City of Helsinki, Photo: Ioannis Koulousis

Helsinki Mayor attends Nordic Safe Cities webinar

On 16 September, Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori participated in a virtual meeting of mayors from the Nordic capital cities to discuss the Nordic Capital Code of Action, a joint plan to increase safety and security.

The Nordic Capital Code of Action was launched in Stockholm on 12 December 2019 during the Nordic Safe Cities Summit. The code set common goals and policies for the capitals of the Nordic countries to strengthen safety and security. A meeting to check on the code’s progress and agree on next steps took place online on Wednesday, 16 September 2020. The virtual meeting also discussed the coronavirus situation and its potential implications in terms of security and extremism.

The City of Helsinki regularly assesses residents’ sense of safety and security in a survey that is carried out every three years. The most recent poll from 2018 found that in general, Helsinki residents felt safe. Their sense of security had also increased since the previous survey.

“The security situation in Helsinki is good, but the coronavirus epidemic has introduced new challenges in addition to exacerbating problems associated with marginalisation and drug use. This is why it is important for the capital cities of the Nordic countries to share experiences and practices; we must employ all possible means to improve the situation. Helsinki has an international reputation as a pioneer in combating segregation, fostering citizen participation, preventing youth marginalisation and building multidisciplinary cooperation, and we don’t want the coronavirus situation to weaken our position,” says Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

An internal capital city forum called Capital Room works within the Nordic Safe Cities network to promote cooperation between the relevant security actors and professionals by providing a channel for sharing experiences and adapting new approaches. The group seeks to improve the security status of the participating cities in the next two years by building on the Nordic values of democracy, freedom of speech, equality, mutual respect and trust.

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, this year’s Nordic Safe Cities and Capital Room meetings will be taking place virtually. The first of four events planned for 2020 took place in the spring, focusing on the reduction of threats, fear and hate stemming from online environments. The 16 September meeting was the first online meeting of the Nordic capital mayors, and centred on the security situation during the coronavirus epidemic, with discussion of joint policies.

Keeping the Nordic capitals safe

Nordic Safe Cities (NSC) is a non-profit Nordic security network established by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2016. It works with organisations that concentrate on boosting urban security and preventing violent extremism. Helsinki has participated in the network’s activities since its inception.

Objectives of the Nordic Capital Code of Action:

1. Reduce threats, fear and online hate
2. Empower all citizens to resist false information
3. Empower youth to promote inclusion
4. Build and expand local safe city alliances

Helsinki is constantly on the lookout for new ways to tackle problems associated with safety and security, and this makes joint work with other cities important. In addition to its participation in the Nordic Safe Cities network, the City of Helsinki is an active member of several other international safety and security networks, including the EU Cities Against Radicalization, the EU Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) and the Urban Safety Network.

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Nordic Safe Cities