Goals in the Finnish capital’s latest City Strategy align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the findings of its report will inform its future plans.
Helsinki is the first European city to deliver a sustainable development report to the United Nations (UN).
The report was delivered to the UN at its High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development held in New York on 9-19 July 2019 where Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori also spoke.
Viewed as the UN’s most important conference on sustainable development, the HLPF assesses global progress towards the goals stated in the Agenda 2030 action programme for sustainable development.
Introduced in 2015, the Agenda 2030 action programme aims to eradicate extreme poverty and to take environment, economy and people equally into account when it comes sustainable development.
In September 2018, Helsinki voluntarily committed itself to reporting to the UN about its own implementation of the sustainable development goals, as the second city in the world, second only to New York.
The report, From Agenda to Action – The Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki 2019, was completed in June 2019.
According to Helsinki, the findings of the report show that the goals in its latest city strategy match the UN sustainable development goals very well.
"Cities are increasingly joining ranks with states to solve global problems. The most important, concrete work with Agenda 2030 is done at local level – near people”
Helsinki also reports it has already carried out or is in the process of carrying out many measures that promote the UN goals. The findings of the report will also be used to support the planning of the city’s actions in future.
Vapaavuori made his address at a session around the theme of developing the role of the HLPF so as to make it an even more efficient monitor of Agenda 2030 implementation when the first four-year cycle ends.
Helsinki and New York have been cooperating closely throughout the process, and they encourage other cities to engage into voluntary implementation reporting.
“The influence of cities in the world is constantly growing, owing to factors such as urbanisation and the urban nature of global challenges. Cities are increasingly joining ranks with states to solve global problems. The most important, concrete work with Agenda 2030 is done at local level – near people,” said Vapaavuori.
“Helsinki actively cooperates with other cities to ensure that the role of cities as influencers is acknowledged in key international forums and networks. In future, an important forum for cooperation between states and cities could be the implementation of the UN goals for sustainable development.”
Themes emphasised by Finland in the forum include education, competence and future-skills, and their links to sustainable development. The delegation, headed by minister of education Li Andersson, includes representatives of Helsinki, several ministries, the local Agenda 2030 youth organisation as well as civic organisations and business.
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