Click here to go to the following issues:

Economic Aspects | Natural Resource Aspects | Institutional Aspects | Social Aspects |Finland

INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN FINLAND


Click here to go to these sections:

INTEGRATED DECISION-MAKING

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

Since 1993, the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development (FNCSD) has coordinated different measures on sustainable development at different levels. The political importance of sustainable development in Finland is illustrated by the fact that the FNCSD is chaired by the Prime Minister and co-chaired by the Minister of the Environment. Five other Ministers are also members of the Commission. The 55 members of the commission represent Finnish society as broadly as possible including representatives of both the central and local governments, business and industry, labor unions, scientific community as well as various NGOs and interest groups. Finland's two official languages have also been taken into account as well as the Finnish indigenous people (the Sami). The FNCSD has an operational secretariat, three subcommittees and four working groups to prepare its work. Moreover, at its meeting on December 1996, the FNCSD decided to set up a new subcommittee on local aspects of sustainable development to concentrate on transport and human settlements issues and to follow-up on the implementation of Local Agendas 21 in Finland.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

In 1994, an Act on Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure came into force in Finland, and, in some fields, such as road planning, environmental impact assessment is already becoming an integral part of the planning process. Finland is also committed to certain international agreements concerning environmental impact assessment, including the European Eunion's Council Directive on Assessment of the Effects of Certain Public and Private Projects on Environment (85/377/EEC), which came into force in 1988, and the UN/ECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, which Finland has signed. Certain projects always require an environmental impact assessment procedure. These include oil refineries, nuclear power plants, pulp, paper and board mills, large harbor projects, motorways, airports intended for heavy traffic, major hazardous waste disposal facilities and projects which will permanently alter wide areas of forest, bog or wetlands. The EIA procedure is tied to permit-granting and similar processes under twelve Acts: the Building Act; Water Act; Environmental Permit Procedures Act; Chemicals Act; Land Extraction Act; Mining Act; Electricity Act; Public Roads Act; Aviation Act; Act on the Redemption of Immovable Property and Special Rights; Act on Privately-owned Forests; and the Forest Improvement Act, as well as Amendments made thereto. Municipalities have to investigate to an appropriate extent the environmental impact of physical planning according to the Building Act.

In addition to its application to projects, EIA also calls for a general assessment of policies, plans and programmes which may have a significant environmental impact once implemented, and particularly those related to taxes, finance, energy, transport, agriculture and industry. Guidelines for this general assessment are currently under preparation by the Ministry of the Environment and the Finnish Environment Institute.

It is not possible to promote sustainable development (SD) through administrative and legislative instruments alone. Other instruments are needed to stimulate changes in human behavior. Above all, there is a need for economic instruments and an increase in environmental awareness. Finland already has a variety of economic instruments in use such as taxes on commodities, environmental tax subsidies and graded taxes used in different tax schemes, certain administrative and municipal fees, financial subsidies as well as deposit systems related to recycling. Deposit systems especially have been quite successful. On the other hand, it must be recognized that in all cases the regulatory effect of the economic instruments in use is not sufficiently strong.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

One of FNCSD's most important undertakings has been the preparation of a comprehensive summary of measures needed to promote sustainable development, called the Finnish Action for Sustainable Development (1995) (also published in English). It includes measures that are already under way or in the pipeline for the next few years, both in Finland and through its international cooperation. The measures vary from sectoral programmes of different ministries and governmental bodies to information campaigns of NGOs. The work to engage various sectors in a more concrete way in the promotion of sustainable development has also begun: some of the most important sectors represented on the FNCSD will have drawn up their own sustainable development strategies and programmes of action by the end of March 1997.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

Sustainable development (SD) concerns almost all sectors of the society. Therefore, a broad cooperation has been generated in Finland among the government, the private sector, interest groups and NGOs, the scientific community, the education system and the media. Since 1987, Finland has strived systematically to promote sustainable development by integrating environmental considerations into sectoral policies. In the next stage, the emphasis should be on a holistic, strategic outlook and on operationalizing SD at various levels.

Programmes and Projects   

The FNCSD has also drawn up recommendations regarding the preparation of the various sectoral programmes on sustainable development, including the Agri-environmental Programme, Environmental Programme for Forestry, Strategy for Conservation of Forests, and an Action Programme for Reducing the Adverse Effects of Transport to the Environment, as well as for the cross-sectoral, National Environmental Policy Programme 2005 published by the Ministry of the Environment. A Government Action Programme on Sustainable Development is currently under preparation. It will concentrate on core sectors of sustainable development: human settlements development and transport; rural development; production, products and consumption, and energy, on the most important issues of environmental protection and nature conservation, on the use of economic instruments and Finland's role in international cooperation. In addition, the programme will identify research needs focusing on multidisciplinary and multisectoral aspects. The drafting is done by ministries responsible for the respective sectors.

