5.1   Competence and leadership

Performance
Perception

Summary

Oslo’s long-standing culture of citizen-government interaction can help to put the city on the front foot as it emerges from the pandemic. Before the pandemic hit, residents had high confidence in local authorities, and felt able to contribute to local decision making and provide feedback on local government projects. Perceptions of corruption remain very low by regional and global standards.

On the other hand, new data has exposed gaps in the perceived agility of city leaders to respond to and tackle civic problems. Emerging data suggest that before the outbreak of Covid-19, residents felt less able to access and understand information on local government decisions and priorities, and less satisfied with the time taken to solve local problems. It remains to be seen what impact the swift and decisive approach taken to the Covid-19 pandemic may have on these perceptions, and, in turn, as Oslo’s reputation as a place in which to build a career and to live over the long term.

Highlights

Perception

  • Low levels of corruption. Only 33% of residents in Oslo perceive corruption to be a problem - much lower than the European average of 51%. This puts Oslo 16th in Europe.125
  • Clear pathways for citizen involvement in decision making. Oslo is 6th for the proportion of residents who feel they are able to provide feedback on local government projects. Meanwhile, Oslo has the 2nd highest % of residents who agree that they can contribute to local decision making.126
  • Established culture of citizen-government interaction. Pre-Covid, Oslo ranked 31st in Europe for citizen confidence in local authorities.127
  • Lower transparency of government decisions. In pre-Covid perception measures of the ability of citizens to access and understand local government decisions, Oslo ranked 15th of 17 peers.128
  • Slower to solve civic problems. Before the pandemic, only 39% of residents were happy with the time taken to solve local civic problems, the 3rd lowest proportion among European peers.129

Influential all-round indexes

  • Leader for managing the health risks of Covid-19.  Oslo ranks 1st in the world for the effectiveness of health measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, including the introduction of online diagnostic tools and AI technologies.130
  • Efficient and decisive leadership. In a new study of leadership and government response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Oslo ranks 7th globally.131
  • Citizen-centred development. Oslo ranks 27th globally in a new study of the smartest city governments, based on its track record of ‘smart’ and human-centric development, the strength of government vision and leadership, and deployment of financial tools.132

Pre-Covid, Oslo excelled for governance participation, but was not as strong for speed and transparency

Figure 26: Oslo’s performance across perception measures of resident relationships with government

Sources: IMD Smart City Index 2020; EU Barometer Quality of Life in European Cities.

Implications for Oslo

There is clear potential for Oslo to:

  • Collate, generate and evaluate data collaboratively, for example via the deployment of civic technologies, apps and dashboards, and use it to create transparent solutions that can be applied at the scale of buildings and neighbourhoods.
  • Foster the platforms that enable residents and entrepreneurs to voice ideas and solutions in the context of Covid-19 recovery.
  • Pivot more decisively to a govtech model that embraces inclusive innovation - including those who are older, disabled and vulnerable.

5.2   Green and planet-conscious

Performance
Perception

Summary

Long known as a city leading the charge towards more sustainable mobility, Oslo retains its status as a world leader for the uptake of electric vehicles, and also is fast emerging as a capital of green finance and green business tourism.

Oslo’s all-round environmental friendliness remains very high by global standards, and now benefits from more appetite among residents to trial new ways of living and moving around the region. This could be of great benefit in a post-Covid world, as attention turns towards the environment and a good quality of living.

However, new data suggests that Oslo has not been as good over the long term at protecting its urban greenery relative to other regions, and that urban forests are not as ecologically healthy as elsewhere. There are also signs that others are moving faster than Oslo on green buildings and managing waste. This raises questions about how the region can become a true sustainable city, beyond its early trendsetting in two areas (e.g. electric mobility and green finance).

Highlights

Performance

  • Sustainably powered urban rail. Oslo is a leading region globally for efforts to reduce the amount of electricity used in its rail networks. 56% of all public transport journeys are powered by renewable energy.133
  • High uptake of electric vehicles. Oslo ranks 7th globally, and 1st in Europe, in a study of the world’s foremost electric vehicle capitals.134
  • Sustainable business tourism. Pre-Covid, Oslo was in the global top 20 for adoption of sustainable practice and policy among business tourism providers. In Oslo, 100% of business tourism venues, and nearly 95% of hotels, are sustainability certified. There is also a clear culture of reporting, oversight and long-term strategic planning among the region’s destination management organisations.135
  • Growing openness to electric scooters. Oslo ranks joint 8th for the maturity of legislation for e-scooters among 20 European capitals.136
  • Good access to quality green space. In a new survey that applies computer vision, deep learning and satellite imaging techniques to analyse the amount of urban green space and how easy it is to access, Oslo ranks 21st globally - or 7th among 32 peers.137
  • Slower progress in protecting carbon sinks. From 1992 to 2018, Oslo lost 6.2% of its metropolitan level tree coverage. This puts Oslo in the bottom 10% of all measured cities globally.138
  • Lower uptake of recycling. Oslo ranks 5th among 10 peers for the percentage of waste recycled within the city.139
  • Less established culture of sustainable buildings. Oslo is 79th globally for the presence, maturity and uptake of green construction systems and techniques.140
  • Less visible concentration of green jobs. Oslo did not feature in a recent list of the top 10 cities for green jobs, unlike many of its peers (Stockholm, Helsinki, Zurich).141

Perception

  • Efficient waste management systems. 80% of residents are satisfied with recycling services, putting Oslo 4th among its peers.142
  • Emerging as a green finance capital. Oslo ranks 10th globally for the depth and quality of its green finance tools.143

Influential all-round indexes

  • High all-round environmental friendliness. Oslo remains in the top 10 city regions globally for its all-round sustainability.144
  • An ecologically healthy city. The city of Oslo ranks 4th in a new study of the world’s most eco-friendly cities.145
  • Promising progress towards decarbonising transport. Oslo ranks 9th for overall sustainable mobility.146

Oslo continues to excel for green mobility and finance, but protecting carbon sinks will require vigilance

Figure 27: Oslo’s performance compared to peers across the main sustainability metrics

Sources (from top to bottom): ICCT, local sources, IMD Smart City Index 2020, Global Green Finance Index 6, OECD Cities and Regions at a Glance 2020.

Implications for Oslo

Especially after Covid-19 it will be important for Oslo to:

  • Reiterate and re-establish Oslo’s message around sustainability and wellbeing, and the relationship between the two, in coordination with companies and institutions.
  • Continue to expand the supply and effective regulation of micro-mobility, in order to facilitate eco-friendly and safe travel as the pandemic subsides and demonstrate Oslo’s embrace of sustainable innovation.
  • Incentivise more businesses and investors to decarbonise operations, via the development of bolder procurement and buildings standards, high profile industry competitions, and open data platforms for sustainability reporting.
  • Actively communicate how Oslo’s higher carbon industries are trialling innovations and technologies.