Sustainable development goals
The city of Espoo has committed to becoming a forerunner and achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2025. The goal is to make Espoo financially, ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable.
Agenda 2030 is a sustainable development action plan adopted by the UN member states, which contains 17 goals. The sustainable development goals, SDG, are to be achieved by 2030.
You can familiarise yourself with the sustainable development assessment of the city of Espoo in the Voluntary Local Review (VLR). The report includes an evaluation of the city's performance concerning the 17 sustainable development goals of the UN Agenda 2030 program.
Sustainable development goals in your organisation
You can utilise the sustainable development canvas in your organisation with the help of the instructions and template below. This tool helps to understand how you can use the UN's 17 sustainable development goals in the planning, implementing and evaluating activities in your organisation. We encourage everyone to think about their own core goals with the SDG goals. It is empowering to recognise the impact of one's work on global goals.
The 17 UN Global Goals
Poverty among families with children has increased by one fifth in Espoo in just a few years. The median income is at a good level, but the number of low-income people has increased in recent years. The long-term financial problems of families have a direct impact on the well-being of children and young people.
The Espoo City Council commissioned the preparation of an action plan on poverty among families with children for the 2017–2021 council term. The action plan tackles poverty among families with children. The aim is to strengthen the equal rights, opportunities and resources of every child and young person to be part of society. The action plan contains objectives and measures to reduce and prevent poverty among families with children. The risk factors for poverty are addressed through measures related to areas such as education, employment and homelessness. Parents are supported by means such as social assistance, targeted services and cooperation between school and home. The action plan will also make the phenomenon of poverty among families with children visible and raise awareness and understanding of its impact.
Libraries are also key players in the fight against poverty. They are free and open to all, and their operation is protected by law. In Finland, libraries are tasked with promoting equal opportunities in culture, lifelong learning, active citizenship and democracy. Libraries also play a key role in this era of increasing polarisation, misinformation and information gaps.
Espoon Catering Oy’s menus are designed to be varied and colourful, meet nutritional needs and utilise ingredients that are in season.
The activities also take into account variation in dishes and ingredients. The menus are designed based on age-specific nutritional recommendations to ensure adequate nutrients and appropriate energy intake. These are taken into account in everything from the procurement of raw materials to recipes and meal planning. Espoo Catering Oy provides information on health-promoting food to its customers electronically and at various events.
Espoo Catering Oy also aims to reduce the climate impact of food, with one of its performance targets being the reduction of food waste. Each year, reduction targets are set and measures are defined to achieve them. Espoo Catering Oy has steadily reduced its food waste every year, as a result of a long-term effort that started in 2008. In 2019, food waste decreased by four per cent from the previous year.
Espoo residents are generally doing well, but there is also loneliness, social exclusion and social problems. Key challenges to our well-being include unequal distribution of health and well-being, rapid population growth and particularly rapid growth in the foreign-language population, ageing of the population, urbanisation and slowing economic growth.
The Healthy Espoo programme focuses on giving people in Espoo new opportunities to take care of themselves, their loved ones and their local environment, and to participate in activities in a way that fits their own life situation. The idea is to open people’s eyes to all the opportunities that Espoo has to offer. The aim is to narrow the well-being gap between residents and neighbourhoods.
The service centre concept is a way of providing key services to local residents in one place, across sectoral boundaries, in a high-quality, sustainable and cost-effective way through multidisciplinary cooperation. The concept aims to lower the threshold for using public services by bringing them close to the people. The Service Centre, located in the Iso Omena shopping centre, brings together 11 different public services.
Work to promote the well-being of Espoo residents is also being done at Villa Glims, a small palliative care unit. It offers high-quality palliative and end-of-life care. At Villa Glims, each nurse has 1–2 designated patients and each patient has two designated nurses. The nurses care for their patients as holistically as possible.
Sustainable development has been described as humanity’s greatest learning challenge. In particular, growing inequality is one of the greatest challenges in cities around the world. Espoo combats inequality through preventive and collective action.