Status

A positive sign of the changes under way is the fact that customers, suppliers, consumer and environmental organizations, even banks and insurance companies, are formulating new requirements with respect to the environmental performance of products. Environmental management and eco-auditing are some of the tools for this kind of development and they should be further strengthened. There is also a need to concentrate more than previously on the socio-economic, cultural and local aspects of sustainable development. All these aspects of society and life-styles have to be considered in order to make possible the necessary changes towards ecological sustainability. These aspects of SD are also priorities of the FNCSD in the future.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

Finland cooperates with the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Arctic Council/ Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Helsinki Commission, the Baltic Agenda 21 (years 1996-1998), the EU 5th Environment Programme, and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.

Since 1994, Finland has been working to produce a set of guidelines for assessing the impact on the Arctic environment under the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), and it is working with the other Nordic countries to ensure that the Murmansk/Barents Sea area is made one of the model regions in the World Bank Environmental Management Technical Assistance Programme for Russia.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update:  April 1997.

For national information on follow-up to UNCED, click here.
For Finland's Environmental Administration, click here.
For the Ministry of the Environment (in English), click here.
For the Finnish Environment Institute, click here.
Click here for information on environmental impact assessment.
For information on Environmental Law around the World, click here:

| Finland | All Countries | Home |

 

MAJOR GROUPS

WOMEN

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was signed on 17 July 1980 and ratified on 4 September 1986.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Policies are being drawn up for achieving equality in all aspects of society, including the development of a strategy by the year 2000 to eliminate obstacles to the full participation of women in sustainable development. 

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

The percentage of women in government decreased from 41 in 1992 to 38 in 1996; the percentage of women in parliament also decreased, from 39.5 to 34; the percentage of women at the local government level, however, increased from 30.6 to 31.4 in the municipal elections held in October 1996.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Curricula and educational material promote gender relevant knowledge.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

* * *

 

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

For information on WomenWatch in Finland, click here:
For Finland's Ministry of Social Affairs and Health/Equality Office, click here.
For information on national plans of action in the follow-up to the Beijing Conference, click here:

 

CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

Different youth organizations and youth groups are active around Agenda 21 issues through their own interest. The Government has also involved them in the Rio follow-up work by including them in the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development and its sub-committees as full members. Two youth representatives were also included in Finland's delegation to the fourth session of the CSD.

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

Several groups and organizations work on sustainable development issues, and some have even received financial support. The Nature League and the Scouts have established a Youth Environmental Parliament, and there are some Local Agenda 21 information centers (for example in Ĺland Island).

The goal set in Agenda 21 --to ensure by the year 2000 that more than 50% of youth, gender- balanced, have access to appropriate secondary education or vocational training -- will be met.

Some cities have established citizens' fora on sustainable development where young people are also involved, and the Helsinki City Youth Office has established a Youth Environmental House as a center for activities of environmental organizations.

A special remark should be made concerning youth unemployment. It has grown to be among the highest in the industrialized countries during the 1990s. In 1990, the unemployment rate among 15-24 year-olds was 6.7%; today the rate is approximately 30%. This affects the perspectives young people have on their future and does not promote a sense of being part of the society or being able to influence policy decisions.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

The National Board on Education has supported 10 schools in its environmental education efforts by providing funding and material.

Some schools have taken the issue as a central element in their curricula, and there the involvement of the pupils has been strong. In 1995-1996, ten Finnish schools participated in the international Rescue Mission: Planet Earth project on sustainable development indicators. In Finland, the project was funded and facilitated by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and it was included in the official work of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development. As a part of the pilot phase of the project, a special event, Day of Access, was held in February 1996, when the participating schools gathered together with the decision-makers, including Ministers, and discussed the status and implementation of sustainable development in Finland. In the second phase of the project, almost a hundred schools are participating in the project, and the Ministry of the Environment has translated the indicators into Finnish and Swedish, the two official languages. A new Day of Access will be organized in January 1997.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

* * *

 

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: April 1997.

For Finland's National Board of Education, click here.
For Finland's Ministry of Education, click here.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

A process to empower indigenous people and their communities -- through policies and legal instruments -- is in place, and indigenous people participate fully in appropriate national processes as well as in resource management strategies and programmes at the national and local level:

The "Saami Parliament" is a full member of the National Commission on Sustainable Development.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available. 

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

 

 

* * *

 

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

 

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

Mechanisms exist to promote and allow NGOs to participate in the conception, establishment and evaluation of official mechanisms to review Agenda 21 implementation, and NGO inputs are considered to be important.

The Government has included NGO representatives both in the permanent committees, such as the FNCSD and the Commission on Climate Change, and Ad hoc Committees and Working Groups, such as the MOE Ad Hoc Committee on Acidification. In addition, the Government has included and will continue to include representatives of major groups in CSD meetings.

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies 

No information is available

Financing

Since 1995, activities undertaken by major groups have received financial support amounting to some US$200,000. Government aid for NGO activities in developing countries amounted to some US$26 million.

