People sitting on the terrace of the Oodi library. Photo: Helsinki Marketing, Jussi Hellsten.

Helsinki publishes its second review of the implementation of sustainable development goals

The City of Helsinki aims to be a pioneer in sustainable development. Helsinki was the second city in the world and the first European city to commit to the Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The first review was published in June 2019. In the From Agenda to Action 2021 review published today, the City evaluates extensively how environmental, social and economic sustainability are being realised in Helsinki.

The new publication reviews the realisation of all 17 UN SDGs in the Helsinki city organisation.The review focuses on action and highlights the successes and areas for development. In addition to all of the City’s divisions, some Helsinki City Group enterprises also participated in the reviewing efforts.

Helsinki has a long tradition of promoting sustainable development, and sustainability is also a foundation of the City’s basic services. Many of the SDGs are realised at a good level in Helsinki, and the City’s objectives are very ambitious. However, there are challenges in achieving the goals, especially with environmental sustainability, and even Helsinki must look at the global impact of its actions and Earth’s capacity.

The restrictions and financial difficulties related to the COVID-19 crisis have placed significant stress on the entire population of Helsinki. Inequality and gaps in well-being and income between different groups are on the increase, and the pandemic has made inequality even more prominent. Special concerns involve the mental well-being and learning deficiency of children and young people.

”Agenda 2030 is a universal commitment to promoting sustainable development in the world. Originally an agreement between nations, the SDGs became important to local and regional governments quickly. The commitment to local reviews - VLRs - raised cities to the role they deserve in implementing the Agenda. The pragmatic role of local governments must be promoted further if we want to get even close to realising the Agenda within the target schedule. Helsinki seeks to be a pioneer in this work”, says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.

Helsinki would also like to inspire other cities to join the SDG work and shares openly its solutions to be used by others. Helsinki has been extensively involved in the development of the Voluntary Local Review processes, and more than 200 cities worldwide have committed to the VLR in two years. In addition to Helsinki, the Finnish cities that have made their review are Espoo and Turku. The reviews have become a shared tool and language for cities to achieve the SDGs. As regards the actual implementation of the SDGs, a significant share will be conducted at the local level, and cities will play an important role in ensuring the successful achievement of the goals. In other words, the cities will be the ones to transform the goals from items on an agenda to concrete measures.

In 2015, the UN member countries agreed upon a set of goals and an agenda for sustainable development. The Agenda 2030 aims for sustainable development that affords equal consideration to the environment, economy and people. The From Agenda to Action 2021 review will be presented to the UN in July.

From Agenda to Action 2021 will be published online on the new Sustainable Helsinki website. The site also includes additional information about actions that build a sustainable Helsinki, as well as news about sustainability.

Presentation of the From Agenda to Action 2021 review and discussion on sustainable development in Helsinki:

Sustainable Helsinki – How does Helsinki implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?
19 May 2021 at 16:00–17:15
on the Helsinki-kanava channel: https://www.helsinkikanava.fi/fi/web/helsinkikanava/player/event/home?eventId=99672380
(Event in Finnish)