The third edition of VisitOslo’s VIPeace familiarisation trip brought journalists closer than ever to one of Norway’s most significant international events.
Oslo is currently Europe’s fastest growing city, and while its 670,000 population remains modest compared with the likes of London or Paris, Norway’s capital has a cultural resonance around the globe.
As host to the annual Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, Oslo is a particularly recognisable brand in December and VisitOslo used the event to showcase the development making it a more compelling proposition than ever for organisers of business events.
Take for example the venue that trades most closely on the peace prize. The Nobel Peace Center present a standing reception main hall for up to 450 people, or as an auditorium for up to 250 and in conference for up to 130 – roughly the same number as can meet at once in the entrance hall.
But more importantly it presents a space that includes an exhibition of the current peace prize laureate’s campaign, a personal and memorable look at the significance of the award for up to 100 people at a time.
That this year’s winner of the peace prize award was ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a group specifically formed to undo worldwide fear generated by nuclear weapon-enabled state terror, is even more significant in Norway of all places.
Norway was ranked as the happiest country on Earth by the United Nations 2017 World Happiness Report, its citizens pride themselves on a pace and style of life that generates happiness ahead of productivity.
But that is not to say that the city is sedentary when it comes to economic development.
According to Oslo’s 2017 State of the City report the city experienced a 160% increase in start-up investment over the past 12 months. This is born of necessity due in part to the decline of Norway’s oil industry. Now eco-friendly technology is likely to count considerably to the future of its economy, continuing a nationwide longstanding commitment to sustainability.
In 2016 investment worth US$100m was put into Norwegian tech companies -according to the 2017 State of the City report. Fifteen per cent of this investment was focused on sustainability, the highest among all the Nordic countries.
This city growth is evident not only in Oslo’s Fjord City Project, which is giving the fjord back to inhabitants, but in the city’s move to the east, and event organisers are able to take advantage of venues and meetings infrastructure including the city’s modern opera house, home to backstage tours, fine dining and relaxed events space, as well as soon-to-open places such as a museum dedicated to the work of The Scream artist Edvard Munch, National Gallery and new main library.
While currents in the fjord have long been a good reason to bring events to the city, the underlying tides of economic growth now make Oslo a more compelling proposition for organisers than ever before.