Harnessing The Power of Creativity for a Greener Future


Creative Denmark releases white paper to accelerate green transition through creativity

All across Europe, a shift is happening. The shift is to a greener future, the so-called ‘green transition’, where consumers are starting to choose more sustainable paths, businesses are moving to more sustainable practices thanks to both consumer demand and green incentives, and communities, governments and societies at large can see the path ahead to a sustainable future. We can see where we need to go. But how to get there, and get there faster, remains a challenge for many. We have spent the last year at Creative Denmark looking deeply into how creativity can help accelerate this green transition and help individuals, business and societies create a sustainable future. Our new white paper ‘Creativity as a driver for green transition’, that will be launched September 19th, during Climate Week NYC, takes a deep dive into the hidden value of creativity as a tool to drive sustainable change and a green future. In this article you get a sneak peek to the topics we touch upon in the white paper. As Daria Krivonos, CEO of the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies notes in the white paper, change is uncomfortable, but there is no alternative to creating a sustainable world, so the sooner we can embrace it, the better.

“I believe that creativity is not only a key driver for the green transition, but also a vital tool for businesses looking to stay competitive in a rapidly changing world.”

Morten Bødskov, Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs.

Starting with the individual

There is a multilayered approach to the green transition that takes in individuals, businesses, and systemic change. Each of them plays their part in making the shift happen. Starting at the individual level, creativity has a role to play in helping shape behavioural change. If you consider how marketing and advertising industries use their understanding of how people behave and why to influence behaviour, you can see how it can help in shifting them towards a greener state of being.

Charlie Stjerneklar, CEO of Kreativitet & Kommunikation (Creativity & Communication, red.), the industry organisation looking after the communications and influence industry, has seen the power of Danish advertising agencies first hand, and cites positive examples of brands from Coors to IKEA using Danish creative ideas to shape these new, climate-friendly behaviours.

“While the creative toolbox we use hasn’t changed much,” he says, “it now is being put into action in new ways and for new purposes… We can change the world with creativity – if we want.”

Applying creativity to business models

Individual actions and behaviours are important, but so too are actions that take place on a larger scale, including rethinking how businesses operate. Moving the ethos from a ‘take, make, waste’ model to a circular business model takes effort, commitment, and creativity but is an essential action on a planet with finite resources. Critical creative thinking needs to be done to work through problems, educate staff and consumers, and fundamentally rethink how we do business as a whole. Problem-solving at scale with stakes on this level needs a level of daring and a willingness to experiment – traits that require creativity.

In the paper, Circular Economy Expert Sara Lindeblad Wingstrand of Boston Consulting Group discusses how this new business model is an integral part of the solution to the environmental crisis that will need bold investor moves, ambitious policies, and radical innovation if it is to be successful. It’s a daunting task, but as many Danish businesses are able to prove, not an impossible one. From furniture companies offering reuse models and take-back schemes to businesses creating high-end products from waste, Danish businesses are already operating and innovating in this sphere, providing examples to follow.

“We need to think differently, involve and engage all stakeholders, and let sustainability become part of our everyday thinking and DNA. But most importantly, we need to include the dimension of beauty and aesthetics to turn the transformation into something irresistible.”

Torben Klitgaard, CEO, BLOXHUB.

Creating a desire for change

Making the sustainable choice irresistible is another key theme in the white paper. Bridging the gap between knowing about climate change and wanting to do something about it on an individual, business or systemic level is all about shaping a desire for it. Citing examples of storytelling and the power of imagination as drivers for this desire, Julie Hjort, Director of Sustainable Transitions at the Danish Design Center clarifies that science needs a little creative magic to help people bridge that gap.

“Science has told us what to move away from,” she said. “Our imagination must tell us where to go next. We must dare to imagine a living, sustainable, and circular society where people and the planet thrive.”  

Shaping a new kind of systemic thinking

Beyond shaping individual desires and creating business imperatives, changing the system at a systemic level can accelerate far wider change. In the report, Connie Hedegaard, Former European Commissioner for Climate Action, explains how the European Commission is driving incentives across European societies to lead to a carbon-free future, recognising the global nature of the climate crisis: we are all connected, after all.

In Denmark, the new Bauhaus project Desire works across multiple disciplines, considering how they are all connected, to shape a better future. It’s a unique way to work on a systems level across multiple sectors, using collaboration and a set of principles to create better places to live. By throwing out profit as a guiding factor and instead looking at the values of belonging, circular mindsets, planetary perspective, agency and aesthetics, three pilot projects are ploughing a new path.                                        

Creativity as a driver for change                    

From the power of advertising to the problem-solving solutions business leaders need to find, and the systemic shifts that move us all in the same direction, creativity can power a faster and more desirable transition into a greener age. As the examples of Danish businesses in the white paper show, it is possible to adapt and change, innovate with the environment in mind, and succeed in a global and local market.

Creativity is the missing link when it comes to empowering individuals to take action, as well as shaping incentives that drive better business and societal change. It’s the secret sauce that makes us want to be a part of the green revolution, rather than stick to the status quo. And, as we rethink how to live and work in a world that does not have limitless resources, there is no future without it.