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Helsinki attracts visitors by promising them a vibrant urban culture combined with pure nature. To support its positioning strategy as one of the most sustainable cities in the world, Helsinki has been addressing barriers to a sustainable lifestyle and making sure that the proposed benefits stand apart from those of competing cities. Across the globe, cities and communities are implementing sustainability initiatives and projects targeting greener infrastructure, economic development, zero-carbon mobility, and cultural recreation. But what makes some of these projects more likely to deliver impactful results in the long term? How can some of these initiatives help make communities more sustainable and resilient in the years to come?

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In the 2000’s it was the internet, in the 2010’s it was social tech companies, the next big market disruptor of our generation is Agri-Tech. With the world population expected to reach 8.5 billion people by the mid-2030’s, and the continued degradation of the environment due to pollution, the need for more and better food is increasing.

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According to the World Economic Forum, at least $700 Billion should be invested yearly in order to monitor and maintain stable carbon levels. ‘Green financing’ is an innovative solution to this monetary issue that promotes the investment of private funds. Holistically, green financing is an idea that allows investors to profit off eco-friendly projects.

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Recently, Standard & Poor downgraded Netherlands' sovereign debt from a coveted AAA rating to a AA+ rating. The downgrade came as S&P sees a weak growth outlook, even though the Netherlands is seen as part of Europe’s healthy economic core. Also, S&P raised its outlook on Spain from negative to stable, showing that some of the struggling southern European countries may be recovering. As many southern countries continue to improve economically, some of the northern countries are suffering from poor growth prospects.

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Germany’s decision to slowly close its many nuclear power plants over the next decade was met with much support. Consequently, new plans for renewable energy sources started to accumulate, with the grandest, most expensive plan proceeding in the North Sea.  Germany’s ambitious plan is entitled Energiewende, or energy transition. This state-backed plan seeks to build fourteen gigawatts of wind turbines off the coast of the North Sea by the year 2023. These turbines alone will provide for roughly one tenth of the country’s energy needs.  The elaborate plan has met many issues, both financial and political, though. Will the turbines come to fruition in spite of its obstacles, or will this become just a giant waste of taxpayer money?

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Family or career? This has been a tough choice for many. The Dutch might have the answer. Daddy days and job-sharing as well as part-time employment have become quite typical in the Netherlands. Because of these irregular work hours, many companies do not even have assigned cubicles for their employees. Some examples are Microsoft and the Economics Ministry. Both have moved to what is known as "flex-buildings" which are smaller offices with less work stations than employees.

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The international flower market seems to be growing faster than the plants themselves. Over $100 billion worth of flowers are traded internationally each year. It is easy to assume that most flowers are grown locally, but you would be surprised to know that most likely that the bouquet sitting on your table is not from your own country. In the United States, imports account for 68% of fresh cut flowers. These flowers mainly come from Colombia, Ecuador, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Canada.

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As we kick off our International Flower Market blog series at globalEDGE this week, I thought I should do a brief article talking about the history of flowers, specifically from an economic perspective. This is pretty intriguing because as a commodity flowers have no intrinsic, economic value. They just have value as decoration and whatever other cultural values are placed on them. That being said, the flower market is currently a $32.5 billion industry. Looks like flowers are much more than just a hobby for retirees.

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Each country has different ways of doing business. Sometimes it may be confusing for foreigners visiting the country for the first time. What follows is tips on doing business successfully in some of the most advanced countries in Europe:

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Last week in Amsterdam, the first of 1,200 households installed energy-saving systems aimed at cutting their electricity costs. Additionally, Dutch banks ING and Rabobank provided access to financing for the purchase of energy-saving light bulbs and efficient roof insulation. Actions like these are the beginning of a concerted effort to make Amsterdam’s infrastructure smarter, greener, and more eco-friendly.

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Animal friendly products or the new thing on the market? Salads that are on a blue table or salads on a red table? Loaf of bread or sliced up bread? Cheese slices wrapped in plastic or not?

Dutch lab researchers try to figure out what people eat and how to influence their habits. They study the influences on eating in order to be able to find ways to make products more appealing and to direct consumers to healthier choices.

The $4.5 million Restaurant of the Future is run by scientists of Wageningen University and Research Center, working with Sodexo, an international catering firm, and the Noldus software company, to answer questions from the food industry and behaviorists.