Photo: Therese Ruud/ Statens Vegvesen
Fjord Tours Articles / 5 Aug 2020

Sustainability: Keeping our waters clean and clear

Picture perfect, nature’s unadulterated best, untouched paradise...all apt expressions which try to capture the beauty and tranquility that the stunning Norwegian Fjords have to offer. The Norwegian Fjords are not only the home to some of the world’s largest coral reefs and most fertile fishing grounds, but are a gateway to nature’s nirvana. In Norway, we are trying to keep it that way.

In the early 2000s, a study by the Norwegian Pollution Control Agency concluded that the inner Oslo fjord area was badly polluted as a result of decades of industrial negligence and put in motion a cleanup act which was formally christened "Oslo Fjord Clean Up" in 2005.

Bjorvika-7-4556876_VisitOSLO-Tord Baklund.jpg
Photo: VisitOSLO-Tord Baklund

Oslo - from Environmental Backwater to Green Capital

While the “polluter pays principle” underlies all environmental remediation in Norway, this could not be enforced in the Oslo Fjord since the polluters (manufacturing industries formerly situated along the coastline) no longer existed. However, various road and urban development projects in the port area presented viable financing opportunities. All in all about NOK 130 million was spent on cleaning up the port, in addition to remediation of marinas, bathing areas, and rivers.

The remediation project was deemed a huge success with renovation projects along the old harbor area and the water becoming clean enough to install new swimming areas at Sørenga, Tjuvholmen, and Fornebu. Oslo received the 2019 European Green Capital award, with the downtown core now car-free and a promise to make all public transit fossil-free by 2021.

Foap-nillemor-Oslo-3307955_nillemor_Visitnorway.com.jpg
Photo: Elisabeth. Ellijoy Frengen/Foap/Visitnorway.com

There have been huge challenges and setbacks along the way. Norway has suffered a number of spills related to offshore petroleum activity, including the platform explosion at the EKOFISK oil field in 1977, which resulted in 20,000 tonnes of oil spilling out into the sea. The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) is an agency of the Norwegian Ministry of Transport responsible for ensuring that similar disasters are not repeated. In such cases where a spill has occurred, the NCA is responsible for coordinating emergency response to acute pollution.

Vision of the fjords.jpg
Photo: Flåm AS / Sverre Hjornevik

Green Energy

Oil production in our oceans will of course have its environmentalist critics, but it has afforded Norway certain luxuries which otherwise might not have been possible. Norway is at the forefront of green energy, especially hydropower and wind farming, and boasts to one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world. Read more about how we keep our country green here

Sustainable travel to Norway

Interested in sustainable travel to Norway but don’t know the first thing about how to go about doing it? Here are some tips on how to sustainably travel while still getting to experience the best of Norway with sites like Trolltunga, Preikestolen, and the Kjerag Boulder: 

Naroyfjorden Hiking Crop© Sverre Hjørnevik Www.Fjordnorway.Com (Orginal 4795Px)

While the Norwegian tourism industry is committed to growing the industry and providing experiences that are North of the ordinary, it is equally dedicated to environmentalism safeguarding the environment and cultural heritage.

To advance this effort, Innovation Norway launched a certification scheme for Sustainable Tourist Destinations in 2013.

Geiranger De Syv Søstre Skageflå ©Øyvind Heen
Photo: Øyvind Heen

Sustainable Tourist Destinations

"Sustainable Destination" certification is awarded to destinations in Norway that are working systematically to reduce the negative impact of tourism. This certification scheme is a tool for monitoring how sustainable development in tourism contributes to job creation, promotion of local culture and products, and a better destination management model.

To be certified, a destination must show clear progress toward increasing economic, social, and environmental sustainability. It must preserve local nature and culture, strengthen social values, demonstrate political commitment, have effective management, and be economically viable.

Foap Cabday Rorvika 3204281 Foto Foap
Photo: FOAP

It takes about two years for a destination to earn initial certification. Once certified, a Sustainable Destination must continue to demonstrate improvement over time. The monitoring process includes documenting the promotion of local food and local culture, energy efficiency, waste production, and the use of cultural assets. Every three years, the performance of the destination is evaluated based on the criteria and indicators.

Røros, Lysefjord, Geilo and Tromsø are examples of destinations that have so far earned the accolade Sustainable Destination. Several more are in the pipeline and expected to be certified in the year to come, including Oslo, the Lofoten Islands, Voss, Bodø, the Geirangerfjord area and the Sognefjord area.