Digitalization and Fintech in Sub-Saharan Africa

By | Opinion Piece

This opinion peace aims to shed light on few of many business opportunities that can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa. If you are a digital savvy with dreams of using your digital skills in an impact startup, Sub-Saharan Africa is your destination.

Technology is transforming the global economy, faster than ever. More than half of the world population have access to technology compared to 30 percent in 2010. This transition has created opportunities. These opportunities are to be found in a great amount of developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where there is an increased demand for digital skills.

It is estimated that 230 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills resulting in 650 million training opportunities. A 130-billion-dollar opportunity exist in providing digital training in Sub-Saharan Africa until 2030. The largest opportunities are to be found within business-to-business and business-to-government.

Another opportunity to be found within digitalization in Sub-Saharan Africa is within digital financial services. Digital financial services (Fintech) create financial inclusion through reduced transaction costs. Digital financial services allow people to open savings accounts, take out loans, invest in stock markets etc.  Fintech could be the steppingstone towards a digital economy in Africa, which could create a structural transformation, if exploited well.

So how does this relate to the SDGs?  Digital skills are an essential part of human capital development and paramount to future success, moreover Investment in human capital in Sub-Saharan Africa can improve competitiveness. Digitalization can create infrastructure in rural areas (SDG 9) the majority of households in rural areas in sub Saharan Africa, are not to be found on navigation systems. There is a business-to-government and business-to-business opportunity in mapping rural areas that is not being utilized to its full potential.

About the author

Shantel is part of the Advocacy team within the Sustainability Influencers. She is born and raised in Zambia, East Africa. She is a bachelor student in Intercultural Marketing and Communication at Copenhagen Business School and aspires to propel sustainable development through transcontinental collaborations for technological disruption.

The European Green Deal and Energy Democracy

By | Opinion Piece

The European Green Deal and Energy Democracy

Ten years from now we will likely look back upon this decade and this new European project with a resounding sense of success or failure. In recent history there has never been a decade so vital in determining the fate of future European generations as the one we enter now. We face three major overlapping challenges. Firstly, we have an economic crisis which is represented by increases in poverty, inequality and homelessness. Secondly, an environmental and climate crisis which threatens food security, front line communities, current economic models and entrenched investment portfolios. Lastly, we have a crisis of democracy where liberal democratic values are threatened in Europe.

The new commission in Brussels headed up by Ursula von Der Leyen have clearly set out their plans…“At the heart of our work is the need to address the changes in climate, technology and demography that are transforming our societies and way of life.” In response to the climate crisis the commission has laid out a European Green Deal in which their “goal is to reconcile the economy with our planet, to reconcile the way we produce, the way we consume, with our planet and to make it work for our people. The European Green Deal is on the one hand about cutting emissions, but on the other hand about creating jobs and boosting innovation.” These policy measures will change the face of Europe; it’s trade, energy, food and financing. This progressive stance should of course be welcomed, we need leaders with strong and just policy who can tell and sell a story of hope.

However, if this Green Deal cannot respond to the three crucial issues faced in Europe what state of affairs will we be looking at in 2030. Are we looking down the barrel of the most radical, fair and transformative set of polices that can produce a carbon neutral society by 2050 – perhaps a society enriched by citizen participation in democratic processes where the economy works within planetary boundaries and exists to serve the majority of the population? Or, are there two bullets loaded ready to reinforce spiralling levels of inequality where energy policy plays into the hands of dubiously revamped oil companies? Policy which does the latter will likely bolster support for anti-establishment movements disdainful of centralised Neo-liberal policy. You need look no further than the yellow vest movement in France for evidence of this.

One of the main pillars of the new European Green deal is energy policy. Transitioning the energy system towards net zero emissions is a multifaceted problem. The solution is not so clear but it will likely involve improved efficiencies, electrification of systems, deployment of renewable energy and circular economic models. Classically the provision of energy within the EU has been from state and corporate actors through a centralised production system. The history of our energy system means that large multinational fossil fuel companies and investors are integral in the designing of new energy policy. These conflicts of interest around their asset and investment portfolios are a significant issue, the ability of these entities to promote information favourable to itself is vast when compared to smaller and new actors in the industry. Evidence has shown that despite clear calls for transitioning to carbon neutrally in the EU the European Parliament “regrets the fact that fossil fuel subsidies are still increasing and amount to around €55 billion per year”.

