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Helsinki’s success rate in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals varies: some goals have already been achieved, while others, particularly those related to ecological sustainability, require more intense efforts. Here, you can read a summary of the situation with each goal in Helsinki.

Click on the SDGs below to see a summary of their status in Helsinki:


SDG 1: No poverty

– Helsinki aims to end homelessness by 2025.

– Helsinki is investing in affordable housing and has developed a set of indicators for this purpose.

SDG 2: No hunger

– Helsinki has increased cooperation to develop food aid activities and invested in nutrition counselling.

SDG 3: Good health and well-being

– The City of Helsinki Welfare Plan 2022–2025 has six priorities for promoting wellbeing and health: mental wellbeing, hobbies and leisure, physical activity, healthy lifestyles, good community relations and a safe and beautiful city.

– The majority of the adult population are happy and feel that their quality of life and health are good, but there are nevertheless differences in their experiences of quality of life, health and happiness depending on factors such as perceived income adequacy.

– The mental wellbeing of children and young people, especially girls, has deteriorated according to various indicators.

– The excess weight of residents is a concern, and measures have been taken in Helsinki to increase physical activity and nutrition counselling.

SDG 4: Quality education

– Learning outcomes have deteriorated in Finland, and there is particular concern about the learning of boys with foreign backgrounds.

– The Education Division has a sustainable future learning path. It enables learners of all ages to interact with sustainable development themes in their daycare and school life and upper secondary studies.

– The labour shortage challenges the Education Division.

SDG 5: Gender equality

– The City’s equality and non-discrimination plans set up a framework and concrete measures to promote non-discrimination and gender equality.

– The gender gap in the wellbeing of children and young people has increased.

– Helsinki makes visible contributions to the non-discrimination of gender minorities (e.g. through Pride partnership).

SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

– Water quality and purification are at a high level.

– Further measures would be needed for the qualitative management of stormwater.

SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

– The production of renewable energy has increased, and the energy crisis has boosted energy-saving measures.

– The City-owned energy company Helen is making progress towards its carbon neutrality targets, and the use of coal in two power plants will cease between 2023 and 2025.

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

– The employment rate has risen to a better level in Helsinki since the COVID-19 period.

– There is a shortage of labour in many sectors, and solving this problem has become one of the key strategic objectives, and work-based immigration has grown significantly.

SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

– The City invests in the growth and renewal of entrepreneurship and business in Helsinki by providing services for starting a business and strengthening the capacity of startups to grow in selected industries.

SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

– Socio-economic and ethnic segregation have increased somewhat, especially in the case of children.

– The suburban regeneration model is one of the ways in which Helsinki develops its neighbourhoods and prevents their segregation.

– In education and training, Helsinki has developed a model of needs-based funding and measures to prevent the growth of inequality.


SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

– In Helsinki, planning and design promote factors such as sufficient housing production, efficient traffic, operational conditions of business life, availability of services and sparing use of natural resources.

– Helsinki aims to promote sustainable mobility, for example by increasing the modal share of cycling from 9% to 20% by 2030.

– Air quality in Helsinki has improved.

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

– Consumption-based emissions are high in Helsinki.

– The transition to circular economy has been slow and requires active measures; the City of Helsinki’s Roadmap for Circular and Sharing Economy is being updated.

SDG 13: Climate action

– Helsinki is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030 and is exploring the possibility of carbon negativity from 2040 onwards.

– Traffic emissions are the biggest challenge to reducing emissions locally.

– Greater effectiveness is being sought for climate change adaptation goals.

SDG 14: Life below water

– Increasing pollutants in stormwater pose a risk to small water bodies and the coastal area.

– The state of coastal waters remains poor and has not developed as hoped.

SDG 15: Life on land

– The number of nature conservation areas in Helsinki has increased by five areas per year in line with the objectives of the strategy, and the implementation of measures under the Biodiversity Action Plan is underway.

– The growth of the city and safeguarding nature values have become a key challenge.

SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

– The number of young people committing crimes and violence against women have increased.

– New means are being sought to improve the perception of safety and prevent radicalisation, particularly among young people.

– The City’s Participation and Interaction Model was created to support the promotion of participation, and the model is being implemented in all of the City’s divisions.

– Human rights issues and work-related exploitation have become more prominent, and efforts are being made to combat them in Helsinki’s procurement.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

– Helsinki has developed a new model for coordinating NGO cooperation.

– In 2022, almost EUR 50 million were allocated in grants.

– International cooperation and interest representation are actively carried out.

  • Finland and Helsinki are pioneers in implementing sustainable development in many areas and perform well in international comparisons. However, per capita consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions and natural resource consumption are at a high and unsustainable level by global standards.
  • A large proportion of Agenda 2030 objectives are implemented at a municipal level, and cities play a key role in achieving these objectives. Key actions related to the promotion of sustainable development objectives in cities include land use and construction, promotion of wellbeing and health, education and activities related to vitality and employment.
  • Helsinki’s areas for development still include concrete and measurable targets, only a few of which have been set so far, such as the emissions target. In particular, long-term goals and a vision for 2030 and 2050 are missing in many sustainability themes.
  • The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals requires cultural change. Helsinki will change, which will also require a change in our mindset, operating methods and management structures. Change may become more rapid and less predictable, requiring a greater ability to adapt to change.
  • The conflict between the city's growth and the objectives of protecting green spaces and the environment has become increasingly apparent and calls for reconciliation.
  • The current climate actions will not achieve Helsinki’s carbon neutrality targets, and there are challenges in the reduction of transport emissions in particular. With the currently existing actions, the emissions will be 1,098 ktCO2e in 2030, whereas carbon neutrality requires that the emissions are cut down to the level of 702 ktCO2e.
  • Climate change adaptation and the safeguarding of biodiversity would also require swift and more strategic measures.
  • Developing inequalities and segregation are among the biggest challenges to social sustainability, and addressing and preventing them requires action in Helsinki. Particular cause for concern is the segregation of children and young people on the basis of their ethnic background, which is reflected, among other things, in regional differences in schools.
  • The majority of Helsinki residents feel that their quality of life and health is good and are happy. However, there is significant variation in the prevalence of morbidity and public diseases between the districts of Helsinki.
  • The physical activity of Helsinki residents is too low compared to the recommendations, and the excess weight of residents has not been reduced.
  • Mental wellbeing challenges and increased loneliness experienced by children and young people, as well as psychological strain among the adult population, are more common in Helsinki than in Finland as a whole.
  • Safety and preparedness have been given more prominence in the review, with particular concerns about children and young people’s experiences of safety and radicalisation, as well as violence in close relationships. Indicators show that the number of young people committing crimes and violence against women have increased, for example.

Helsinki’s top five successes:

  • The sustainable development learning path has been integrated into early childhood education.
  • The production of renewable energy has increased, and air quality has improved.
  • The promotion of cultural equality has been made an important priority throughout the cultural sector.
  • The suburban regeneration model improves the comfort and attractiveness of residential areas and enables high-quality complementary construction.
  • Mental health service chains and training have been developed, and investments have been made to support physical activity and hobbies.