Themes for developing sustainable cities
Sustainable development is composed of the ecological, social, cultural and economic dimensions of sustainability. In the Sustainable City programme, themes related to sustainability are divided into sustainable growth objectives, which are supported by carbon reduction and smart systems, and sustainable wellbeing objectives, which are supported by social sustainability and a healthy living environment. The themes are interconnected and complement one another. The programme aims to find solutions especially for challenges that connect the themes or that fall between them.
The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary for the mitigation of climate change. The most significant sources of everyday emissions are housing, transport and food, which together make up 75 per cent of the emissions generated by people in Finland. Cities play a key role in efforts to reduce these emissions. Cities can have an impact on emissions by for example city planning, transport arrangements and public procurements.
Reducing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency are among the key conditions for sustainable development. Digitalisation and smart services and service chains can streamline and reduce energy consumption and amount of work needed to produce the services. Cities have many kinds of opportunities to make the services for residents smoother and smarter. For example, new types of mobility services may reduce the use of private cars.
Socially sustainable cities
Social sustainability means ensuring that everyone has for example access to education, and high-quality healthcare and opportunities to influence in society. The goal of social sustainability is to promote equal treatment of people and eliminate inequality. Finland has a long tradition of combatting segregation, but new measures are also needed to reduce inequality between communities and people. A sense of community promotes participation and strengthens residents’ commitment to their neighbourhoods and developing them. A strong community also offers opportunities to participate and influence, as the collective voice of residents carries farther than that of an individual person.
Healthy cities have good air quality and their noise exposure is minimised, both indoors and outdoors. Green spaces serve as places for recreation and spending time together, which supports wellbeing. Green spaces and structures also improve the ability of cities to adapt to growing challenges posed by climate change, such as floods, heatwaves and loss of biodiversity.