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Finland leads world in sustainable development: UN report

Finland has landed atop a global comparison of progress made by countries toward the sustainable development goals, having achieved or being on track to achieve five of the 17 goals.

Vastavalo / Hannu Laatunen

Finland has clinched the top spot in an international assessment of progress made by countries toward the sustainable development goals.

The country achieved the goals of no poverty, inclusive and equitable education, clean water and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy. Finland is also on track to achieve the goal of decent work and economic growth, according to the Sustainable Development Report.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin viewed that the ranking is the result of long-term work and contributions from all members of Finnish society. “Credit for this recognition is due to all Finns, who work persistently to build a more sustainable society,” she stated in a press release sent out on Monday.

“We are proud of our ranking, but we still have a lot to do in order to achieve all of the sustainable development goals by 2030,” she added. “The most crucial thing now is figuring out how we can safeguard our wellbeing within the limits of our planet’s carrying capacity in the future.”

Marin is also the chairperson of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development.

This is the first time that Finland has been ranked number one in an international comparison of sustainable development.

Produced by the UN and Bertelsmann Foundation, the report says Finland is making moderate progress toward eight of the 17 goals, indicating that more action is required to achieve them in accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its progress has stagnated entirely on the goals of conserving and sustainably using marine resources, protecting and sustainably using terrestrial ecosystems, ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, and taking urgent action to combat the climate emergency.

The goals of climate action and responsible consumption and production were the only two where major challenges were identified for Finland. Slightly lesser but nonetheless significant challenges remain to achieve zero hunger, sustainable use of marine resources, sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and implementing partnerships for the goals.

Minister for Development Co-operation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari argued that the onus on wealthy countries to support disadvantaged ones to meet the goals will be even heavier in the post-pandemic world, given the crisis’ impact on poverty and gender inequality worldwide.

“We need to make sure that everyone stays on board with the development and that we are able to close the gap between the most successful and worst-performing countries,” he stressed.

By: Aleksi Teivainen