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Evaluation: Finland should boost action to achieve the 2030 Agenda goals

Government analysis, assessment and research activitiesPrime Minister's Office
Publication date 27.2.2023 9.46
Press release 92/2023
Photo: Suvi-Tuuli Kankaanpää

Finland is among the leading countries in promoting sustainable development. However, in light of the current situation it may be difficult for Finland to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda. The main challenges Finland is facing are related to ecological sustainability, global responsibility and negative transboundary impacts. It is important to continue the determined and long-term efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda. These are the conclusions of the evaluation report published on 27 February.

Extensive commitment to promoting sustainable development Finland’s strength

The evaluation of the national implementation of the 2030 Agenda was limited to central government’s actions and the guidance framework. At the strategic level, the central government was quite active in implementing the 2030 Agenda in 2019–2022. The Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government is in line with the 2030 Agenda. In the reference countries (Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany) the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is also linked to the government programme but, in addition to this, regional and local actors have been more specifically taken into account.

A key strength of the Finnish guidance framework is the extensive commitment to promoting sustainable development. However, the guidance framework falls short of supporting cross-administrative guidance and of simultaneously taking ecological, social and economic sustainability into account. Finland should ensure even better the impacts of different kinds of strategies and guidance documents on the conditions for achieving the critical sustainable development goals. The 2030 Agenda plays only a small role in financial guidance and performance guidance procedures. Besides e.g. the Climate Act, there were very few legislative projects that were directly linked to the goals of the 2030 Agenda during the time when the evaluation was carried out.

Ecological, social and economic sustainability should be mainstreamed

The implementation of the 2030 Agenda should take the next step from strategies towards more concrete measures. It is important to integrate ecological, economic and social sustainability even more systematically to the guidance framework and budgetary and legislative processes. Processes such as those applied in the budgetary guidance of cross-administration themes and practices for phenomenon-based budgeting should be developed further. Incentives or sanctions related to the sustainable development goals should be used more than at present in performance guidance.

At the moment information gathered from research and monitoring is not used enough to support decision-making. The monitoring of sustainable development should be strengthened. Besides the SDG indicators, a set of indicators should be introduced to monitor the six areas of change in the strategy of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development. The evaluation also recommends that the role of scientific panels in producing and utilising sustainability data should be strengthened.

National Commission on Sustainable Development as platform for change

The implementation of the 2030 Agenda has been linked to the national implementation of sustainable development, where the distribution of tasks between the different actors should be clarified. The role of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development, where societal discussion on the priorities and common direction of sustainable development in Finland takes place, should be further strengthened. The evaluation recommends that the chairpersons of the Commission should represent a broader spectrum of actors, including the business sector and NGOs. The strategy of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development should serve as the national narrative to clarify strategic guidance.

The evaluation was carried out as part of the implementation of the Government’s 2022 plan for analysis, assessment and research.

Inquiries: Katri Haila, Senior Consultant, Forefront Oy, tel. +358 50 564 9741, [email protected], Vesa Salminen, Managing Director, Forefront Oy, tel. +358 40 125 2370, [email protected], Eija Vinnari, Professor, University of Tampere, tel. +358 50 318 7602, [email protected], Petri Uusikylä, Partner, Frisky & Anjoy Oy, tel. +358 50 521 7500, [email protected]

The Government’s joint analysis, assessment and research activities (VN TEAS) produce data used to support decision-making, everyday operations and knowledge-based management. They are guided by the Government’s annual plan for analysis, assessment and research. The content of the reports published in the publication series of the Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities is the responsibility of the producers of the data in question and does not necessarily represent the view of the Government. For more information, visit