Finland Assesses Progress on 2030 Agenda, SDG Implementation
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Finland has published a report titled, ‘Towards the Finland we Want by 2050: the State of Sustainable Development in 2019 in light of Indicators and Comparative Studies’.

The report measures progress on issues including the state of nature and the environment, public procurement and consumption, prerequisites for health, social exclusion and inclusivity, education and development of competence, and global responsibility and policy coherence.

Finland’s Prime Minister’s Office has also commissioned and funded a project (Polku 2030) to evaluate Finland’s sustainable development policy and make recommendations for further action, and also established a Citizens' Panel on sustainable development to comment on various aspects of sustainable development in Finland.

May 2019: As part of its follow-up process on the 2030 Agenda, Finland has carried out various initiatives to assess progress on sustainable development in the country. The initiatives include: an assessment of the state of sustainable development in Finland in 2019, based largely on information generated through the country’s national indicators for sustainable development; an evaluation of Finland’s sustainable development policy through the Polku 2030 (‘Path 2030’) project; and the establishment of a “citizens’ panel” on sustainable development.

In June 2016, Finland reported that its strategic framework and multi-stakeholder tool known as ‘Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development’ had been updated in line with the 2030 Agenda. Now maintained by the country’s Commission for Sustainable Development, the online platform enables organizations, businesses and other entities in Finland to announce operational commitments linked to eight objectives that carry out the 17 SDGs, namely: equal prospects for well-being; a participatory society for citizens; sustainable employment; sustainable society and local communities; a carbon-neutral society; a resource-wise economy; lifestyles respectful of the carrying capacity of nature; and decision-making respectful of nature.

Progress on these objectives is reported in the 2019 assessment, which is titled, ‘Towards the Finland we Want by 2050: the State of Sustainable Development in 2019 in light of Indicators and Comparative Studies.’ The report is issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. Among other observations, the report concludes that:

  • the state of the environment has been improving as a result of efforts to reduce emissions from major individual sources of pollution, but loss of biodiversity continues, with 10% of Finnish species estimated to be threatened;
  • Finland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have decreased, but there is still “much to be done” to reduce them;
  • the country spends €30-35 billion on public procurement every year, but lacks quantitative follow-up data on the impact of these efforts;
  • the recycling rate of municipal waste is over 40%, but needs to be raised further;
  • Finns’ perceived well-being has improved, but violence against women needs to be addressed, as Finland is the second most violent country for women within the EU;
  • income disparities in Finland are among the lowest in the EU, and basic social assistance has grown;
  • more young people aged 15-24 are in employment, education or training;
  • the employment rate has improved, but gaps remain on gender equality, as the pay gap between women and men is above the EU average, and women have less autonomy at work then men;
  • sustainable development is taken more effectively into account in schools, including nursery schools; and
  • Finland’s level of commitment to improving lives in the poorest countries is “good” by international standards, but falls short of other Nordic countries in the area of development cooperation funding.

Finland’s Prime Minister’s Office has also commissioned and funded a project (Polku 2030) that evaluates Finland’s sustainable development policy and makes recommendations for further action. The project was conducted by key parties and stakeholders involved in sustainable development policy. It concludes that Finland is among the best countries in the world on sustainable development.

According to a policy brief on the project, Finland’s strengths include education and skills, societal stability, strong institutions and an administrative model of sustainable development that integrates different groups widely. However, the brief also notes that Finland needs to make its sustainable development policy more coherent and transformative.

Among recommendations resulting from the project, the policy brief indicates that the government should create a national roadmap until 2030 to define how Finland will achieve the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs and support their achievement at the EU and global levels. It also recommends to: continue and widen the governmental budgeting process of accounting for sustainable development; strengthen scientific support and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda by increasing awareness and utilization of the indicators and linking them clearly to the SDGs; and better integrate sustainable development in Finland’s foreign and development policies, including by ensuring a broad-based commitment to reach 0.7% of the country’s gross national income (GNI) allocated to development cooperation.

To complement these assessments, in late 2018 the Prime Minister’s Office established a Citizens’ Panel on sustainable development. The panel engages about 500 people to comment on various aspects of sustainable development in Finland through an online questionnaire. According to the Panel’s webpage, participants indicated that they trust “institutions,” and it found that the current situation and recent development in Finland is quite good for “many issues.” However, people expressed worry about the situation of youth, especially the exclusion of young people from work and education. They also expressed concern about the decline in biodiversity, and said GHG emissions must be more effectively reduced.

Conclusions from the Citizens’ Panel are expected to be incorporated into the Government’s annual report submitted to the Parliament. In 2020, Finland is expected to present its second voluntary national review (VNR) at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), after presenting a first VNR in 2016. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources][SDG Knowledge Hub story on launch of Society’s Commitment portal and budgeting innovations]

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