Urbanization & Exports: Copenhagen conference on sustainable cities

21. November 2018

Danish companies offer many of the solutions and skills required internationally for building sustainable cities in a time of rapid urbanization and climate change. Today’s Urbanization & Exports conference in Copenhagen is the initial step towards making sustainable urban development a special focus for Danish exports and Danish economic diplomacy.

By 2050, the world’s urban areas will grow by almost 3 billion people. This creates a huge demand for sustainable urban solutions, and Denmark, with its significant and internationally renowned experience within sustainable urban development, has much to contribute.

The Urbanization & Exports conference is organized by the philanthropic organization, Realdania, and the Danish Foreign Policy Society.

Key note speakers include Centennial Scholar Bruce Katz from Brookings Institution (US), architect Bjarke Ingels from BIG, London’s Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues and Kevin Austin, Deputy Executive Director, C40.

300 professionals within the fields of construction, design, architecture, IT and innovation are attending the conference. In addition, there will also be a number of representatives from Danish embassies around the world who play a key role in realizing Danish growth potential.

Denmark’s Minister for Business and Growth, Troels Lund Poulsen, is attending the conference and sees it as an opportunity for a dialogue with Danish business about the potential of sustainable urban development.

Denmark’s Minister for Business and Growth comments:
"During the next couple of years the Danish government will launch a number of growth strategies within areas with particular growth potential. Sustainable urban development could be one of the potential growth areas, and in connection with the Urbanization & Exports conference, therefore, I have also invited 30 key business leaders in the areas of construction, design, architecture and IT to provide input on what a possible growth team could focus on to support the future growth and export of sustainable urban solutions.”

The Chair of the Danish Foreign Policy Society, Lykke Friis, comments:
The climate agreement in Paris and the realization of the UN’s sustainability goals are already a key element of Danish foreign policy. But we should also take it upon ourselves to prioritize and jointly target specific areas in the world where Denmark really has something to offer. We hope that the conference will help us achieve a focused export strategy for sustainable cities.”

Realdania’s Director of Philanthropy, Anne Skovbro comments:

"We are facing a need to innovate and implement sustainable urban solutions on a massive scale. And there is not one company, city or nation that has all the answers. To do it sustainably, we have to do it differently, and we have to do it internationally. We need a new kind of global teamwork between cities, companies, universities, communities and, of course, governments. Along with the other initiatives in and around C40 and BLOXHUB, I hope that the conference will help highlight the agenda and also the need for a strong framework for more international partnerships."

Urbanization & Exports is being held in connection with the innovation and growth hub, BLOXHUB, whose mission is to contribute to sustainable urbanization globally by developing innovative solutions spanning architecture, design, construction and digitalization. The focus of BLOXHUB is on cementing international relations as part of the effort to make Danish solutions the key to sustainable development in cities across the world.

  • • By 2050, about 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas.  In 1950, the figure was 30%. Today it’s currently around 54%.
    • Today, around 3.9 billion people live in urban areas. By 2050, this figure is expected to be around 6.8 billion. 
    • Cities cover 2-3% of the world’s land surface, consume 60-80% of the total energy and are responsible for around 75% of CO2 emissions. 
    • 95% of urbanisation is expected to take place in developing countries, particularly in Asia and Africa.  
    • Around 2.5 million new housing units need to be built every year in Africa. 
    • 60% of the land projected to become urban by 2030 is yet to be built. 1 billion new hous-ing units will be needed to house the world’s growing population by 2060.  
    • 75% of the world’s cities lie on a coastline and are thus particularly exposed to rising sea levels and extreme weather.
    • By 2030, demand for energy and water is expected to rise by 40% and 50% respectively.     
  • • Construction accounts for 2% of total Danish exports, corresponding to DKK 19 billion out of overall Danish exports of DKK 1,155 billion.
    • In 2015, Denmark’s export of energy technology totalled DKK 71.4 billion. Exports of energy technology accounted for 11.1% of the overall export of Danish goods in 2015. 


    BLOXHUB is an innovation and growth hub within sustainable urbanization – including architecture, design, construction and urban development. BLOXHUB is a non-profit association and was established in June 2016 by Realdania in co-operation with the City of Copenhagen and the Ministry for Business and Growth. One of its objectives is to support the interaction between private and public players, between large and small companies and between leading Danish and leading international players. The association is based at Fæstningens Materialgård at Copenhagen Harbor and will relocate to the BLOX building when completed in 2018. BLOX has been designed by the world renowned architectural firm, OMA. Read more at www.bloxhub.org


Denmark’s Minister for Business and Growth Troels Lund Poulsen, via Media Adviser Rasmus Holm Thomsen
T: +45 91 39 94 55

Chair of the Danish Foreign Policy Society Lykke Friis, via director Charlotte Flindt Pedersen
T: 29 29 82 86

Director of Philanthropy Anne Skovbro, Realdania, via Senior Press Officer Pia Møller Munksgaard
T: +45 70 11 66 66

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