Hope is not however lost because last March an EU Climate Change resolution called on “All levels of government, whether national, regional or local, to put in place measures to encourage the participation of citizens in the energy transition and to stimulate the exchange of best practices; stresses that the involvement of citizens in the energy system through decentralised self-generation of renewable energy,…” Furthermore, EU law now allows communities and individuals to generate, consume and sell their own energy. By 2050 approximately 45% of renewable energy production could be owned by citizens, 37% of which could come through participation in an initiative of a citizen energy community.

The citizen inclusion in the production of renewable energy through individual and community ownership is a unique opportunity for addressing systemic inequality. An energy transition based on citizen inclusion and ownership can empower citizens to fight climate change whilst strengthening local economies and our European democratic model.

Whether the European Green Deal will play into the hands of the invested interests of today is yet to be seen. What however is clear is that there is a legal mandate for citizen owned renewable energy production. The benefits will become clear when citizens are placed at the heart of European Green Deal. The biggest loss will be if we get to 2050 and the owner and operator of a solar panel on your roof is a corporation listed on the stock exchange.

In collaboration with the United Nations Youth Association Energy Working Group we at Sustainability Influencers advocate for measures to encourage the participation of citizens in the energy transition. We work towards educating and empowering the youth – the citizens of today and the future – to building a fairer and more sustainable world.

Author: James Nickles

Advocacy Team

James is part of the Advocacy team within the Sustainability Influencers. He is a Graduate student in Climate Change at the University of Copenhagen.

Happy New Year!

By | Opinion Piece

Dear reader,

Happy New Year! The New Year provides an occasion to both reflect on the year gone by and look ahead for the year we have entered. I will take that opportunity as well and make a short status for the Sustainability Influencers. Let’s begin.

The first batch of Sustainability Influencers and their 2019

In 2019, the first batch from the Sustainability Influencers ended the programme. During their one-year involvement in the programme, the influencers amongst other guested the CBS Wire podcast sharing their view on the progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), took part in a business panel on youth engagement and sustainability at a Slotskredsmøde at Frederiksberg, and published our report on Students and Sustainability.

For the report on Students and Sustainability, we asked 696 university students across nine universi­ties in Denmark about their knowledge con­cerning the SDGs, their attitude towards sus­tainability in their study program, and their opinion about sustainability in future jobs. The report highlights that Sustainability is on the top agenda among Danish university stu­dents. Students demand more action and with the report, we emphasise the need for uni­versities, organisations, public administration and businesses to actively incorporate and take a stand towards a sustainable future. If you want to read the report, please click here.

2019 was also the year where we participated in the Global Goals World Cup, which is “an alternative football tournament that creates community, inspires and engages women from all over the world”. The tournament took place in front of Danish Architecture Centre and our team of influencers had blast together with the other participants.

Through the year, we hosted and spoke at events, were nominated for an award and meet a lot of eager, inspiring and great people. Thank you to all of you who have followed the journey, invited us, nominated us, or participated in our events through this first batch.

A new batch of Sustainability Influencers

In September 2019, the new batch of Sustainability Influencers were recruited. 17 university students from Copenhagen Business School, University of Copenhagen and University of Southern Denmark.

During the fall, we hosted our first workshop on the UN SDGs at Sankt Annæ Gymnasium, participated in the climate strike and spent time on developing new initiatives for 2020. 2020 marks the year of 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the UN, “the goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, peace and justice, and are all interconnected. To leave no one behind, they must be achieved by 2030.” We could not agree more!!

For the Sustainability Influencers, 2020 will be the year where we launch our SDG Times. The SDG Times will be a biweekly article posting focusing on the youth perspective and a current challenge. With the series of articles, we aim to both inform students and readers about different initiatives and how they can help reach the SDGs as well as inspire you to take action to the extent possible for you. If you do not want to miss it, subscribe to our online channels and sit tight until we publish the first one on 28 January 2020. The first article will be written by James, who is a Graduate student in Climate Change at University of Copenhagen.

In 2020, we will also be hosting and participating in workshop and events and hopefully help raise awareness amongst youth as well as bring forward the youth perspective on the SDGs.

