Illustration of rankings
Here are five of the many reasons why Finland is making a name for itself on a global scale. Image: Julia Bushueva

FIVE FROM FINLAND: Top index rankings for 2021

Sustainable development, wellbeing of women, happiness, healthcare and startups – Finland has been recognised in a wide range of global indices over the past 12 months.

Zhanna Koiviola

22.11.2021

2021, yet another year largely shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, is wrapping up fast. As more and more countries are embarking on a transition toward normalcy, let’s discover how Finland has made it through the year according to international indices.

Here are five areas where Finland continues to rank high up globally.

Sustainable development

Boy cheering with a poster displaying UN sustainable development goals

Finland has found itself among the top three countries in the UN’s sustainable development rankings multiple times, but 2021 was the first time it found itself at the very top. Image: Valtioneuvosto

For the first time, Finland clinched the top spot in an international index that tracks and compares the progress made by 165 countries toward achieving the sustainable development goals. The annual report was compiled by the UN in co-operation with the Bertelsmann Foundation.

According to the ranking, Finland achieved the goals of no poverty, inclusive and equitable education, clean water and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy. The country is also on track to meet the goal of decent work and economic growth. At the same time, Finland’s greatest challenges are related to the fight against climate change and the need for more responsible consumption and production.

“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,” commented Prime Minister Sanna Marin. “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.”

Wellbeing of women

Women posing for a photo

Finland is the world’s second best country for women, according to the WPS Index, which incorporates three basic dimensions of women’s wellbeing: inclusion, justice and security. Image: Mentatdgt / Pexels

Finland was named the world’s second best country for women by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS), the publisher of the annual Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index. The study draws on recognised data sources to measure women’s inclusion, access to justice and security in 170 countries around the world.

Compared to other developed countries, Finland stood out favourably in several of the analysed metrics, including the share of women in the parliament (46%), the share of women who use a mobile phone (100%) and the share of women who have access to an individual or joint bank account or mobile payment system (99.6%). Women’s perception of community safety was also high (80.9%), and the report found no legal discrimination against women in Finland. The country, however, ranked lowest among the developed countries it was compared to in intimate partner violence.

Jeni Klugman, managing director of GIWPS, revealed the pandemic has had a negative impact on women’s wellbeing and empowerment worldwide.

“[The pandemic] has widened gender gaps in paid employment and care burdens, and heightened risks of intimate partner violence,” she said. “The massive challenges created by the pandemic mean that intersectional analysis and policy making are more important than ever as governments and communities strive to build back better.”

Happiness

Couple sitting on a lake shore

In 2021, Finland retained the prestigious title of the world’s happiest country for the fourth consecutive year – an impressive accomplishment. Image: Visit Finland / Emilia Hoisko

For the fourth year running, Finland was crowned the world’s happiest country by the World Happiness Report. The annual ranking of more than 150 countries looked at a number of factors, including perceived freedom, honesty, welfare, good health and generosity. This year, the report also considered the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the quality of people’s lives.

According to the researchers, the manner in which Finland managed the pandemic contributed to cementing its position as the happiest place to live. Finland’s high level of trust among its population helped to “protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemic”. Another contributing factor was citizens’ confidence in their government. Trust and benevolence were identified as strong supports for people’s wellbeing.

“Surprisingly there was not, on average, a decline in wellbeing when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives,” said John Helliwell, one of the editors of the report. “One possible explanation is that people see COVID-19 as a common, outside threat affecting everybody and that this has generated a greater sense of solidarity and fellow-feeling.”

Best hospitals

Helsinki University Hospital

Ranked 21st, Helsinki University Hospital was among the four Finnish hospitals that landed on a list of the world’s best hospitals by Newsweek. Image: HUS

Finland is globally recognised for its healthcare provision and has some of the world’s best hospitals, according to a study by Newsweek and Statista. Altogether four Finnish hospitals made it to World’s Best Hospitals 2021, a global ranking based on three main data categories: hospital recommendations from medical experts, patient survey reports and medical key performance indicators, such as patient safety, hygiene measures and quality of treatment.

Helsinki University Hospital climbed four positions from the previous year to 21st, the third-highest ranking in the Nordics and the ninth highest in Europe. Meanwhile, Turku University Hospital and Tampere University Hospital landed 54th and 66th, respectively. Kuopio University Hospital, in turn, was placed in the 101–200 bracket of the ranking.

“The 2,000 hospitals named in this list — which covers 25 countries […] — stand out for their consistent excellence, including distinguished physicians, top-notch nursing care and state-of-the-art technology,” wrote Nancy Cooper, Newsweek’s global editor-in-chief.

Startup ecosystem

Five people in a relaxed office team meeting

The epicentre of the country’s startup scene, the Helsinki region provides a well-functioning business environment for companies to achieve their most ambitious goals. Image: N2 Albiino / Helsinki Marketing

The Helsinki region was listed as the world’s 20th best emerging startup ecosystem in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021 by Startup Genome. The Finnish capital region was praised particularly for the availability of funding and support, as well as its talent pool in the gaming, digital health and artificial intelligence sub-sectors.

According to the report, the startup ecosystem generated some 5.6 billion euros in added value for the Helsinki region in the past two-and-a-half years while attracting nearly 470 million euros in early-stage funding. The region is home to four unicorns and eight startups on track to achieve the desirable status.

“The Helsinki startup ecosystem has showed great resilience during the pandemic. Venture capital flow into Helsinki-based startups keeps growing and the message is clear – there is quality in the ecosystem,” stated Marja-Leena Rinkineva, head of economic development at the City of Helsinki.

Moreover, Helsinki-Uusimaa was among the six European regions to receive the European Entrepreneurial Region Award 2021-2022. Granted by the European Committee of the Regions, it recognises the region’s “outstanding political vision and strategy promoting entrepreneurship for a sustainable recovery”.

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