Cooperation  

No information is available

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

 

LOCAL AUTHORITIES

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

According to the mapping of the Association of Finnish Local Authorities, there were 41 municipalities working on Local Agendas 21 in autumn 1995. Although these municipalities comprised less than 10% of Finland's municipalities, some 38 % of the Finnish population lived in them. In autumn 1996, the number of municipalities preparing local Agendas 21 had increased to 88. Half of the Finnish population lives in these municipalities. Almost all larger municipalities are preparing them. Only about 10% of municipalities with a population of 2,000-6,000 are involved, but, among the smaller towns (fewer than 2,000 people), nearly 25% are working on Local Agendas 21.

Challenges

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

The Association of Finnish Local Authorities has promoted the implementation of the objectives of Agenda 21, and increased awareness of and responsibility for sustainable development among office-holders by defining sustainable development in municipalities, organizing training courses, publishing articles, and creating tools for the promotion of sustainable development.

In the near future, the Association of Finnish Local Authorities will support the participating municipalities by publishing a Local Agenda 21 guidebook, by helping them in developing local agenda programmes, by organizing a conference on climate change issues for the senior management of municipalities, and by arranging other seminars together with provincial associations and regional environment centers.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

Many municipalities have also actively participated in international cooperation to promote sustainable development in municipalities. By signing the so called Aalborg document, 22 municipalities have joint in the Sustainable Cities in Europe campaign.

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

For the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities/Environment, click here.
For the Ministry of the Environment's Site on, "Learning New Skills - Finnish Municipalities towards Sustainability," click here.

 

WORKERS AND TRADE UNIONS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies       

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The relevant ILO Conventions have been ratified, and workers take full part in National Agenda 21 discussions and implementation.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

Trade Unions and their local units are increasingly interested in environmental issues. They have their representatives in the Finnish Commission on Sustainable Development and in its divisions.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available

Status   

The degree of organizing in Finland is high, about 80 %. There are labor trustees, representatives, advocates and committees in the work places, taking care of working conditions and labor welfare. In addition to conventional duties, like ensuring that workers security and health are taken care of in the working environment, advocates and committees are also authorized to look after protection of the environment in a broader sense.

Young people in the labor market are typically persons who have graduated from vocational school after passing the comprehensive school. However, the educational gap threatens to get broader in older generations, especially if those in question are faced with unemployment. The essential way of alleviating unemployment is to broaden the right to education, which will be the Trade Unions main mission during the upcoming years.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

   

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

 

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

The biggest Finnish enterprises have committed themselves to the ICCs Business Charter for Sustainable Development. In addition, major chemical companies follow the Responsible Care Programme. Many firms are introducing a variety of environmental management tools, such as environmental management systems, environmental auditing, and life-cycle assessment.

Particularly successful actions in the field of promoting ecological ways of production have been the Environmental Impact Assessment Act; financial incentives, subsidies, taxation, charges and return systems for recoverable goods on an environmental basis; voluntary agreements between business and Government in dealing with environmental problems; EU-regulation on environmental management systems; the new Waste Act (which came into force 1 January 1994); the Nordic Eco-Labelling System, whereby a product is analyzed from the standpoint of its entire life-cycle; the Programme on Energy Conservation for 1992-96; and practices in enterprises (ICC Business Charter, RC, environmental monitoring systems etc.)

The main focus in the development of environmental taxes has been placed upon the imposition of energy taxes. Fossil fuels are taxed consistently, using a single carbon coefficient. A consistent tax component proportional to energy content are fixed for all sources of primary energy except wood, wind power and waste.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

In 1995, the confederation of Finnish Industrial Employers launched its new environmental policy, entitled "Know-how, Partnership and Eco-competitiveness". One of its main messages is that environmental protection is not just a burden, but can be seen as an opportunity, too. Environmental soundness has become an important component of competitiveness, just like price and quality. Another central message is that success in environmental protection requires high level know-how as well as open and close cooperation - partnership - within business and industry itself and between industry and its stakeholders.

The new policy is being implemented through, for example, the work of industrial branch organizations. Special emphasis will be laid on small and medium-sized enterprises.

Small and medium-sized enterprises have adopted the sustainable development policies more slowly than bigger ones.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status

Reducing the amount of waste and recycling of materials have become major goals. At the moment, half of Finland's industrial waste is recycled, a quarter is stockpiled and another quarter is transported directly to dumps or for other final treatment.

Due to its natural resources base, Finland's industrial production is based on energy-intensive heavy industry. The consumption of energy is nevertheless efficient by international standards.

Environmental protection standards in heavy industry stand up well to international comparison also with respect to efficiency in use of raw materials as well as reduction in emissions. Water and air pollution have been reduced substantially both by improvements in processing techniques and by cleaning emissions.

Over 90% of Finnish enterprises are small, comprising fewer than ten persons per enterprise. Exporting companies - big or small - are nevertheless obliged to take environmental issues into consideration because the environmental climate in many European countries is very strong. It can be said that the consumers in other European countries have had a positive impact on sustainable development policies in Finnish enterprises.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

 

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available. 

