People in Vuosaari in the summer of 2020.

Helsinki sets its sights on innovative green recovery – “We can offer projects that benefit the whole of Finland”

Helsinki is preparing its proposal for the Finnish Government’s sustainable growth programme, which will be receiving BEUR 2.3 in EU funding. The aim is to allocate the funding in a way that expedites and supports the green structural change in economy, the digital transition and the development of more innovative and efficient public services. Helsinki and the entire metropolitan area play a prominent role in these efforts: the challenges caused by the pandemic have been unprecedented on a national scale, but so have the benefits gained from the reformation projects.

“Helsinki has set its sights on an ambitious action plan, which will benefit employment, economy and emission reductions throughout the country. We will happily serve as a testbed for innovative trials, and we also have the resources to ensure that the EU funds are used in a responsible manner and all projects are completed on time,” says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.

Helsinki’s plans involve funnelling the EU recovery funds specifically towards projects related to clean energy solutions, mobility and digitalisation. The cities of Helsinki and Rovaniemi, along with key operators in the tourism sector, are also preparing a joint proposal on support measures to facilitate the recovery of the tourism industry. Helsinki is also preparing separate proposals in close cooperation with other parties, including Finland’s six largest cities and various industrial operators.

Functional framework for digitalisation

The transition to remote work arrangements due to the coronavirus pandemic and the new services and applications developed during the crisis are prime examples of how quickly human needs can change and how important robust digital infrastructures, fast connections and the utilisation of data truly are for growth, employment, social unity and well-being. Investments in these areas boost competitiveness across the country.

“Instead of focusing on technology alone, we need to find new ways of doing things. Digitalisation can help Finland find solutions to the greatest challenges of our time, such as population ageing, resource scarcity and inequality. It can also be leveraged to offer improved services to more people, including those who are currently falling through the cracks,” says Deputy Mayor of Helsinki Nasima Razmyar.

Cities are essential for the availability of practical climate solutions

In the coming years, the ambitious carbon neutrality goals of both the EU and Finland will cause significant changes in all sectors from construction and food production to resource use and mobility.

“Cities are essential for the availability of practical climate solutions. They can influence many aspects of people’s daily lives and provide platforms for new trials. Moreover, capitals and other large cities can make a notable difference simply by virtue of their size: successful measures can help reduce emissions significantly on a national scale,” says Deputy Mayor of Helsinki Anni Sinnemäki.

Emission reductions in Helsinki have a notable impact on nationwide emission levels, and support from the EU recovery fund could help increase the pace of change even further. Helsinki has what it takes to develop innovative solutions for clean energy production, which would also generate sustainable growth and new jobs. The ongoing Helsinki Energy Challenge competition is one of the ways in which the City seeks to further these goals.

Curbing emissions through smart and sustainable traffic solutions

Smart and sustainable traffic solutions are essential for reaching the carbon neutrality goal. Improving the agility and efficiency by which public transport services can be accessed will vastly increase their appeal.

“Helsinki is already an international pioneer in smart traffic, with projects that have inspired many others throughout the world. The emission reductions achieved through new traffic solutions in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are a cost-efficient way to further Finland’s climate goals, and the employment impacts of the investments affect the entire country,” Deputy Mayor Sinnemäki says emphatically.

“Ultimately, the idea of national recovery plans boils down to Europe’s ability to stick to the green growth plan despite the crisis. Finland has every opportunity to position itself as a trailblazer in this regard, which Helsinki seeks to support as best it can. This is why we are preparing national proposals for the most impactful and cost-efficient projects possible to help reverse the crisis. We are also inviting interested partners along to think up projects that would benefit Finland as a whole,” Mayor Vapaavuori says, describing the situation at hand.

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Helsinki Energy Challenge

Photo: Lauri Rotko, City of Helsinki Media Bank.