Food and land use context in the Nordics

The food and land use systems of the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) are complex and diverse. Denmark has the largest agricultural system – covering over 60 percent of its land area and accounting for nearly one-quarter of its export value. In contrast, only three percent of Norway’s land is fit for agricultural use, whereas the country is the world’s second-largest exporter of seafood. Iceland is limited in its agricultural production by geographic conditions, yet uses abundant and renewable geothermal energy to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in greenhouses. Finland is one of the most heavily forested countries of the European Union, with its forestry sector accounting for over 20 percent of the country’s export revenue. Land use in Sweden ranges from the heavily forested north to intensive interspersed agriculture and a robust dairy sector.

Across the Nordic region, unhealthy diets contribute to obesity and diet-related chronic diseases that come at a high cost to the individual and public sector. Typical Nordic diets also contribute to high overall environmental impact. Recent research shows that the production of the typical Nordic diet produces 2.5 to 3 times the greenhouse gas emissions, and uses approximately twice the amount of cropland, as would be considered sustainable if global food system targets were scaled down to an equal per capita scale. Notwithstanding the abundance of water in the region, it also faces important water management issues, including pollution of the Baltic Sea, owing in part to run-off from agricultural inputs. Finally, the Nordic region has high levels of food waste – approximately 120 kilograms per person a year.

Food and land use context in the Nordics

FOLU countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

The Nordics have a long tradition of collaboration with coordinated work across stakeholders focusing on food system challenges. These ongoing efforts are supported by a growing FOLU network, led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre of Stockholm University and the EAT Foundation. This includes coordinating the Nordic Modeling Network (a group of over 15 modelers representing Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark) and progressing stakeholder dialogues with actors across the food systems.

Learn more about the Nordics: Read our global report or the Nordics country pages.


Key contacts

Amanda Wood

Ambassadors in the Nordics

Gunhild Stordalen

Founder and executive chair of EAT Foundation

Latest news from the Nordics

07 Oct 21
A shared vision for the food and agricultural sector in Finland By Heikki Lehtonen, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) The ways we produce and consume food and use our land...
29 Oct 20

An open letter to the G20 from the EAT Advisory Board and Board of Trustees…

Load more Less

The Nordics social media: