Council approved objectives for sustainable Espoo
The war in Ukraine and the rise in the price of fossil fuels will boost the Sustainable Development Programme.
Published in Länsiväylä on 27 April.
Espoo will be carbon-neutral by 2030, meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and serve as a model city for sustainable development for the whole world. The objectives adopted by the City Council in March are ambitious – and now more topical than ever.
“Achieving the objectives of the Sustainable Espoo development programme has become increasingly important in this global political situation,” says Strategy Director Pasi Laitala.
While the price of fossil fuels has risen dramatically, climate emissions have also become more expensive. The price of emission allowances has tripled from last year. Energy companies are racing to find emission-free and economically more profitable ways of producing energy to replace fossil fuels.
Fortunately, the work is well under way in Espoo. The City committed to the carbon neutrality target already in 2017 and e.g. the replacement of coal with emission-free heat sources is progressing rapidly.
Not just because of the climate
“The war in Ukraine has made all of us understand the importance of breaking away from fossil energy,” says Meri Löttyniemi, Chair of the Espoo Development Programme for Sustainable Development.
In this situation, stopping the use of fossil fuels will not only combat the climate crisis but also improve the security of supply in Finland and reduce the income flow of a country leading a war of aggression.
In Espoo, the programme for sustainable development started as early as 2013, and now the third programme period is under way. The City Council has just endorsed the Sustainable Espoo development programme objectives for 2021–2025.
Meri Löyttyniemi says that the focus of the objectives is to alleviate the global climate crisis by cutting the city’s emissions, but sustainable development is much more than that. The authors of the Espoo cross-administrative development programme highlighted the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2025 as its first priority. The UN Sustainable Development Programme aims at sustainable development, which takes the environment, the economy and people equally into account. Carbon neutrality is only one of the 17 UN goals.
All of the practical work of the Sustainable Espoo Programme will be carried out by the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development led by Pasi Laitala. The Centre of Excellence is part of the Espoo Mayor’s Office, and its 25 experts steer cross-administrative development projects to make the Sustainable Espoo development programme objectives a reality.
In the third programme period, the group guiding the City's work on sustainable development was very popular.
“Our steering group now includes representatives from all nine council groups. This is seen as a joint development programme for everyone,” Pasi Laitala says.
And what does the chair of the Sustainable Espoo development programme expect for the coming programme period? The most tangible issue is to have Espoo stop using coal by 2025 as planned. The second thing Meri Löyttyniemi hopes for is that sustainable operating practices will be reflected in the City's branches and everyday life in Espoo at the end of the programme period.
“We want sustainable development to become a natural part of living in Espoo,” says Löyttyniemi.
One of the objectives of the programme is to make Espoo a model city for sustainable urban development. Right now, all over Europe, people are thinking about how electricity or biogas could be produced locally, and how waste heat could be processed into district heating.
“The transition from large global raw material flows to local solutions is picking up speed. Local solutions also provide more support for local economy and employment,” Pasi Laitala says.
One of the Sustainable Espoo projects focuses on improving the recycling of biomasses. Up to half of household biowaste continues to end up as mixed waste. It could be processed into fertilisers and biogas for transport, for example.
As the old fossil energy sources for transport and heating are replaced with zero-emission energy sources, European cities desperately need new solutions.
“Espoo is a highly competitive region. We have a broad scientific community, large companies and a high level of education, and the city is growing rapidly. We have the ability to create the necessary new solutions,” Mayor Jukka Mäkelä says.
The five Sustainable Espoo development programme goals
1 Espoo will be a pioneer in implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Our goal is to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a forerunner. The solutions created will be shared nationally and internationally.
2 Espoo will achieve carbon neutrality by 2030
Espoo will be a carbon-neutral city by 2030. The development measures are specifically targeted at reducing emissions from energy, transport and construction. Different resident groups will be involved in solving the climate challenge, employing new ways of participation.
3 The Espoo community and residents will act sustainably
The city’s practices will be developed to actively support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as our partnerships. Each resident of Espoo will have good opportunities to make sustainable choices in their daily lives.
4 Espoo will be a model city of sustainable urban development
Urban development will create conditions for wellbeing and a smooth and safe daily life everywhere in Espoo. We will encourage businesses as well as research and development partners to extensively participate in the development of the city.
5 Espoo will be the best developer partner for sustainable and smart urban solutions
We will fully open up urban development as an environment for research and development. Our development activities will boost the international competitiveness of new solutions and support the growth of the local economy, innovation activities and tax revenue.