Work on sustainable development in Helsinki is progressing

Helsinki wants to be a forerunner in sustainable urban development and sustainable growth, in accordance with the Place of Growth City Strategy. The development of Helsinki is steered and evaluated through the UN’s goals for sustainable development.
Winter view of the sea.
Photo: Julius Konttinen.

Sustainable development is continuous and controlled societal change that occurs globally, regionally and locally, aimed at securing good possibilities for life for the current and future generations. Sustainable solutions are not merely eco-friendly but also socially and financially sustainable. A sustainable city enhances the equality, well-being and engagement opportunities of Helsinki residents.

Helsinki’s goal is to make sustainability management more impactful and coherent, and to support the divisions and enterprises in promoting the goals of sustainable development. Many of Helsinki’s affiliated companies, such as Helen, Helsingin kaupungin asunnot Oy and the Port of Helsinki have developed SDG-based responsibility management. 

Tools for sustainability management and training of personnel

During 2022 Helsinki has deployed a more systematic way to review the city’s key objectives and programmes within the framework of sustainable development, and in relation to individual Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). An SDG analysis has been prepared for, e.g. the City of Helsinki Welfare Plan 2022–2025, focus areas in business policy, the tourism and events action programme 2022–2026, and the carbon-neutral Helsinki 2030 emission reduction programme.

The budget targets of the city’s divisions and enterprises and their indicators have also been viewed from the SDG perspective, and underlying work has been done for budgeting sustainable development. In 2023 Helsinki will begin to develop phenomenon- and SDG-based financial planning in an even more focused manner.

In the sustainability management network of the six largest cities in Finland, Helsinki has participated in the development of systemic models for sustainability management and of concrete management tools. For instance, the network has developed an SDG outlining tool whose foundation was utilised at the Urban Environment Division’s management workshops in autumn 2022.

The various themes of sustainable development have been compiled into an extensive training package for the City of Helsinki personnel that all employees of the City of Helsinki can complete. 

Indicators that monitor work on sustainable development by the City of Helsinki are reformed for the next assessment of Helsinki’s sustainable development. Helsinki participates in the national ‘Indicators for sustainable urban development’ project, led by the Finnish Environment Institute, developing more comprehensive indicators for ecological, social and financial sustainability. 

International initiative and cooperation

Helsinki is also proactive in international cooperation on sustainable development and has already published two voluntary local reviews on the achievement of sustainable development goals. 

In 2022 Helsinki actively promoted cooperation on sustainable development between various cities in Europe. The City of Helsinki also organised an international workshop event with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) in Helsinki last October. The theme of the event was the execution of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in cities around the world.

In 2022 Helsinki and the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) organised the first two events of the Sustainable Cities discussion forums on sustainable development, hosted by Mayor Juhana Vartiainen. The theme of the first part of the discussion series in May was SDG 8, decent work and economic growth. The theme of the second part in October was SDG 4, quality education.

The next From Agenda to Action report on the state of sustainable development at the City of Helsinki will be published in June 2023.


More information about the work and state of sustainable development by the City of Helsinki is available on the Sustainable Helsinki website at leads to external service).


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development serves as a framework that steers sustainable development. In 2015 UN Member States agreed on Sustainable Development Goals and an action programme aimed at steering development efforts around the world until 2030. The agreement includes 17 different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).