Status 

The significance of the knowledge gained by research in supporting social, cultural and other societal development has increased. The Academy of Finland has promoted basic research and made its importance and outcome widely known. The Research Council for the Environment and Natural Resources of the Academy has taken the responsibility to study the environment and natural resources in the context of sustainable development. The Research Councils fields of research (e.g. ecology, evolutionary biology and taxonomy, biochemistry, molecular biology, forestry, agronomy, ecotoxitology, biotechnology and environmental technology) bring together different perspectives on the conservation of the environment and on sustainable use of natural resources. The Council also promotes cross-sectoral studies and adaptability of the research by supporting economic, technical and social research dealing with protection of the environment and the use of natural resources.

Advancement of a national innovation system has been vital in all future strategies in Finland lately. Research is an essential part of the system aiming to modify new thoughts, methods or products into practical and beneficial use. In order to utilize the results effectively in society, cooperation among universities, research institutes, administration and business has to be broad and fruitful. Finnish sponsors in science are therefore emphasizing multidisciplinary research and networking of the enterprises, universities and research institutes.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.  

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

 

FARMERS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners in Finland takes part in the design of sustainable development policies in many ways. It works together with the authorities and other central organizations in environmental projects. In addition to this, the Union has developed its own programmes and methods to encourage farmers and forest owners to conserve biodiversity and the agricultural landscape.

Programmes and Projects 

No information is available.

Status 

The Finnish Agri-Environmental Programme for 1995-1999 (FAEP) is designed to support farmers to undertake sustainable farmers practices and technologies. By 1995, some 80,000 Finnish farmers had already joined the General Agricultural Protection Scheme (GAEPS), which is a part of the programme. This is about 80 % of the farms in Finland and 90% of the total arable area. The GAEPS consists of financial support, and conditions for receiving it. At the moment, any stronger demand would harm the implementation of the programme.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies 

No information is available. 

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

| Finland | All Countries | Home |

 

SCIENCE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Department of Higher Education and Research of the Ministry of Education, the Academy of Finland, and the universities are the bodies primarily responsible for natural and social sciences and related legislation. The science sector is an advisory member in the Finnish National Commission for Sustainable Development. There are also various scientific institutions directly involved and participating in national decision-making or policy formulation on environment and development.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

Representatives of the scientific community are included in the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development. There are a few permanent expert bodies and several ad hoc committees and working groups for this purpose. Several ministries make research contracts with the Government research institutes or universities in order to get scientific information on policy issues.

The Research Council for Environment and Natural Resources consists both of scientists and representatives of policy makers as well as other users of the research results. Increased emphasis is put on the interaction between research organizations and sectoral authorities as well as to popularization and exploitation of research results.

Programmes and Projects 

Sustainable development as a way of life is one of the priorities of the development plan for education and university research for the period 1995-2000. The Ministry of the Environment is currently coordinating a research programme (1997-1999) on the environment cluster of technology and industry.

Relevant current and recent research programmes connected with sustainable development are:

-Finnish Research Programme on Environment and Health 1998-2001

-Biodiversity 1997-2002

-Restoration of Boreal Environments (RESTORE) 1996-2000

-Ecological Construction 1995-1998

-The Finnish Research Programme on Climate Change (SILMU) 1990-1996

-Forest Soil Biology 1994-1997

-Cultural Traditions and International Integration 1992-1995

-Agricultural Technology in Compliance with the Principle of Sustainable Development 1992-1995

Status

Research related to water management covers water ecosystems, environmental impact assessment, waste water treatment and regulation and restoration of water courses.

The main institutions where freshwater research is conducted are the Finnish Environment Institute, Regional Environment Centers, Technology Development Center (TEKES), Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT), and various universities and other schools of higher education. Research is mainly funded by the state.

The Academy of Finland, in collaboration with the users and policy makers, establishes research programmes in rapidly developing, scientifically important areas of research and in nationally important problem areas requiring scientific knowledge. A research programme is for a fixed period, and the targets of the programme and the steps required for their attainment are itemized in its planning. Research programmes are often funded and managed in collaboration with sectoral authorities for environment, welfare and health, among others.

Challenges

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising

Educational institutions from compulsory schools to universities will apply the principles of sustainable development to their everyday work (acquisition, waste disposal, energy management, transport, etc.) The results will be assessed in 1999.

Information

Part of the social research is directed to issues of social exclusion, welfare systems and similar concerns. Practically all the Finnish scientists and scientific institutes use the Internet to provide information. Each institute has its own www site. For Science, please begin with [http://www.aka.fi/].

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing 

No information is available

Cooperation

In the European Union, Finland will work to introduce sustainable development into educational and research programmes both as a principle and as an object of cooperation.

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th and 6th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 December 1997.

