The City of Helsinki has submitted its second Voluntary Local Review (VLR) on the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to the United Nations. This time the review was published in the form of a website in order to include more examples of and linkages to concrete actions the City has taken to advance sustainable development. The report can be accessed at the address sustainable.helsinki.
Helsinki’s second sustainable development report focuses on actions as well as highlighting successes and development needs. Thanks to the contribution of the City’s divisions and enterprises, the report is a collection of dozens of stories and examples of sustainable development efforts.
“Helsinki is doing well on many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we have ambitious targets. That said, there is still much to do, and one of the key challenges is ecological sustainability – we must be able to examine global impacts and our planet’s capacity. In addition, the extraordinary circumstances and financial stress brought about by the COVID-19 crisis have strained Helsinki residents across all population groups. The pandemic has brought polarisation and inequality into starker relief. Persistent monitoring and studies are required to determine how various recovery measures come together in the short and long term”, the Mayor of Helsinki Mr Jan Vapaavuori says.
Helsinki among cities that started a movement
Agenda 2030 is originally an agreement between nations. Recently subnational and local governments have become increasingly active not only in the delivery of the actions, but also in reporting the outcomes. Helsinki was the second city in the world after New York to submit a VLR report to the UN in 2019. At that time, only a few cities from around the world were involved. Now, two years down the road, almost 200 cities have joined the VLR movement, and many Non-governmental Organisations (NGO’s) are supporting the efforts.
”The step taken by a few pioneering cities has turned into a global movement, and both New York and Helsinki played a critical role in its formation. This year, for the first time, VLR reports will receive an official section in the High Level Political Forum and will be considered by member states. This is an important step in acknowledging the role of local administration. The goals of Agenda 2030 can never be achieved without the local level. Increasing the role of cities within the UN has been one of the most important goals of our efforts”, Mayor Vapaavuori states.
The City of Helsinki and Mayor Vapaavuori have participated at the High-Level Political Forums (HLPF) before and have actively promoted the role of cities in reaching the goals of UN’s Agenda 2030 on sustainable development. This year, Mayor Vapaavuori will address the UN High-level Political Forum on July 8 highlighting the City of Helsinki’s efforts on sustainable development. Additionally, the City of Helsinki in collaboration with the City of New York will organize an event on the local and regional action on SDG’s and the VLR’s.
The high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) is the core United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This year the HLPF will run from 6 July to 15 July with the theme of promoting the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development as the world recovers from the global pandemic.
Collaborating with the City of Los Angeles
The City of Helsinki hopes to inspire other cities to get involved in promoting sustainable development and to wants to share its solutions openly so that others can benefit from them. We at the City of Helsinki also recognise that we have a lot to learn from other cities as well.
This is why Helsinki is also collaborating with the City of Los Angeles in an effort to improve both cities’ VLR reporting on sustainable development. The cities will review each other’s reports in July to give and to get feedback on the process and reporting itself from the perspective of another city. The goal is to learn from each other and to test and improve the peer-learning method further. Helsinki and Los Angeles are one of the few cities to publish their second VLR report in 2021.
“Most of all, we want to inspire and support all local residents, businesses and other parties to work together to make Helsinki a sustainable city and the world a place where the Agenda 2030 goals can become a reality. There is much to do and little time, so every step counts”, Mayor Vapaavuori concludes.
The City of Helsinki’s sustainable development report can be accessed at: sustainable.helsinki
Photo: Lauri Rotko