The Espoo Story: “Espoo will continue to be the most sustainable city in Europe.”

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2017-09-25 11:20

During this council term, some of the key objectives of the city will be to bring the school facilities up-to-code and to make Espoo carbon neutral by the year 2030.

“We are developing Espoo in an economically, ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable manner based on the foundation of five city centres and efficient rail and feeder traffic. Espoo will be carbon neutral by the year 2030. Indoor air problems in schools and day-care centres will be corrected through a significant investment programme utilising standardised schools and the school fund, and by increasing the utilisation rate of the premises. Adequate and functional temporary premises will be reserved to meet the need of the users, and the School as a Service model will be put to work. All sectors will cooperate in preparing the space distribution plan that will meet the goals set by the Education and Cultural Services,” says Mayor Jukka Mäkelä, listing some of the council’s key objectives for the Espoo Story term.

The Espoo Story, or the city’s strategy for the years 2017 - 2021, has been prepared for a long time in close cooperation between Espoo residents, staff and officials. On the 11 September, after the council group negotiation rounds, the Espoo Story has returned to the City Board and Council for processing.

The opinions of Espoo residents have been listened with a keen ear. “The residents’ views were surveyed last fall by the ‘My Espoo is’ questionnaire, and we received 6,150 answers containing 21,600 individual suggestions or comments in total,” explains Mayor Jukka Mäkelä. The results of the survey showed that Espoo residents value their immediate nature and safety in particular.

In a study conducted in 2016, Espoo was found to be the most economically, socially, culturally and ecologically sustainable city in Europe. According to the follow-up study from last spring, Espoo has maintained its position as the top city in Europe in terms of sustainability.

“Success in the assessment combined with our residents’ hopes for a sustainable and safe city have inspired us to set the goals higher than before. We want to maintain our position as the most sustainable city in Europe in the coming years,” Mayor Jukka Mäkelä says. The aim is to keep Espoo on the high-quality, sustainable growth path.

School facilities up-to-code, focus on learning

The concrete objectives for the council term lasting the next four years have to do with education and well-being, improvement of vitality, competitiveness and employment as well as the environment, construction and traffic and the city economics, personnel and management.

Espoo’s goals include, for example, to have the best learning results in Finland. School and day-care premises will be brought up-to-code to get rid of the indoor air problems and temporary facilities. The School as a Service model utilising various premises will be expanded further. Service centres, like the one in Matinkylä, will also be developed in other city centres.

The employment rate will be increased by making Espoo the best operating environment for businesses and entrepreneurs and by developing the Keilaniemi area as a location for expertise and knowledge-intensive companies. The youth employment rate will be among the highest in Finland.

The five city centres will become residential, service, working and studying centres. All this will support sustainable growth, equality and well-being. City administration and permit processes will be simplified, and the possibility to use English in the electronic services of the city will be improved. The amount of debt incurred by Espoo Group will be smaller at the end of the council term. To this end, the growing city has decided to set an investment ceiling of 280 million euros per year.

Solutions sought through cross-boundary cooperation

In this council term, Espoo will continue the cross-administrative development work found fruitful during the last term. Cross-administrative development programmes have been employed for politicians and officials to cooperate and find solutions to the most important challenges across sector boundaries.

“The results of these development programmes are producing an ecologically, socio-culturally and economically more sustainable Espoo. The successful implementation of the development programmes is essentially rooted in two things: doing things together and crossing boundaries. The goal of the Espoo Story is to engage the residents and employees of the city. Through the development programmes, we will be successful in doing this," says Mayor Mäkelä.