Environmental management and partnerships

Environmental matters are part of the City Strategy, which is supplemented by the City’s environmental policy objectives for their part. By monitoring the environmental policy indicators set out in the Environmental Report, we are also partially monitoring the implementation of the City Strategy. In addition to the Environmental Report, comprehensive information on the state of the environment in Helsinki and the load on the environment can also be found in the City’s environmental statistics. The Environmental Report and environmental statistics are open data.

Building and auditing of an EcoCompass is underway at numerous locations

The objective of the City’s environmental policy is for City organisations to develop their environmental management by adopting environmental management systems or at least following their principles. An EcoCompass is a less formal environmental management system originally developed by the City for SMEs, and it has also been found to be a good fit for the environmental management of City organisations. In 2020, the EcoCompasses of the City of Helsinki Service Centre and Stara were audited and environmental management systems were being built at Pakila Work Centre, Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki City Museum, Sports Services, Youth Services, Helsinki Biennial, Kannelmäki assisted living facility, the Social Services and Health Care Division and the Urban Environment Division.

Of the City’s subsidiary communities, Kiinteistö Oy Helsingin Toimitilat and Helsingin asumisoikeus Oy HASO decided to adopt an EcoCompass, as did Seniorisäätiö sr at the end of the year. The environmental programme of Helsingin Toimitilat covers roughly 20 properties in Helsinki, such as health stations, educational institutions and daycare centres. Through HASO, more than 10,000 residents of Helsinki now live in a building for which an assessment of the environmental impacts of property management has been carried out and for which environmental objectives, measures and indicators have been set and regulator monitoring of the results has been agreed upon. The five nursing homes of the Seniorisäätiö foundation provide care for more than 500 residents. Social responsibility themes, such as well-being, safety and respect, are realised in the nursing work. With EcoCompass, the foundation’s new sustainable development working group is able to systematically develop environmental responsibility as part of sustainable development.

The Urban Environment Division grants a 30 per cent discount on the rent charged for the use of its areas against an audited EcoCompass environmental management system in order to encourage events to use the system. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, hardly any events were held in 2020, but the City granted a discount to two events: Helsinki City Running Day and Great Beers – Small Breweries.

Eco-support activity is also active via remote connections

By the end of 2020, the number of eco-supporters working in the Helsinki Group was 1,172, of whom 265 were new additions. In 2020, there were a total of 31 municipalities, joint municipal authorities and other organisations operating in the national eco-support activity network coordinated by the City of Helsinki.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all eco-support training was held remotely in 2020. Based on the feedback given by eco-supporters, the online training proved to be functional, and some of the training will most likely continue to be provided online in the future. A total of 12 training sessions were held, with three of them being coaching sessions for new eco-supporters and the rest being further training and other events. As in previous years, some of the training was implemented in cooperation with the eco-support activity network of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Eco-support aid was granted for the development of sustainable commuting and sorting, among other things.

Cooperation with companies to promote responsible operating methods

Climate Partners, a cooperation network between the City of Helsinki and the business sector, continued its operations for the eighth year. Over the course of the year, climate knowledge and lessons about responsible practices were shared through Climate Partners events that focused on various themes. The network was also joined by eight new organisations: ESL Shipping Ltd, FCG Finnish Consulting Group Oy, Finlandia Hall Ltd, Gofore Plc, Keva, Korkeasaaren eläintarhan säätiö sr, Metso Outotec Corporation and Sodexo Oy. The network already encompasses almost 90 companies and organisations.

The Education Division has cooperated with the start-up company Tideal, which has developed a community-led climate challenge app for the Carbon-neutral Helsinki course of general upper secondary schools. Additionally, general upper secondary school guidance counsellors met up with representatives of companies involved in clean and smart business activity on a ‘working life date’. This meet-up allowed contacts to be established in order to open up traineeships for general upper secondary school students at companies that promote sustainable development.

One area of the responsibility programme completed in 2020 for Helsinki Marketing, a marketing company owned by the City of Helsinki, is supporting the responsibility work of interest groups. The objective is for the interest groups of Helsinki Marketing to be committed to the responsibility work in Helsinki and take concrete actions towards more sustainable solutions and choices. In 2020, all network events of the Helsingin tekijät (Operators of Helsinki) partnership network were held according to the Sustainable Meeting operating model developed by Helsinki Marketing, and the responsibility theme was included in the programmes of the network’s events and the annual Helsinki tourism seminar.

