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Promoting sustainable development in the city organisation

Helsinki has a long tradition in promoting sustainable development. Helsinki was the first European capital to draw up an action plan for sustainable development in 2002. Currently, various sustainability themes are managed through sub-programmes coordinated at the city level, strategies or key projects under the city strategy. There are also various networks, committees and working groups operating in the city that promote sustainability themes, such as the SDG working group, human rights network and climate network.

The city’s divisions and enterprises are active in promoting the sustainability aspects; in particular, ecological sustainability has been systematically promoted in the divisions and enterprises. The City Executive Office’s communications have overall responsibility for communications relating to sustainable development and the SDGs.

The figure below shows the relationship between the city’s key programmes and strategies and the SDGs. The SDGs have not yet been thoroughly applied in the planning of programmes and strategies so that they would be directly reflected in the programmes and strategies, but the SDGs are being promoted on a rather broad scale. SDGs that are particularly highlighted include SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), 4 (Quality education), 8 (Decent work and economic growth), 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), 10 (Reduced inequalities) and 11 (Sustainable cities and communities).

In the future, the integration of the SDGs into the city’s strategy, financial and operational planning and practical activities should be further promoted.

Interlinkages of SDGs to City programmes.
Inter-linkages of SDGs and City of Helsinki programmes.

In this report, the review of the implementation of the SDGs has been extended to the entire Helsinki City Group and even beyond it. In autumn 2020, familiarity with and implementation of sustainable development in the City of Helsinki’s subsidiaries were studied as part of a thesis. The figure shows SDGs that have been identified as the most important in the activities of the subsidiaries.

Many people are relatively familiar with the goals of Agenda 2030, but their inclusion in the activities and use as a tool has not usually been identified. The ecological aspect of sustainable development was particularly emphasised in the activities of the subsidiaries.

1,002 commitments for sustainable development have been made in Helsinki. Most of the commitments are made by private individuals. In addition, more than 100 companies, 20 schools and educational institutions, as well as more than 40 NGOs and interest groups have made a commitment in Helsinki. 

Taking the SDGs into account in the city’s subsidiaries

82% are familiar with the sustainable development goals.
55% have set their own sustainable development goals.