2021-05-07 Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor
The coronavirus pandemic has had major impacts on the daily lives of many Espoo residents and City of Espoo employees. It has prevented us from meeting our loved ones and restricted local, domestic and international travel. However, the importance of internationality and cooperation in our work has not diminished. Quite the contrary. During the pandemic, we have learned from each other and built new bridges, for example, between the city and NGOs in order to share timely information.
Now, in honour of Europe Day, it is good to remember that as a city, we want to look outwards. Working together and cooperation are important values not only for Espoo but for Europe. At a time when societal changes require joint cross-border efforts, we need international cooperation forums.
In Espoo, we are committed to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2025 and to being the most sustainable city in Europe now and in the future. Together with our partners, we are looking for socially, culturally, economically and environmentally sustainable solutions.
Through cooperation, we can achieve more than we could alone. The EU and European city networks, such as Eurocities, offer cities opportunities to exert their influence and platforms for sharing and learning good practices so that in the future, cooperation can be even more flexible and based on local resources.
According to an estimate by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, around 60% of EU-level legislation directly affects cities. It is therefore increasingly important for cities to participate in the European dialogue. More and more, cooperation is carried out virtually from Espoo and Finland, but as in all joint ventures, nothing can replace face-to-face meetings as a means of building trust. Trusting and knowing the other party is important for getting your message across.
A dynamic, outward-looking city creates well-being. The key to effectiveness and Espoo’s recent achievements, such as its success in the European Capital of Innovation contest, has been local, national and international co-creation, co-learning and cooperation. In international issues, we also collaborate with our local research and educational institutions and companies. We still have to grow and develop in order to communicate a common message and operate together more effectively.
As a city and community, we are committed to European values and European cooperation.
I wish all Espoo residents a happy Europe Day!