For national information on science, click here.

| Finland | All Countries | Home |

 

INFORMATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

All the government ministries and agencies are responsible for decision-making in terms of collection, analysis, management, and dissemination of information and data related to sustainable development in their own field of activities. The major actors are the Ministries of: the Environment; Agriculture and Forestry; the Interior; Foreign Affairs; Transport and Communications; Trade and Industry; Finance; Social Affairs and Health; Education; and Labor; and Statistics Finland; The Government Institute for Economics Research, the National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health, and the Finnish Environment Institute.

Ministry of Finance steers and co-ordinates Information Management and use of Information and Communication Technologies in government. The Information Management (IM) unit is also responsible for co-ordinating and developing Information Services for the Government.

VALTIPA is a network of information service professionals in the ministries, Parliament and the National Archives. Information services include library, archives and document management service. The idea of VALTIPA is to co-operate in order to ensure that the Government and Parliament have immediate and reliable access to all the information they need in a suitable form.

A municipality, the lowest level of public authority in Finland, is an independent administrative unit. However, the government legislation enact that a municipality has to be aware of  the state of the environment, social welfare, cultural heritage and the economic picture by establishing data systems and gathering statistics.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

A reform of the legislation on access to and secrecy of government activities entered into force at the beginning of December 1999. The Act on the Openness of Government Activities implemented the right of access to information in official documents in the public domain.

The right of access to information was extended to all those exercising public authority irrespective of their organizational form. The authorities have an obligation to promote the openness of their activities by disseminating information on their activities and by producing relevant information material. The openness of preparation is increased. The new Act also codifies the most central provisions on secrecy.

The Act on Electronic Service in the Administration entered into force on 1 January 2000. The objective of this Act is to improve the smoothness and rapidity of the service in the administration, as well as data security, by promoting the use of electronic data interchange. The Act contains provisions on the rights, duties and responsibilities of the administrative authorities and their customers in the context of electronic service. In addition, this Act contains provisions on the most significant requirements in the electronic identification of persons.

During the 1990’s came into force the following new special Acts also addressing the flow and management of information: 

The Policy Decision of the Council of State on the Development of Information Management of the State Administration was introduced in 2sd May 2000. It contains the aims and principles for developing the information management of State administration as well as the measures required thereby.

Finland have launched a national set of indicators for sustainable development  in April 2000.

One of the main goals of the Finnish Commission for Sustainable Development is to monitor the promotion of sustainable development, and to produce periodic reviews of the subject. By the 2002 follow-up conference to the Rio Summit on environment and development, an overall estimate of the status of sustainability in Finland and the efficacy of the various sustainability programmes in the public sector will have been made. This estimate as well as future goal setting of Government’s programme for  sustainable development will make use of the national indicators for sustainable development.                   

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

We are going to develop further the national set of indicators for sustainable development. As a next step we will study the use of indicators in different policy making circumstances. Also a need for key (or headline) indicators will be analyzed.

In Finland, all standardization matters are handled by the Finnish Standards Association SFS. It guides and co-ordinates national standardization work and confirms the national SFS-standards. It also represents Finland in European (CEN) and in International (ISO) Standardization organizations.

At the Finnish Environment Institute, method standardization has been divided between seven standardization groups:

·        Standardization group for biological methods prepares biological research methods for SFS-standards and work in the committees of CEN/TC 230 Water analysis and ISO/TC 147 Water quality. Functionally, the group is divided between hydro biological and bio test groups.

·        Standardization group for the characterization of sledges prepares SFS-standards based on the characterization of sledges and takes care of the Finnish participation in the European standardization work in the technical committee of CEN/TC 308 Characterization of slugs.

The own register, which is called STANDI, has been built on standards and proposals for standards in 1995. It works under TRIP-program and consists of up-to-date information on over 400 standards and proposals for standards in the preparation of which Finland/FEI has taken part. The information consists of the name of a standard or a proposal, status, date of calls, descriptors, edition, number of pages, language of confirmation and publication.

Method standards concerning Air quality are being prepared in the technical committee of CEN/TC 264 Air quality and within ISO/TC 146 Air quality committee. The responsibility for the work of these committees is taken over by TK 103 Air committee, which is the technical committee of SFS. Up to now Air quality standards have been confirmed as follows: 45 SFS, 65 ISO and 12 EN standards.

In spring 1996, the Ministry of the Environment started to specify the goals for sustainable development in more detail together with other ministries and organizations. A Government Action Plan on Sustainable Development with concrete short-term definitions and proposals and long-term scenarios is under preparation. The action plan will address the following four key areas: sustainable energy economy; human settlements and traffic; production, products, trade and consumption; and finally rural areas. For monitoring purposes, indicators will be developed simultaneously with the action plan.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

Experts and scientists in Ministries, State Research Institutes, Universities and Statistics Finland are a major group to contribute to the collection, assessment, management, and dissemination of information and data for decision making for sustainable development. 

The local authorities, especially,  provide primary data and information of social aspects. However, they are not actively participating to the assessment, management, and dissemination of information and data for decision making at the national level. 

