Denmark Sustainability Issues

The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Denmark:

1. Waste management 

Waste generation increased by 30% from 2010 to 2016 mainly due to an increase in construction and demolition waste. Denmark generates the highest level of municipal waste per capita (762kg per capita in 2017). 


2. Pollution

There were 3200 premature deaths a year, attributable to air pollution. Exposure to chemicals impacts human health, specifically resulting in male reproductive disorders. 40% of the male population has a reduced semen quality.


3. Labour market

The Hays Global Skills Index is a score from 1-10, based on seven equally weighted indicators such as education flexibility, labour market flexibility and wage pressure. A score over five in the index indicates a labour market under pressure. According to the Hays Global Skills Index, Denmark’s score has increased from 5.8 in 2016 to 6.4 in 2017. Denmark’s score increased by more than any other country in 2017, indicating that employers may have a harder time attracting and retaining talented workers. A significant cause for this is the increasing amount of vacant positions that cannot be filled. First, the government must address possible bottlenecks in the labor market, and address the challenges presented by technological change (e.g., automatization) and globalization. This has revitalized the debate on whether the education system is sufficiently equipped to supply the type and quality of education needed by the private sector. The labor market possibilities for low-skilled workers is also a challenge.


4. Anti-immigrant sentiment

With a population of 5.8 million, Denmark stands out among its neighbours for its reluctance to integrate, even with comparatively small numbers of foreigners.  It granted protection to 2,365 people in 2017, compared with Sweden’s nearly 28,000. Today immigrants and their descendants of non-Western origin make up 8.5% of the population, projected to rise to 13.1% by 2060. By 2018, former Danish immigration and integration minister Inger Støberg and  her government — a coalition of right-wing parties — had passed 100 laws, making Denmark’s immigration policies among the toughest in Europe. The Government designated 29 areas as “ghettos”, with high migrant populations, high crime rates and unemployment. The negative connotation of ‘ghetto’ persists. In 2018, a burqa ban came into effect. Last year, a new regulation was passed making it compulsory for children from the so-called ghettos to attend 25 hours of “Danish values” day care each week, starting from age one.


5. Ageing population 

As of 2017, Denmark has a total population of 5.7 million people of which 19% are 65 years or older. In 2040 the total population is expected to be 6.3 million people, of which almost 25% will be 65 years or older. As the ageing population entails, that more and more people will receive retirement pension and there will be a larger group of people that might need care or other public services concurrently with their age. 

The Danish welfare system is almost exclusively tax-financed and the increasing elder population and steady population at working age challenge the funding of the Danish welfare system because the workforce must provide for an increasingly larger group of the elderly.