In schools and educational institutions, education in sustainable development includes exploration; creative, systemic and critical thinking; participation and responsible influencing. Concrete examples of these include the use of forests and outdoor spaces in early childhood education and sustainable development groups and programmes at schools. Me & MyCity, also known as Yrityskylä, is an innovative way for schoolchildren to learn about working life, the economy and society. Omnia, the Joint Authority of Education in Espoo Region, is guided by a strategy for a sustainable future.
Residents also have access to a wide range of cultural services aimed at enabling a good life for them. The Kaikukortti card gives people in difficult financial situations free access to culture. Efforts are being made to involve children and families in cultural activities, for example, through Culture Clinic services, daycare centres’ Culture Call visits and free Tapiola Sinfonietta concerts for pregnant people and children under three years old. Another activity is Espoo Day, which invites all Espoo residents to get involved and encourages them to create culture in their own neighbourhoods.
Everyone should have a strong foundation for life, further studies and work. However, there are still significant structural differences between the genders in their choices of education and career, for example (Nuorten tulevaisuusraportti 2017).
In 2012, the City of Espoo created a narrative strategy, the Espoo Story, which emphasises responsibility and the resident’s perspective. At the same time, the mayor also launched a new phase in the development of leadership, with an emphasis on long-term and goal-oriented leadership to implement the Espoo Story. The Espoo style of leadership influences economic, ecological and socio-cultural development, both within the organisation and in the City’s service activities and networks.
The hallmark of leadership development in Espoo is continuous learning. An organisation or an individual is never ‘complete’ in terms of leadership; leadership is an open, interactive, dynamic process, not a static state. Looking ahead, leadership development in the coming years could pay more attention to the manifold challenges of sustainable development.
HSY’s new Blominmäki wastewater treatment plant will reduce the current per capita input of nutrients to the Baltic Sea by removing more than 96% of the phosphorus and organic matter and more than 90% of the nitrogen in wastewater.
With the commissioning of the new wastewater treatment plant, the treated wastewater will be led through an underground sewer tunnel to an underground pumping station, from where the water will be transferred to Fortum’s heat pump unit. After waste heat recovery at the plant, the water will be pumped to a discharge tunnel and released eight kilometres away into the open sea, as has been done so far.
A sustainable and ecological energy system is being built in Espoo in cooperation between different operators.
One example of a clean energy trial in Espoo is ST1’s geothermal heating project in Espoo’s Otaniemi, which could revolutionise district heat production. Finland’s first geothermal district heating network is planned for the new district of Finnoo. Overall, the aim is to make Finnoo a model area for sustainable development, where innovative energy solutions can be tested.
The City of Espoo and the energy company Fortum are committed to making district heat production completely carbon-neutral in the 2020s. As yet, most of Espoo’s emissions come from heating buildings and domestic hot water. Coal will be permanently phased out as early as 2025. This project, known as Espoo Clean Heat, is Espoo’s most significant climate action.
The circular economy is an effective tool for residents and businesses to reduce emissions from transport. The biogas produced by the energy company Gasum is made in Finland from biodegradable waste from households, agriculture and businesses – it is a 100% renewable choice and circular economy at its best. Gasum has three filling stations in Espoo.
The changes in the Finnish economy and the transition to a period of slow growth are expected to be reflected in a decline in companies’ willingness to invest and a partial reduction in innovation and development projects, also in Espoo.
Given this changed environment, programme work must focus more strongly on cooperation projects and industrial policy. The long-term goal of the Inspiring, Dynamic Espoo development programme was to support Espoo’s sustainable growth by taking into account economic, ecological and socio-cultural factors.
In the development of business services in Espoo, a network of seven different operators, Business Espoo, has been created to provide entrepreneurs and businesses in Espoo and its surrounding municipalities with customer-oriented, high-quality and cost-effective business and entrepreneurial services under one roof.
The Mayor’s Innovation Competition, which has been running since 2012, encourages the improvement and development of City services and the work of the City of Espoo. Espoo’s innovations have been awarded in both national and international competitions.