Lapps, a group of indigenous peoples in Finland provides, assesses, manages and disseminates information concerning economic, social and institutional aspects of Lapps. They have a delegation for Lapp affairs,  and a small office to facilitate the work.

The role of  the private sector in providing information services in Finland is very small. 

The secretariat of the Commission on Sustainable Development requested experts from the Ministries of the Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Transport and Communications, Trade and Industry, Social Affairs and Health, Education, and Labour, and also those from Statistics Finland, The Government Institute for Economics Research, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, and the Finnish Environment Institute to assist in preparing a proposal for Finland’s indicators of sustainable development. Taking the name ‘Indicator Network’, the Working Group started its work at the beginning of 1998. Other specialists were invited to  meetings as needed.

During the course of the project numerous comments and suggestions were requested from experts and NGO representatives, and from different divisions of the Commission for Sustainable Development. The Commission’s divisions hold representatives from a wide range of key society functions. Two seminars open also for  NGOs were arranged.

The involvement of ministries from the beginning was a good idea because these are high level decisive bodies and their commitment and contributions were important. Statistics Finland has played a crucial role in the data collection and in the assessment of methodology sheets. All data was submitted quickly and without any expenses to the Indicator Network. The network has also been open to modifications, for example the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was invited to come along later when their presence was found important.

During the workshops and seminars additional experts where invited to discuss the indicators. This was found to be extremely important and rewarding. During the seminars, at the beginning of the work and just before finalizing the proposal, non-governmental organizations had a possibility to express their views. The NGOs were active participants, and eager to take part already at the planning stage.

Programmes and Projects 

The Ministry of the Environment has prepared an Environment Moni­tor­ing Stra­tegy. The strategy stresses the need to strengthen the legal status and effec­tiveness of the moni­toring activities, and the access to envi­ronmental infor­ma­tion. The main areas in which monitoring and statistics need to be further devel­oped are biologi­cal diversi­ty, land use changes, pollu­tion from diffuse sources, and waste.

A project has been established to develop a new operational data system for air emission inventories based on measured data and calculations from diffuse sources. It will based on international standards and the newest  research information.

The new Act on the Openness of Government Activities promotes good practice on information management and the duty of  the authorities to produce and disseminate information. In order to create and realize good practice and active dissemination of information, the authorities are developing data systems and services.   A statistical system of the total material requirement (TRM) of Finland has been compiled in a project “Ecoefficient Finland”.  The total material requirement of Finland (TRMFIN) includes the time series of the Finnish natural resource use 1970-1997. TRMFIN has been documented and published separately as an CD reprint.

A new system of land use classification has been established. The classification system describes land use from the economic point of view. The land use of a certain area will be defined according to dominating, primary or economically most significant land use form. Land use is determined according to actual, not potential or planned use.

In Finland there are currently 245 local municipalities with ongoing projects related to Local Agenda 21, covering almost 80 per cent of the population. Most of the Local Agenda 21s contain a need for local indicators for sustainable development.

The EU initiative on local-level indicators of sustainable development was introduced in Hannover in February 2000. The aim of the initiative is to create a more integrated system for monitoring the sustainability of development in European cities. In Hannover five Finnish cities and towns signed an agreement indicating their commitment, i.e. Helsinki, Tampere, Turku. Pori ja Kouvola. In addition, the environment barometer project launched by the Association on  Finnish Local Authorities is aimed at establishing an indicator system describing the performance of  local authorities in terms of environmental protection. The purpose of the system is to describe the progress made in each municipality and in this way to encourage movement towards ecologically sustainable development. 

Under the Environmental Cluster Research  Programme there is a special programme called  “Sustainable development and the Information society – KESTY.”  It consists of research, pilot and evaluation projects addressing the way towards a sustainable network society.

The new act on the openness of government activities promotes good practice on information management and the duty of  the authorities to produce and disseminate information. In order to create and realize good practice and active dissemination of information,  most of the authorities are developing data systems and services.

In 1998 the Finnish government opened a public register on the projects and legal preparatory work of the government into the web. The register is also a working tool for the officials. Its purpose is to support the work the government, the ministries and Parliament. The register also supports the Programme of the Government to Improve Law Drafting. It increases the openness and transparency of governmental work in relation to citizens, and it decreases public inquiries made to the ministries. Several kinds of reports can be made available in the register, for example, the report to follow the equality quotas between men and women in the working groups and committees.

Status

The major information provides are Statistics Finland, The Government Institute for Economics Research, the National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health, and the Finnish Environment Institute. They get the data from enterprises, municipalities and citizens by using statistical questionnaires and surveys. Other instruments are monitoring programmes and permit procedures.

For the preparation of  an indicator set was established a Working Group, which took a name “Indicator Network”. It consist of experts from the Ministries of the Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Transport and Communications, Trade and Industry, Social Affairs and Health, Education, and Labor, and also those from Statistics Finland, The Government Institute for Economics Research, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, and the Finnish Environment Institute. 

