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Finland’s sustainable development garners global recognition

Lahti was the European Green Capital 2021.

Julia Kiveä

Finland has taken the top spot in the Sustainable Development Report 2022, and the cities of Lahti and Helsinki have ranked highly in the Sustainable Cities Index.

The Sustainable Development Report assessed the progress of 163 countries in implementing the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The report deduced that Finland has achieved its goals in poverty reduction, clean and affordable energy, and high-quality education. Elsewhere, the Nordic nation is close to achieving the goals related to reducing inequality, advancing gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and peace and the rule of law.

“Finland’s strength [in sustainable development] lies in our long-term investments to ensure people’s wellbeing and equality,” said the secretary-general of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development, Sami Pirkkala. “A key challenge for Finland is how to maintain this high level of wellbeing within the limits of our planet.”

Finland still has room for improvement when it comes to ecological sustainability, such as fighting climate change, increasing sustainable consumption and production patterns, and halting biodiversity loss.

Finland is close to achieving its goals in, among others, advancing gender equality, decent work and economic growth. Image: Jussi Hellsten/Helsinki Marketing

Meanwhile, Lahti and Helsinki were ranked fourth and sixth respectively in the comparison of environmentally sustainable development between 50 cities worldwide. The inaugural index utilised public data in order to make the comparisons and was produced by Corporate Knights, a Canada-based company specialising in media, research and financial information products.

Lahti’s forward-thinking approach already saw it being crowned the European Green Capital 2021 and recognised for having the best air quality and most efficient road network of the countries surveyed. Its residents are among the lowest consumers of water per capita when measured against European cities.

The Finnish capital’s good air quality, open public space, sustainable mobility and resilience to climate change were lauded in the index. Helsinki also generates the smallest amount of solid waste of all comparison cities in Europe and the UK.

Overall, the three cities considered to be the most ecologically sustainable were Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen.

By: James O’Sullivan