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Good potential in Finland for implementing sustainable development

Government Communications Department 23.8.2016 11.21 | Published in English on 23.8.2016 at 11.40
Press release 332/2016

Finland performs well in international benchmarking on sustainable development, but in recent years our position has dropped in most rankings. We should concentrate especially on social inequalities and employment as well as matters related to climate and consumption of natural resources. Finland still has all the potential to remain among the top-ranking countries. This is highlighted in the final report of the 'Key questions and 2030 action plan for sustainable development (Avain2030 project)'.

Finland's efforts in sustainable development have been discussed around the world recently. In July, Finland was among the first in the UN to report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Especially Society's Commitement for Sustainable Development has attracted positive feedback. It is process where over 260 actors have already voluntarily promised to promote sustainability. The British newspaper The Guardian also listed Finland and Germany as prime examples of countries making good progress in sustainable development.

The UN's global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was launched at the beginning of 2016. The national Avain2030 project, launched early this year, paves the way for national implementation of the Agenda. The project examined Finland’s current position and identified its challenges and successes. A stakeholder process served to pinpoint weak signals as to which direction developments are taking.

Based on the study, the Avain2030 project proposes the following action for implementing national sustainable development:

1. Make administrative processes participative

The formulation, execution, monitoring and assessment of overall impact of national implementation of sustainable development measures could be made more effective in different administrative branches by employing participative methods.

2. Bring national data collection principles into discussion

The indicators for the 2030 Agenda specified by the UN give a broad picture of sustainable development but the indicators need to be further honed. One challenge, in particular, is how to reconcile the demands of international monitoring with that at the national level. The set of indicators proposed by the UN fails to describe nationally pertinent questions concisely and in a policy-relevant way. By identifying local, sector-specific and national monitoring demands it would be possible to provide feedback for further developing the international indicators.

3. Comparative international data and stakeholder work to broaden the information base

In the context of sustainable development monitoring and communcation, it would be worth boldly harnessing the use of existing data production. For example, country comparisons carried out by different actors would make it possible to roughly map out how well sustainable development goals are being implemented while also engaging different actors in discussion on the best ways to measure developments.

4. Action plan to pave the way for sustainable development

The main observation made by the Avain2030 project is that Finland's position in implementing sustainable development is high to start with, but progress in recent years has not been transparently positive in the implementation of any of the main goals in sustainable development. An action plan would therefore be needed, which would create a basis for monitoring and would help identify key measures. Such a national action plan would need to be ambitious and bold.

The project also revealed many uncertainties and questions of interpretation relating to sustainable development targets and indicators. One of the tasks of the action plan would be to create a process that would enable the updating of the information base, especiallly relative to new, multifunctional solutions that support sustainable development.

The key questions on sustainable development and the 2030 project form part of the implementation of the Government's 2016 plan for analysis, assessment and research.

Final report of the project. 2030 Agenda in Finland: 'Key questions and 2030 action plan for sustainable development

Further information about the Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities at tietokayttoon.fi/en

A discussion open to the public on the project outcomes will be held on 6 September 2016 from 13.00 to 14.30 in Smolna, Etelä Esplanadi 6, Helsinki. Please register here

Inquiries: Professor Eeva Furman, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 295 251 123, eeva.furman(at)ymparisto.fi; Jari Lyytimäki, Senior Researcher, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 295 251 397, jari.lyytimaki(at)ymparisto.fi and Satu Lähteenoja, Researcher, Demos Helsinki, tel. + 358 44 500 2993, satu.lahteenoja(at)demoshelsinki.fi