Finland’s Second VNR Presents Civil Society Assessments of Progress
story highlights

Finland has released its second voluntary review of SDG implementation at the national level, following its first VNR in 2016.

Finland is one of 47 countries that will present a VNR during the 2020 session of the HLPF.

The VNR covers all 17 Goals and 169 targets of the SDG framework, summarizes key changes since 2016, and reflects intensified stakeholder engagement practices in the preparation of the report.

Finland has released its second voluntary review of SDG implementation at the national level, following its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) in 2016. Finland is one of 47 countries that will present a VNR during the 2020 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The report, which was released by the Prime Minister’s Office, covers all 17 Goals and 169 targets of the SDG framework. It focuses on progress achieved between 2016 and 2020, and summarizes key changes and lessons learned regarding: methodology for preparing the VNR; policy and enabling environment; and means of implementation.

As noted in the foreword by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, preparation of Finland’s 2020 VNR introduced new approaches for “intensified stakeholder participation,” with several stakeholders providing their own assessment of progress. Progress on each SDG is presented in the report through two assessments: one from government officials, covering all targets; and another from civil society, providing an overall assessment of progress as well as recommendations for further progress.

The preparation process also included peer review, with the Governments of Mozambique and Switzerland reviewing the draft report and sharing their views.

At the national level, Finland’s VNR notes that a sustainability assessment has been integrated into the annual cycle of policy planning, budgeting and reporting. Environmental aspects have been easier to integrate into policy than social aspects, the report reveals.

The VNR also reflects SDG localization in Finland, noting that cities’ engagement in implementing the 2030 Agenda has increased, and three cities have prepared Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). In addition, the autonomous region of Åland has integrated the SDGs into its core strategies.

The report provides an update on two major features of Finland’s approach to sustainable development – the circular economy, and the ‘Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development 2050.’ On circular economy, after creating the world’s first roadmap to a circular economy in 2016, its objective is now to “bring the circular economy to the core of competitiveness and economic growth strategy, transition to low-carbon energy, start considering natural resources as a scarcity and promote the shift to a sustainable lifestyle.” Per the national roadmap, Finland aims to be a leading nation in circular economy by 2025.

On the Society’s Commitment, the report describes the tool enabling anyone in Finland to register a concrete action towards the SDGs, and reports that as of March 2020 over 2,000 commitments are listed, with private companies, schools and individual citizens being the most active partners. The latest version of the platform allows users to calculate their personal carbon footprint, draw up a personal plan to reduce their footprint, and track their contribution to the national emissions reduction target.

Looking forward, the government notes that:

  • A national implementation plan for 2020-2025 will be submitted to the Parliament later in 2020;
  • In 2021, Finland will prepare a national 2030 Agenda Roadmap, to support a “systemic, long-term approach” to sustainability transformations;
  • The Government will commission an evaluation of national sustainable development policy in 2023;
  • Finland is striving for carbon neutrality by 2035; and
  • Finland is preparing a long-term national roadmap for increasing Finland’s Official Development Aid to 0.7% of GNI; the report notes that Finland has not yet been able to restore ODA to the level preceding budget cuts in 2016.

The government indicates that it will present its next VNR to the HLPF in 2025. 

The 2020 session of the HLPF will convene from 7-16 July, most likely in an entirely virtual format. All side events and exhibitions will take place virtually. The latest programme was released on 14 May 2020.

The main messages for the other countries’ VNRs are posted on the HLPF website. [Main messages of report] [Publication: Voluntary National Review 2020 Finland: Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


related events


related posts