality seeks to be a driving force
in the establishment of a fossil-fuel-free ferry service between Sætre and Oslo as soon as possible and is considering setting up a fund. The fund shall be earmarked new infrastructure and the various landing stages.

Goal 17 Partnerships for the goals
Local Community Centre as an arena for collaboration

The municipality wishes to encourage involvement and participation through volunteerism, partnership and citizenship. In order to facilitate working together to achieve our goals, we need adequate, accessible meeting places and arenas. A local community centre is such an arena where people can meet and work together for common interests – across public, civil and private sectors. In Heggedal, the community centre is already up and running and we will be establishing community centres in all new Asker communities on the way towards 2020.