Skip to content

Sustainable City programme creates broad-based and concrete cooperation between developers

Ministry of the Environment
Publication date 25.5.2021 10.05 | Published in English on 25.5.2021 at 10.29
Press release
Picture: Apartment buildings

During the past two years the Sustainable City programme, coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, has proven an important instrument in creating cooperation and boosting practical changes towards sustainability. Now an interim evaluation has been conducted to help develop the programme, that will run until 2023, so that it will serve the needs of towns and cities of different sizes even better. In future stronger focus will be placed on impact and communication.

According to the evaluation, conducted by Owal Group, the programme has adopted a broad perspective on sustainability and succeeded in developing the operations both in leading the cities and on the practical level. The programme has responded to the needs and achieved a great deal relative to the resources available. Especially the motivating attitude to the work has been praised. The programme has enhanced awareness of what sustainable urban development means in practice, boosted the development, and created concrete cooperation both among the towns and cities and between them and the state.

The evaluation considers that the programme brings different municipal sectors together in a way that is smooth and natural. Cooperation and interaction have a key role in disseminating sustainability thinking. The programme has developed new solutions, networks and expertise and successfully activated municipalities, starting from their own needs. 

Building cooperation is important because in municipalities the sustainability themes are not the responsibility of individual sectors. Sustainability is often considered from the technical or environmental perspective, in which case attention is mainly drawn to ecological sustainability. Many of the stakeholders consider is praiseworthy that in the Sustainable City programme there is a strong focus on social sustainability as well.

“We will continue with the broad perspective and focus on achieving permanent impacts in cooperation between the state and cities,” Director Virve Hokkanen says. “Reaching the sustainability targets may sometimes be difficult to measure, but the evaluation supports the view that the best results can be achieved through broad-based and multi-sectoral cooperation.” 

According to the evaluation, more attention should be paid to the economic benefits that will also be gained by developing sustainability. In future the different needs for support in municipalities of different sizes should also be recognised better. People’s awareness of the programme and communication on it should be enhanced to help disseminate and consolidate the results that have been achieved.

The aim of the interim evaluation of the Sustainable City programme was to produce information on the achievements and impact in the first two years and support the targeting of activities during the remaining term. Besides literary materials, the evaluation was based on expert interviews and workshops to hear the views of the key developers and stakeholders. 

Sustainable City programme

The five-year Sustainable City programme (2019–2023) boosts sustainable urban development in cooperation between different ministries, municipalities and other stakeholders. So far about 80 municipalities and 50 other organisations have participated in the programme. The key themes in the work are carbon reduction, smart solutions, health considerations and social sustainability, and solutions are sought especially to questions that cut across these themes.

The work under the programme includes solving cities’ shared sustainability challenges, developing new solutions through practical pilots and development projects, replicating good practices and sharing experiences at an international scale. During the first two years information packages were produced on leading sustainability and for work on sustainability in municipalities, and solutions were tested through which the environment can support sustainability. EUR 4.4 million in state funding has been allocated for the programme, and the total budget that includes contributions from other sources is about EUR 6 million.


Virve Hokkanen
Director, Sustainable City programme
Ministry of the Environment
tel. +358 295 250 034
[email protected]

Mia Toivanen
Owal Group
tel. +358 40 566 7536
[email protected]