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Mechanisms of Vertical Integration


National — sub-national linkages

The composition of the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development was changed at the beginning of 2016. At that time, regional and local representatives were added. Now, the Commission includes two representatives from cities, two regional representatives and two representatives from local administration.   

The Finland We Want by 2050 – Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development offers a strategic framework and a multi-stakeholder operational tool for sustainable development. It is a new partnership model that aims at boosting ownership, concrete action, innovative solutions and impact throughout the society. It brings together the public sector, companies, civil society actors, organisations and citizens in a unique way.

To make the vision of Society’s Commitment a reality, eight shared objectives for sustainable development must be achieved.  The way to do this is simple: commitments are invited from different sectors and stakeholders, these parties then decide on what concrete actions they can take to attain the objectives, and then they measure their progress. As of April 2016, over 240 actors from companies to ministries, schools, municipalities and civil society organisations, as well as individuals, have already joined Society’s Commitment by launching their own operational commitments. When put together, the individual commitments can lead to greater results, can bring systemic change and can create a community of pioneers.

Check out a short video of Society’s Commitment:

Background information:

In 2006 the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development (FNCSD) prepared the National Strategy for Sustainable Development. In the preparations for the strategy, input from the sub-national level was collected. Regional authorities and municipalities participated in several workshops, were informed about certain issues and were also asked for advice in specific cases. Additionally, they commented on the draft strategy document. Representatives of local and regional authorities were also members of the group responsible for preparing the national strategy. However, there was no formal and structured way to ensure their broader contribution during the preparatory phase.

To improve the coordination of sustainable development policies between the national and sub-national levels, the National Commission established a new sub-committee on regionally and locally sustainable development in June 2007 (which operated into 2012). The sub-committee was mandated to promote sustainable development in regional and local administrations, as well as in their cooperation with each other and with the national government. As a special task, the sub-committee contributed to the implementation of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development and took the initiative in the national policy process on sustainable development. Other tasks of the sub-committee were to promote sustainable development as part of the strategy work and planning systems of local authorities, to create the conditions for incorporating sustainable development into everyday activities and into the decision-making of local authorities, and to promote the implementation of the Aalborg Commitments.

During 2009 and 2010 the sub-committee was not very active because the Secretariat of the National Commission was engaged in preparing for the Nordic Local Sustainability Conference in the Baltic Sea Region (Solutions – local, together), which was held in 2011 in Turku ( The sub-committee was chaired by a high-ranking official from the then newly established Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The vice-chairs came from a regional environment centre and from a municipality. Members of the sub-committee were representatives of national, regional and local authorities, civil society actors and other key experts on sustainable development at the sub-national level.

Generally, the sub-committee held about four meetings every year. Moreover, several working groups were established on different subjects (e.g. best practice examples, competition). The main topics of concern were (i) climate change and energy policy (the main topic in 2008); (ii) eco-efficient land-use; (iii) sustainable transport systems; and (iv) sustainable community structures. The term of the sub-committee ended in 2012.

Another key issue of importance to Finland is Local Agenda 21. The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities adopted a sustainable development strategy already in 1997, one year before the government programme on sustainable development was adopted. Approximately 80% of Finns live in municipalities that either have established or are in the process of establishing their own Local Agenda 21. The link between the national sustainable development strategy and the sub-national activities was well coordinated. On the local and regional levels the Local Agenda 21 process has evolved from the earlier approach of Agenda 21 to one where the focus is more on sustainability processes such as integrated management, the Aalborg Commitments, and the development of and work on sustainability indicators.

EU linkages

The European Commission’s initiative “Next steps for a sustainable European future” sets out a new longer-term approach to sustainable development for Europe. This new approach takes into account the Europe 2020 review, as well as the internal and external implementation of the global Agenda 2030. The European Union was one of the most active players in the Agenda 2030 negotiations and now the expectations are high for the Union to step up efforts also to implement Agenda 2030. The monitoring of the implementation requires a governance mechanism to ensure that goals and targets will turn into concrete measures and action. One important aspect in this mechanism could be to link national Agenda 2030 implementation plans, strategies and related budgeting to the EU follow-up.


This Country Profile has been last updated on: Monday, 04 July 2016

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