The best wishes for 2020 and a new decade!

We hope to see you around!

Author: Malene Mølgaard Christensen

Advocacy Team

Malene is part of the Advocacy team within the Sustainability Influencers. She is a Graduate student in Applied Economics and Finance at Copenhagen Business School but is currently based in New York where she is studying a semester at Columbia University.

Sustainability Influencers publish our new report on Students and Sustainability!

By | Communcation & Outreach, News & Announcements

We are pleased to announce that Sustainability Influencers Luna and Laurits from the Baseline team have finished our new report! This report is about students’ knowledge about and attitude towards sustainability both at their university and in job situations. If you are interested, click on the image above!

You can also see our appendix here if you would like to see more!

If not now, when?

By | Communcation & Outreach

Youth perspective on the youth agenda

Link to blogpost

In a Blogpost at “the business of Society” sustainability influencers share their perspective on the sustainability agenda, explain why a youth movement for sustainable development is crucial and why we need more “Gretas”.

If not now, when?

As the days get shorter and the year slowly draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on 2018. This last year, has seen endless headlines of shocking and fatal natural disasters around the world; From Tsunamis, hurricanes, rapidly spreading forest fires to severe drought and horrifying floods are only a few of the hardly bearable events that confronted us this year.

The last year has clearly shown us that numerous climate disasters with countless deaths, devastated countries and millions of climate refugees, demand strong action for the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals with its 169 targets – and if not now, when? And if not the young, then who?

Charlotte Piller – Copenhagen Business School

If not us, then who?

We are representatives from Sustainability Influencers, an initiative which wants to inspire students to challenge the status quo. A movement initiated by Student and Innovation House and CBS PRME, our group consists of students from universities around Denmark. We aim to engage students across educational backgrounds to increase commitment towards the SDG’s. We are convinced that in order to achieve the UN SDGs, we need to mobilise, engage and empower fellow students to create change.

We, the young generation, want to lead the way to a more sustainable future. Fortunately, UN SDGs provide us with a framework and a common language to push for sustainable development, foster needed innovation, social inclusion and green economic growth.

Why should it be us?

Growing up in an age of climate change, we question how the issue is currently dealt with and believe that one of our main tasks is to drive the green transition of our society; since this can never happen by the actions of just a few, a youth movement for sustainable development is crucial. Besides the fact that we are impatient and enthusiastic, the answer to how we can help transform our world, may be found in understanding the way we perceive, interpret and ultimately act today. There is a basic change going on with the young people of the world, which re-defines fundamental concepts of freedom, power and identity to community.

In contrast to the previous generation’s understanding of freedom as autonomy and exclusivity, we feel free when being part of a community with access to others in our network. Freedom therefore means inclusivity to us. We also have a different perception of power. While others believed in top-down power, we are convinced of the power of the many – of our community. Moreover, we are seeing a change in the way younger generations perceive identity to community. As we begin to see climate change impacting our communities, and understanding that there’s nowhere to escape, we begin to realize that we’re part of a world community. Everything is not a zero-sum game, with just a few winners. And so, we are beginning to strongly empathize with our fellow humans around the planet.

These changes that we are seeing give us hope that we can help support the needed transformation of our societies and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals not only for Denmark, but for everyone.

Luna Stæhr – University of Copenhagen
Mikkel Beyer Mogensen – Aalborg University

Seize the opportunity and be like Greta!

Every change starts with a vision and people who fearlessly fight for it by inspiring, mobilizing and engaging others to drive this change – in each of their communities. In these communities the share of influence by us, the millennials, who by definition are restless seeking of the meaning in life is becoming bigger. We are looking for the opportunities to do fulfilling and useful work and at the same time has an impact on the world. An opportunity to change life for the better. Dear young generation, open your eyes and look around, you are surrounded by opportunities! Seize them professionally or personally, but in any case, as world citizens, drive inspiration.

We ne need more people like 15-year-old Greta Thunbergs, a strong-headed and exemplary girl, who skips school every Friday in order to draw attention to climate change in the streets of Stockholm, and fewer American billionaires researching new planets to populate instead of fighting for our planet – our home. Do not just recklessly give it up, but rather be like Greta: foster change and make for different headlines in the future.

Have you seen us in the media?