The free access to information (the openness principle) is a constitutional right in Finland. Information on sustainable development is a lot available. It’s also used and quoted by different interest groups. The major channels are as follows:

The indicators are used as a tool to assess the fulfillment of government goals and targets. Results of the assessment are or could be used to renew targets and focus the Government Programme, sectoral programmes and State Budget towards sustainable development.  Indicators are also excellent means of reporting the state of sustainable development to politicians and the public.

Separate indicators could and are already used for scenario analysis. The CSD indicators are so different and linkages unknown that it's difficult to combine indicators and use integrated modeling. The modeling approach will be studied later.

The information in the matrix reflects the quality of the nationally available data and information necessary for Finland to address the various chapters of Agenda 21. Generally speaking, the availability of data and information is good to very good, with some gaps in certain areas.

Agenda 21 Chapters

Very good

Good

Some good data but many gaps

Poor

Remarks

2. International cooperation and trade

x

       
3. Combating poverty  

x

     
4. Changing consumption patterns  

x

     
5. Demographic dynamics and sustainability

x

       
6. Human health

x

       
7. Human settlements  

x

     
8. Integrating E & D in decision-making    

x

   
9. Protection of the atmosphere

x

       
10. Integrated planning and management of land resources  

x

     
11. Combating deforestation

x

       
12. Combating desertification and drought  

x

     
13. Sustainable mountain development    

x

   
14. Sustainable agriculture and rural development    

x

   
15. Conservation of biological diversity  

x

     
16. Biotechnology  

x

     
17. Oceans, seas, coastal areas and their living resources    

x

   
18. Freshwater resources

x

       
19. Toxic chemicals  

x

     
20. Hazardous wastes

x

       
21. Solid wastes  

x

     
22. Radioactive wastes

x

       
24. Women in sustainable development  

x

     
25. Children and youth  

x

     
26. Indigenous people  

x

     
27. Non-governmental organizations

x

       
28. Local authorities

x

       
29. Workers and trade unions  

x

     
30. Business and industry

x

       
31. Scientific and technological community

x

       
32. Farmers  

x

     
33. Financial resources and mechanisms  

x

     
34. Technology, cooperation and capacity-building

x

       
35. Science for sustainable development    

x

   
36. Education, public awareness and training

x

       
37. International cooperation for capacity-building    

x

   
38. International institutional arrangements  

x

     
39. International legal instruments

x

       
40. Information for decision-making  

x

     

Challenges  

The main issue areas, in which the most immediate attention is required, are biologi­cal diversi­ty, land use changes, production and consumption, social problems and equality issues, and participation.

Population living in sparsely inhabited areas, especially, in Eastern and Northern Finland, in archipelago and Lapland, have the most urgent needs for improved access to information. The other important population groups needing improved access to information are decision-makers at local, regional and national level, as well as, in enterprises.

The major challenges in further enhancing the use of indicators are to collect feedback, to assess the need of  key/headline indicators, to develop an environmental profile, and to strengthen the linkages to policy formulation.

As needs for comprehensive assessment are very typical for sustainability evaluations, poor compatibility of data sets hinders proper evaluation of causal relationships between economic activities and their environmental impacts.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Public administration services are readily available to citizens. Citizen’s guide to be used in the Internet includes all the essential information that citizens need in different situations in life. This electronic guide also provides useful information to companies and communities. This electronic service can be used with all the general browser programs.  Citizens can have access to this service at home, at work, in library and in school, that is every place with an Internet connection. Retrieval of information from this electronic guide and reading of the information is free of charge.

The Association on  Finnish Local Authorities have organized Arial seminars for municipalities to promote indicators for sustainable development. The indicators have marketed as a tool for better use of information. An updated review "Natural Resources and the Environment"  is dist­ri­buted in the Par­liament in con­nec­ti­on with the publication of the Gov­ernment bud­get pro­posal every year in early Sep­tem­ber. The review is com­pi­led by Sta­tistics Fin­land under the super­vision of the Mi­nistry of the Envi­ron­ment.

The latest report on the state of the Finnish environment was pub­lished 19th  October 2000. As the name "Fin­land’s Nature CD-Fact. A tale on the State of the Environment" indicates, it’s a CD-ROM multimedia product.  A weekly television programme called “Environmental news” was launched in the middle of 1990’s. Since then it has been a popular TV-programme, both educative and entreating. 

Government institutions are responsible for the quality of  data they collect, assess, manage and disseminate. Therefore, State Research Institutes and Statistics Finland themselves, as well as, universities and private enterprises arrange training courses focusing on collection, assessment, management, and dissemination of information.

The Finnish Accreditation Body (FINAS) has assessed and recognized national reference laboratories in the field of environmental testing. The reference laboratories provide proficiency testing services for hundreds laboratories in Finland. 

Information

Finland has a very good public library network. Public libraries are Finland’s most popular cultural service, used by about 80 per cent of  all Finns. Libraries have data catalogues  and directories, and access to national and international meta databases.