The City of Espoo also contributes to sustainable development through its procurement activities. Due to the wide variety of procurements, the procurement department has developed ways of working to find just the right ways to incorporate the Espoo Story and the SDGs at the system level.
A business and research team led by Nokia continues to build Espoo’s digital infrastructure and develop new data-based services in its 5G smart city project.
The first phase of the LuxTurrim5G project developed the so-called 5G smart pole concept. The project and its ongoing follow-up projects have attracted a great deal of interest around the world, especially from a sustainable development perspective. The new Kera urban centre is planned to become an international model area for the circular economy, and the LuxTurrim5G ecosystem is playing a key role in its development. The smart pole network to be built from Nokia Campus to Kera railway station will support, among other things, the operation of a self-driving robot bus.
In addition to companies, Espoo has close and extensive cooperation with Aalto University, among others. The City of Espoo and Aalto University are jointly developing the Otaniemi campus area as a world-class innovation and creativity hub.
One major goal of the City of Espoo is to make the electricity used in its properties carbon-neutral. The electricity consumed by properties directly owned by the City of Espoo became carbon-neutral in April 2020, and the future goal is to also bring limited liability properties under the carbon neutral electricity contract.
The cornerstones of democracy are respectful interaction, equality and a positive view of people.
Compared to other Finnish cities, Espoo has a prosperous and highly educated population on average but, even here, urbanisation and growth bring challenges such as loneliness, social exclusion and a wide range of social problems.
Espoo is an open city that thrives on international contacts, and it is home to 150 different nationalities. However, the integration of immigrants is also one of the major challenges for Espoo. The goal of the Skills Centre for immigrants is to support its clients’ access to vocational training and improve their chances of finding employment. The English as a Service Language project implements Espoo’s aim to also serve its residents in English.
Another major challenge is the ageing of the population. Combine this with the accelerating pace of technological developments that are transforming conventional operating models in transport, industry, healthcare and the working life, and it is clear that a great deal of attention needs to be paid to developing the skills of older people, as well. To address this challenge, Omnia has trained the world’s first AI mentors, who will go into sheltered housing units and hospitals. Meanwhile, companies, Omnia and Aalto University joined forces to create the AI Truck that introduces people to artificial intelligence.
The reduction of emissions from transport plays an important role in Espoo’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality. Tangible solutions are provided by a range of mobility services that support sustainable modes of transport.
With five new stations due to open by 2023, the West Metro is by far the City’s biggest investment. It will help to regenerate the urban structure and make the metro’s growth and development corridor a high-quality and attractive place to work and live. Smooth everyday life, efficient travel chains and ease of travel are key factors behind the construction of the metro.
In addition to the metro, sustainability will be taken into account in bus transport in the form of electric buses. In autumn 2021, HSL made the use of electric buses a condition for gaining routes in its tendering conditions. The transport authority will shortly be putting a number of heavily used bus routes out to tender and will require operators to only use electric buses on these routes.
Travelling in urban areas often involves a change of transport. By making it easier to combine public transport with cycling, these modes of transport will be made more popular. Espoo’s goal is to double the percentage of cycling as a mode of transport to 15 per cent in 2024.
World population growth is increasing demand for raw materials, energy and other resources. At the same time, reserves of raw materials are limited and their exploitation has adverse effects on the environment and climate. The transition to a circular economy will reduce the burden on the environment, improve the availability of raw materials and increase self-sufficiency and competitiveness.
Espoo is currently developing new circular economy models that will contribute to the growth of circular economy businesses, the sustainable growth of the city and the sustainable lifestyle of its residents. One of the projects that created these models was the 6Aika partnership model for sustainable neighbourhoods (KIEPPI) project, which supported business-driven circular and sharing economy solutions. During the project, in 2019–2021, new products and services were developed and piloted in the urban environment, especially in the regenerating Kera area. Central development themes in Espoo include the services of sharing economy; utilising material, nutrient and energy streams; and urban food production.
The Sustainable Espoo programme supports Espoo’s goal to set a global example in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the City’s environmental sustainability goals of becoming the most sustainable City in Europe and carbon-neutral within this decade. Key development areas of the programme include smart urban solutions, low-emission and smart mobility, renewable energy, responsibility and the local environment.