By | Communcation & Outreach

Here is a quick overview of our presence in the Danish media for November:

On 19 November, we were featured in the article ‘Iværksættere og unge i gang med Verdensmålene’ on The article concerned our programme, the Danish entrepreneurial week, the need for young entrepreneurs and youth with an agenda. Read the full article here.

The youth perspective

By | Communcation & Outreach

Speaking at the UN's 73rd birthday

On October 24, when Copenhagen Business School hosted the celebration of the UN’s 73rd birthday, the Sustainability Influencers, represented by Luna and Mikkel, gave an inspiring speech on the importance of bringing in youth when trying to solve the global challenges. Here are some of the key points from the speech.

Action for sustainability is strongly needed, and if not now – then when? And if not us, the young generation – then whom?

We aspire to help create a change – a change where we approach the challenges of today and tomorrow differently than we previously could have imagined. A change where students are mobilized and engaged to drive the change themselves, in each our their communities.

BUT, the fact is that our societies and our global economy are confronted with one of the greatest challenges that humanity has ever faced– how sustainable development can be obtained and achieved – and how sustainable development successfully can be implemented in all layers and in all corners of our society.

This challenge we face today is unprecedented – the steps ahead of us to transform our societies into economic, environmental and socially viable have to be taken now, which means that we will have to navigate and create a new path together as we move forward.

Because the ways we have been behaving and gone about our business – both in the literal and metaphorical sense – everything ranging from running businesses to organize our economy – has not been sustainable. This calls for rethinking how we want to structure our economy, run our businesses, public institutions and our society in general.

This is why we believe it is so critical that we dare to challenge the existing and unsustainable paradigm, which has prevailed for far too long, and that we dare to aspire to transform business-as-usual.

Climate change

Around the world, we are already witnessing climate change. This summer was the warmest summer that Europe has experienced in more than 100 years. We have seen how climate change affected farmers’ yield and we continuously witness cities so polluted that is causes health issues and impeding economic growth. Climate change and the over-extracting of our planet’s resources is a reality.

The 1st of August was marked as Earth Overshoot Day, that is the day when all of humanity has used more from nature than our planet can renew in an entire year. This year, 2018, it was the earliest overshoot day ever.

Challenging status quo

So how do we go from here? How do we take action and create a new path towards a more sustainable future? Action can be driven by all of us – political leaders, businesses, universities and us, the younger generation, the students. But if societies are to evolve, develop and foster sustainable growth, a youth movement is crucial. Preferring status quo over change is self-destructive and omitting the voice of the younger generations will result in a reduction of new and transformative ideas. A youth movement must take action and must be given a chance to act unconstrained by the old and narrow paradigm. We have to foster thoughts that will allow us to approach the world from entirely new angles.

The need for a youth movement

A youth movement to drive change is crucial. The positions currently held by the older generations will sooner or later be passed on to us, as a natural process. But the question will then be, how we will build on the existing structure and how will we challenge our linear economy and transform it into a green, circular and sustainable one.

As we begin to see climate change impacting our entire community, and there’s nowhere to escape, we begin to realize we’re part of that larger community and that everything is not a zero-sum game, with only a few winners. And so we’re getting our younger generations beginning to empathize with our fellow human beings and our fellow creatures in one biosphere. This is a hopeful narrative of the human race. This is the reason why we as the youth must stress the very importance of bringing communities to the front, and of ensuring partnerships across networks, sectors, and industries.


Partnerships should not only be built between sectors and industry as a critical mean to achieve the SDGs, it should be built between generations. When building such partnerships, we allow novel thoughts and learnings from the former generation to pass on to us, which we will refine, rebuild and rethink and this will be a crucial step to sustainable development.

We challenge you

We challenge you as students, professors, politicians, and businesses to take responsibility and engage with each other. We all have to really come together. We’ve got one generation —ours— to lay down the plans and execute them. It ours and your responsibility to carry this weight, a weight that no generations had in history. We don’t know of any period in history where one generation was called upon to save the human species. But we don’t have to shy away from the seemingly daunting task. Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done, but we believe that we can learn from each other, and begin to mobilize, engage and empower not only students but everyone to collaborate to find solutions to those shared challenges that we face today.

If you want to know more about the day, you can read all about it here.