What comes to technical possibilities, a lot of  the libraries even in rural areas have a connection to internet, and computers available for customers. This service is free of charge. In addition, nearly all of  the schools have a internet connection.  Sustainable Development Homepages are available on the internet. The updating and creation of a functional network is a continuous task.  

Information on sustainable development is available on the Internet: http://www.vyh.fi/poltavo/keke/keke.htm (in Finnish) and http://www.vyh.fi/eng/environ/sustdev/english.htm (in English).

Finland finds the development of indicators for sustainable development very important, and is therefore, one of the countries testing the indicators on SD developed by the CSD. In addition, Finland is preparing its own national set of indicators due to be ready for use at the end of 1997.The development of sustainability indicators is proceeding as sector specific (e.g. forestry), as media-oriented (e.g. water quality) or as problem-oriented (e.g. biodiversity) development work in research institutes, in the administration and in Statistics Finland. The indicators available are indicators for sustainable forestry and the degree of pollution in the air, water and ground. Local indicators and indicators used by different companies are also being developed.

There has been an effort to establish a comprehensive information framework at the national level by integrating environmental and developmental information and a gradual expansion of environmental statistics during the last ten years. Integration of environmental quality data and data on socio-economic driving forces, etc. is setting new demands for the development of the statistical framework. The geographic information system (GIS) represents the most recent development of tools and services for decision-making.

A comprehensive inventory of existing databases and registers was conducted in 1991 for the Development Programme for Statistics on the Environment and Natural Resources for 1991-2000. There have also been some sectoral environmental inventories, e.g. in forestry and agriculture. Shortcomings in these fields relate to specific pressures and impacts, not to the basic statistics. There are about 200 environmentally relevant datasets in Finland.

Networks and computers with access to international information systems are generally available throughout both the public and private sectors. Finland has the capability to access remote sensing data.

Research and Technologies   

Remote sensing is already used in national forest inventories and production of real time snow cover maps. A research project to study operative monitoring system for the quality of inland and coastal waters has also launched. The aim of the project is to establish an operative, remote sensing technology based monitoring system for inland and coastal waters in Finland and to test the suitability of different remote sensing instruments in quantitative monitoring of waters.

Environment Data System of Finland (EDS) is the basic tool for environmental control, monitoring and assessment. It is used by environmental authorities at all levels of organization through the Finnish Environment Network. EDS is also open to other users outside the environmental government.

The Environmental Data System is a GIS-based information system. All data is bound up to co-ordinates. This enable map presentations and make possible to combine data from different databases.  Automatic monitoring devices, operational remote sensing applications and development of dynamic modeling would further enhance national information system. 

Financing   

Information is not available. (Only available, the expenditures on information technology by administrative branch in 1999 was 2 591,6 million FIM, about 1,3 % of the national budget.)

Finnish information system is based on government funds. For the development of advanced monitoring technology funds from private sponsors and international research programmes have been searched and used.

Cooperation  

Finland approached South Africa in the 3rd CSD meeting to form a twinning arrangement in the testing of  indicators for sustainable development. This was agreed upon, and a delegation from Finland visited South Africa during February 1997. Approaches to testing and a time frame for testing and reporting were among the issues discussed. During this visit it was decided that each country will test the indicators separately but at the same time exchange information and ideas.

A small delegation from South Africa visited Finland from 8-12 September 1997 to discuss the experiences from the two countries and to exchange further information. During the visit a workshop open for Finnish experts and NGO’s was arranged.

Another workshop was arranged during the visit of Finnish experts from 20-21 October in South Africa. A diverse group of experts were invited to the workshop to interact and share their collective opinions on the CSD indicators. The specialists were selected by approaching several South African institutions actively involved in indicators monitoring and research.

The draft reports were exchanged between Finland and South Africa for comments. Finnish and South African results from testing CSD indicators are available on the UN homepage.   Co-operation in the transfer of technology and know-how is based on agreements between State Research Institutes, and  research and training programmes.

 

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th and 9th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update:   April 2001. 

For Finland's National Statistics Office, click here.
For the Environment Data System of Finland, click here.
For Finland's national report on indicators of sustainable development, click here.

| Finland | All Countries | Home |

 

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The Nordic Research Project on the Effectiveness of Multilateral Environmental Agreements was commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers' environment sector in autumn 1994. It relates to the Nordic Strategy for the Environment, and is directed to the development and enhancement of implementation and verification of multilateral environmental agreements. The project is administered by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.

The major Conventions included in the project are:

* The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (entry into force in Finland 1.8.1994);

* The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (entry into force in Finland 25.10.1994); and the

* Convention to Combat Desertification (ratified in 20 September 1995).

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement  

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects

No information is available. 

Status 

No information is available.

Challenges

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising  

No information is available.

Information

No information is available.

Research and Technologies

No information is available.  

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation

No information is available.
 
 
* * *
 

This information was provided by the Government of Finland to the 5th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.



| Natural Resource Aspects | Economic Aspects | Social Aspects |

| Finland | All Countries | Home |