One example of environmental sustainability work in Espoo are the City’s building projects, which contribute significantly to achieving the carbon neutrality target by optimising the lifecycle energy use, carbon footprint and costs of buildings. The result is savings in lifecycle costs and lifecycle emissions.
In Espoo, wood construction has been identified as one way of promoting environmentally conscious construction. It is an effective way to reduce the carbon footprint of the City of Espoo and achieve the goal of being a carbon-neutral City by 2025, as wood construction promotes the bioeconomy and effectively reduces the carbon footprint of the construction process.
Read more about Espoo's climate goals.
Espoo is involved in the Baltic Sea Challenge, in which a wide network of operators in the Baltic Sea region have committed to implementing concrete water protection measures to improve the state of the Baltic Sea. The most serious threat to the state of the Baltic Sea is nutrient pollution and the resulting eutrophication. Litter, chemicals and increasing underwater noise are also having a negative impact on marine life.
In addition to the Baltic Sea, Espoo has over a hundred lakes and ponds, and several rivers and streams. Natural waters provide habitats for a wide range of species, as well as drinking water for animals, irrigation water and recreational opportunities. In 2015, Espoo was one of the first municipalities to draw up a water protection action plan. Espoo’s water protection goal is to achieve at least a good ecological state in its water bodies. Most of Espoo’s lakes are in good condition, but surface waters are particularly affected by eutrophication due to nutrient pollution from agriculture and human settlements.
In Espoo, nature is everywhere. Through good nature conservation and urban planning, the local nature and multifunctional green spaces provide both recreation for people and habitats for many species.
A key example of Espoo’s long-term work to safeguard biodiversity is the city’s extensive array of protected areas, covering thousands of hectares, which form the core of our ecological network. Other green and water areas in our city complement the network and are a key part of the whole. New valuable natural sites are constantly being discovered as knowledge about nature increases and is updated, in connection with annual nature surveys, for example.
The City of Espoo’s LUONTO project, which ran from 2019 to 2021, consisted of three parts: a survey of Espoo’s current ecological network, the preparation of an action plan to complement this network and the celebration of the year of biodiversity in 2020. The project serves as a basis for the preparation of a ten-year programme of nature conservation measures. This programme presents the most important sites to complement the nature conservation network and other sites of key natural value in Espoo, and offers ways to safeguard their key values and functions.
Social and health services are facing many challenges: Espoo’s population is ageing, which means that more social and health services are needed. Municipal finances are strained and employees are sometimes hard to come by. New technologies open up new opportunities, but they require everyday operators to be agile and able to change the way they do things.
Espoo aims to reduce errors, shorten waiting times and increase staff satisfaction through the Lean principles. They are used to learn to see the services through the eyes of the client and build service paths that are seamless from the client’s perspective. For example, Espoo has used the Lean principles to speed up the processing of applications, improve access to services and reduce lead times.
The changing world is forcing humanity to shake up the way it thinks and lives. The City of Espoo directs and encourages all communities in the city towards sustainable activities. Sustainable development education encourages people to become active citizens and take responsibility for the future of the world. Building a sustainable future requires continuous, life-long learning and collective action.
Residents, communities, workplaces, libraries and museums – everyone must take part in building a sustainable future. On the liberal adult education front, Espoo’s adult education centres develop the staff’s competence in eco-social education. To develop the sustainability skills of residents and staff, a mobile training course is available, which provides a virtual course certificate upon completion. In addition to this, a mobile adventure game, My2050, which teaches about circular economy and climate change, has been developed for Espoo in collaboration with partners. The City has also worked with residents to develop a health nature trail in the local forest.
In addition to the City, residents have set up a wide range of independent activities: multicultural encounters, beach clean-ups and litter picking while jogging, also known as plogging. Different generations are also coming together: a local eutrophic lake has been protected at the initiative of Hannusjärven Suojeluyhdistys as a collaboration between local residents and local general upper secondary school students.