Government’s sustainability roadmap describes the current state of social, economic and ecological sustainability and sets goals for 2030

Government Communications Department
Publication date 29.4.2021 21.21 | Published in English on 29.4.2021 at 21.49
Press release

In its mid-term policy review, the Government published a sustainability roadmap that describes the current state of social, economic and ecological sustainability in Finland and sets goals for 2030. The roadmap gives specific form to the Government Programme’s goal of a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society.

Development is sustainable when the objectives of ecological, social and economic sustainability are fulfilled and when they support one another. In its mid-term policy review, the Government decided to clarify its goals for these three elements of sustainability and to highlight the interdependence between them. The work will be completed before the government spending limits discussion in 2022.

The impact of the roadmap’s measures on public finances will be taken into account during the implementation. The measures will be implemented as part of the General Government Fiscal Plan within the framework of central government spending limits.

Coronavirus pandemic brought challenges to social sustainability – Government’s aim is that Finland will be the world’s most stable society by 2030

The Government’s goal is to reduce poverty and inequality, decrease income disparities and support the rule of law in Finland and globally, and to promote the economy of wellbeing and the conditions for a good life at all stages of people’s lives.

The roadmap acknowledges the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has posed to social sustainability. The pandemic has increased inequality, because it has often been the same people who are affected by many of its adverse social impacts. In particular, the wellbeing of children, young people and families has suffered. The employment rate has fallen and unemployment has grown during the pandemic. Pandemic-related restrictions have also made it difficult for companies to operate. As a result of the restrictions, many social services have been on hold. With a growing and lengthening backlog in these services, there is a risk that people’s lives will become significantly more difficult. With regard to Finland’s global responsibility, the pandemic has brought particular challenges to the ability to meet sustainable development goals internationally.

The Government’s goal for 2030 is that Finland will be the most stable society in the world, where fundamental and human rights, democracy and the security of citizens are at a high level.

The roadmap’s social sustainability goals for 2030 are:

  • The level of trust and security will be high in Finland
  • Finland will be a global leader in gender equality 
  • Poverty and exclusion will have decreased in Finland and more people will have jobs 
  • Finland will be a country of equality and non-discrimination that looks after the wellbeing of the entire population 
  • The level of skills, competence, education and culture will be high in Finland

Economic sustainability – reversing the upward trend in the general government debt ratio requires substantial measures

General government finances must be stable and sustainably managed if we are to provide decent, high-quality services and secure the livelihood of the population. The Government is committed to strengthening the long-term sustainability of general government finances, which is a particular focus of the sustainability roadmap. 

Finland’s general government finances have been in deficit since 2009. The growth in central government debt has been accelerated by the pandemic, deepening the general government deficit, although the debt has remained lower than the EU average throughout the crisis. The high level and rapid growth of central government guarantee liabilities has also increased the risks within general government finances. General government finances have been adversely affected by the ageing of the population and by the slackening growth in the economy. Finland’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has fallen behind that of the other Nordic countries. The employment rate is also significantly below that of the other Nordic countries, despite a favourable pre-pandemic trend that remained far better than anticipated during the crisis. Well-balanced fiscal policy has mitigated the depth of the economic crisis during the pandemic and has improved the conditions for rapid post-pandemic recovery.

Without measures to strengthen general government finances, the debt burden will continue to grow after the COVID-19 crisis is over. The increase in the number of older people in Finland will push up general government expenditure, especially expenditure on care services but also pension and health expenditure. At the same time, the working-age population is shrinking, weakening the financing base for general government finances. 

Economic growth in Finland is primarily generated by productivity growth, and the most important factors for productivity growth are competence and innovation. A successfully operating welfare state, effective infrastructure, education, training, research and close integration with the world economy form the foundation for Finland’s economic success and growth.

The Government’s aim is to achieve a reversal in the upward trend in the general government debt-to-GDP ratio in the mid-2020s. Stabilising the debt ratio will require the strengthening of general government finances. Measures to safeguard the long-term sustainability of government finances must also continue beyond the current parliamentary term. The measures aim to increase employment and reduce unemployment, and to improve the conditions for economic growth by strengthening the competitiveness of Finnish production, increasing work-based immigration and strengthening skill levels and continuous learning. The Government will also promote economic sustainability through measures aiming to strengthen the productivity and cost-effectiveness of public administration and by implementing the healthcare and social welfare reform.

The roadmap’s economic sustainability goals for 2030 are:

  • There will be an increase of 80,000 in the number of people working in Finland following the Government’s employment measures, and the employment rate will be at a good Nordic level
  • Finland will be an attractive place to live and work and to run a business
  • Finland’s public services will be of the highest level in terms of quality and cost-effectiveness.

Ecological sustainability requires reducing the absolute consumption of natural resources and a transition to a carbon-neutral circular economy and bioeconomy

The aim of ecological sustainability is to ensure the wellbeing of nature and the environment, the functioning of ecosystems and their regeneration capacity now and in the future. Climate change, loss of biodiversity and overconsumption of natural resources are among the greatest challenges humankind is facing, and they have major impacts on the achievement of ecological sustainability.

The Government aims to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035, halt biodiversity loss, advance the bioeconomy and circular economy, increase the sustainability of the food system and improve animal welfare. The Government aims to reduce the consumption of non-renewable natural resources and to replace it with the sustainable use of renewable natural resources. The Government also aims to reduce the use of fossil-based energy sources and to promote the use of renewable energy and the sustainable renewal of the business sector. The Government is striving for ecological sustainability in Finland and globally.

In Finland, progress towards combating climate change is encouraging, but further actions are needed. Since 2000, the overall trend in biodiversity has been negative. The use of natural resources has major impacts on biodiversity. According to Statistics Finland, the absolute use of natural resources in Finland has more than doubled from the level in 1975. Finland’s domestic material consumption per capita is the highest in Europe.

The roadmap’s ecological sustainability goals for 2030 are:

  • Finland will make fast progress towards a carbon-neutral society
  • Biodiversity loss will have been halted
  • The ecological status of Finland’s waters and especially coastal waters will be improving
  • Resource productivity and the circular material use rate (CMU) will have improved and domestic consumption of non-renewable natural resources will be on the decline
  • Public decision-making in Finland will respect nature

Inquiries: Joonas Rahkola, Special Adviser (Economic Affairs) tel. +358 295 160 998