Voluntary Local Review (VLR) that we have now conducted and reported for the first time is all about reviewing the pragmatic and concrete phenomena, projects and actions, which we have done and are doing in accordance to Espoo Story, and mapping those with the UN Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. In short, reviewing the actions that are implementing the Espoo Story and mapping them with the SDGs.
The Espoo way of doing this process was emergent. Instead of just reviewing existing data and documentation, we gave our own experts, project managers, partners and citizens the possibility to share their insight and report their projects to us. These phenomena were then reviewed by internal and external SDG-experts. Altogether close to 1,000 persons were involved in the Espoo VLR2020-process out of which the content reported in this review were chosen based on relevance with the Espoo Story. The reason for such a holistic process is simple. For us the SDGs are both a corner stone and a capstone that we will use to build our visions, dreams and actions.
The three main results of the review were that first Espoo is very serious about being the most sustainable city in Europe and a UN Forerunner 2025 city. This can be realized through looking at the everyday work that is being done in Espoo. In VLR report this is manifested in three thematic sections: Leave no one Behind, Let´s do it Together, and Accelerated Action, which contain the main bulk of what constitutes the Espoo VLR2020. These are sections where articles about social, cultural, economic and ecological sustainability and what the City of Espoo aims to achieve through different operations and projects are reviewed in relation to the SDGs. Articles are written by experts from within city´s different units, namely Education and Cultural Services, Technical and Environment Services, Social and Health Services and the Mayor´s Office and by key partners of Espoo.
Secondly that national level policy building for sustainable development is important but when talking about implementation, it is the cities that play a key role. The City of Espoo is an excellent example of this.
All 17 SDGs can be found from the review results. Most review results were given to SDG11, SDG 3, SDG 7, SDG 4, SDG 9 and SDG13
Last, SDG4, SDG9 and SDG13 have been and still are the three main SDGs for Espoo. Realizing that all the SDGs are interconnected and mutually dependent the three SDGs are still relevant and needed spearheads and beacons for aligning the SDG work for the City of Espoo. Especially SDG 13 is interconnected to almost every other SDG. One should always look at the gestalt of SDGs but from a point of view. For Espoo it is SDG 4, SDG 9, and SDG 13.
For the City of Espoo the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a way of measuring our sustainability but also language and a way to communicate our visions, actions and dreams with our citizens, other cities, and with all our partners. We also want to use the SDGs as a way of committing our friends close and afar to the shared journey of sustainable development.
ESPOO STORY IS ALL ABOUT DOING TOGETHER
The Espoo Story is our strategy. It guides the city’s operations better and more clearly in accordance with common goals. We need shred visions, values and tasks, which are clear, understandable and make sense. Our first value is resident and customer orientation – no one is left behind. Our best resource are our residents, communities and companies.
Espoo Story has been a success story and the City of Espoo was chosen to be the most Intelligent Community in the World year 2018. Espoo Story is all about doing together. I’m sure we need the same collaboration to be sustainable and to reach the SDGs. If we want to succeed as a sustainable forerunner city, we need to do it together and we need good collaboration especially with the citizens. It is not a top-down issue. If we want to co-create a better sustainable world, we need a value-based citizen oriented holistic approach. We need a common shared vision, values and tasks, which are clear, understandable and make sense. We need a narrative for a citizen oriented sustainable forerunner community, and we must co-create it together. Yes, especially with 6-year old preschoolers! If we want to keep our growth sustainable, we must improve all our actions. I think the education is a cornerstone to sustainability. We need a continuing improvement of education to all, especially for the children. The collaboration with the universities and research institutes is very important, when we are facing the challenges of the future.
If we are going to succeed to co-create a better sustainable world, we need to do it together. A citizen oriented sustainable community makes sense, when we are doing it together. The City of Espoo is fully committed to reach all United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2025.
Mayor Jukka Mäkelä, City of Espoo