The Think Sustainably service that helps city residents and travellers make more sustainable choices on the MyHelsinki.fi website has been open to all service providers that meet the minimum requirements of the service criteria since the start of 2020. Helsinki Marketing continued the development of the Think Sustainably criteria with Demos Helsinki. Based on the model for Helsinki, Visit Tampere set out to develop a similar service for Tampere. The Think Sustainably service was awarded the One of the Best Urban Designs of 2020 honourable mention in the Cities category of Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards.

An extensive City-level working group participated in the reporting on sustainable development

Helsinki is committed to promoting the global Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda. In autumn 2020, the City launched a second City-level reporting round on sustainable development. An extensive City-level working group took part in the reporting, and the aim of the work was to identify themes in need of development and bring up concrete actions. The report was completed in May 2021.

Environmental management model of the City of Helsinki

The City Council has approved the City Strategy 2017–2021, which is a document that steers the City’s operations. In 2012, the City Council also approved the City’s environmental policy, which supplements the current City Strategy with regard to environmental protection. The environmental policy sets out the medium-term (2020) and long-term (2050) objectives for environmental protection. The environmental policy is currently being updated. The City’s environmental policy objectives are implemented through environmental protection sub-programmes that include the following, among others:

• Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan (City Board)
• Climate change adaptation policies for 2019–2025 (City Board)
• Noise Abatement Action Plan 2018–2022 (Environment and Permits Sub-committee)
• Air Quality Plan 2017–2024 (Environment and Permits Sub-committee)
• Baltic Sea Action Plan 2019–2023 (City Board)
• Helsinki’s Nature Conservation Programme 2015–2024 (Environment Committee)

The City Board and the government have signed the Municipal Energy Efficiency Agreement 2017–2025 and the Action Plan of Rental Housing Communities in the Housing Property Sector 2017–2025, which is related to the Energy Efficiency Agreement of the Property and Building Sector. These set out the energy conservation target for the agreement period. The progress of the target is reported on an annual basis.

 The City Board approves the instructions for drafting and following the budget, which include instructions on recording and taking environmental matters into account.

The City’s divisions, enterprises and subsidiary communities implement the City Strategy and the City’s environmental protection sub-programmes in their operations. Several of the City’s divisions, enterprises and subsidiary communities have also adopted environmental management systems. Below is a list of the systems in use:

ISO 14001 environmental management system: Helsinki City Transport, Finlandia Hall Ltd, HELEN Ltd, Palmia Oy, Port of Helsinki Ltd.

EcoCompass environmental management system: City Library, Reaktori event, Environmental Youth Work Unit, Kinapori Senior Centre, Stara, City of Helsinki Service Centre, 11 subsidiary communities.

EcoCompass environmental management system being built: Urban Environment Division, Social Services and Health Care Division, Sports Services, Helsinki Biennial, Youth Services, Kannelmäki assisted living facility, City Museum and Helsinki Art Museum, Pakila Work Centre, five subsidiary communities.

Green Office system: Education Division administration, three subsidiary communities.

Green Flag or OKKA certificate: 37 schools, daycare centres and upper secondary schools.

There are eco-supporters working in the City’s divisions, enterprises and subsidiary communities who promote environmentally sustainable operating methods and increase environmental awareness on top of their own work.

The City’s divisions and enterprises have the option of setting binding environmental objectives in the budget. In 2020, such objectives were set by the Urban Environment Division, Helsinki City Transport (HKL) and City of Helsinki construction services Stara.

The City’s environmental work is reported on annually in the Environmental Report, which also monitors the environmental policy indicators. The Environmental Report is reviewed by the City Board and City Council. 

Eyes on the future

In 2021, the City’s environmental policy will be updated, networked environmental cooperation between various City operators will be strengthened and a plan will be prepared for the development of environmental reporting. Additionally, the City’s environmental statistics will be revised in the coming years to better serve the various groups of users.