Environmental management and partnerships

The City of Helsinki is committed to ambitious goals related to the environment and climate. The new City Strategy 2021–2025, ‘A Place of Growth,’ states that the City’s growth must be sustainable and in harmony with ecological boundaries. The City’s environmental policy complements the current City Strategy in terms of environmental protection. 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, Helsinki Environmental Statistics also offer multifaceted information about the City’s environmental status. The Environmental Report and environmental statistics are open data. 

Environmental management systems and sustainable development plans help develop operations

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. The EcoCompass environmental management system certificate was granted to the Urban Environment Division, Youth Services, Pakila Work Centre and Helsinki Biennial in 2021. The building of the environmental management system was underway in the Social Services and Health Care Division, Sports Services, Helsinki Art Museum and Helsinki City Museum. Stara, Service Centre Helsinki, the City Library network and Kinapori Senior Centre continued in the EcoCompass system.

Of the City’s subsidiary communities, the EcoCompass certificate was granted to Helsingin Asumisoikeus Oy, Helsingin Seniorisäätiö foundation and Helsinki City Theatre in 2021. The EcoCompass certificate was renewed for Jääkenttäsäätiö ice field foundation, Oulunkylä Rehabilitation Centre, MetropoliLab Oy and Helsingin kaupungin asunnot Oy. The Green Office certificate was awarded to Forum Virium Helsinki Oy and the Port of Helsinki Ltd. 

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 pandemic, not many events could be organised in 2021, and the City only granted the discount to the Great Beers – Small Breweries event.

The Eco-Schools programme involved 36 daycare centres, schools and educational institutions of the City of Helsinki, and three Helsinki educational institutions possessed the OKKA certificate for sustainable development. In spring 2021, Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute started a process that aims for it to be certified by the OKKA Foundation regarding sustainable development.

Environmental matters included in supervisors’ training

In 2020, the Urban Environment Division launched cooperation with Helsinki Vocational College and Adult Institute regarding the development of supervisors’ environmental competencies. In 2021, environmental matters were included in two one-day training sessions on strategy and the operating environment and a one-time webinar on future leadership.

For the first time, environmental matters were also included in the City Executive Office’s updated ‘Starting in a Supervisory Position’ online training module that was piloted in spring 2021. In the online training module, the section on the City’s environmental management is aimed at all supervisors. In addition to that, the participants also select, at least, one optional theme related to sustainable development, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity and circular economy. The online training module was completed by 34 supervisors in 2021.

Eco-support activity network grew

By the end of 2021, the number of eco-supporters working in the Helsinki Group was 1,325. Four eco-support training sessions were held in 2021 with a total of 93 new eco-supporters across all divisions and public enterprises participating. In addition to these, 14 further training sessions were organised on varying themes. As in previous years, some of the training was implemented in cooperation with the eco-support activity network of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The eco-support activities were showcased at several of the City’s internal and external events, such as the webinar for the Baltic Sea Day, orientation events for new City employees and training sessions for supervisors. Eco-support aid was granted to 18 work communities in total for the promotion of circular economy, sustainable commuting and environmental education. 

Three new municipalities joined the nationwide network for eco-support activity. In 2021, there were a total of 34 municipalities, joint municipal authorities and other organisations operating in the national eco-support activity network coordinated by the City of Helsinki. 

Cooperation with companies to promote responsibility

The Mission Zero Foodprint project coordinated by Forum Virium Helsinki developed the Climate Meal concept for restaurants. The Climate Meal label, included in the concept, helps customers in restaurants identify the dishes with a lower-than-average carbon footprint. The label is granted to dishes where the ingredients have a combined carbon footprint of at most 1.0 kg CO2e The Climate Meal campaign ran in October 2021, during which over 50 restaurants in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area started using the label. The label will also be available to restaurants even after the campaign. They can start using the label by registering at ilmastoannos.fi and committing to using the carbon footprint calculator to determine the carbon footprint of the climate meals. 

The Think Sustainably service of the MyHelsinki.fi website was developed by updating the service’s entire criteria to better meet today’s standards and to spur companies on. The Think Sustainably service has attracted plenty of international attention, and it even received the Place Marketing Award in the Tourism category in France in September 2021.

The revision of the Climate Partners network’s operating model started at the end of the year. The intention is to develop cooperation between the City and companies to be increasingly concrete and take responsibility into account as extensively as possible. Two new organisations joined the network during the year: Rototec Oy and A-Insinöörit. 

Environmental management model of the City of Helsinki

The City Council approved the City Strategy 2021–2025 to direct 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 objectives of the City’s environmental policy are implemented in the programmes for the sub-areas of environmental protection, which include (the body that decided on the programme is shown in parentheses):

  • Carbon-neutral Helsinki 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)
  • City of Helsinki Biodiversity Action Plan 2021–2028 (Urban 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: Urban Environment Division, Youth Services, Pakila Work Centre, Helsinki Biennial, Stara, Service Centre, Helsinki City Library network, Kinapori Senior Centre, Sports Services (certified in 2022) and 14 subsidiary communities

EcoCompass environmental management system being built: Social Services And Health Care Division, Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki City Museum and one subsidiary community.

Green Office system: Education Division administration and four subsidiary communities.

Green Flag or OKKA certificate: 39 City 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 2021, 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.

Second sustainable development report was handed to the UN

Helsinki is committed to promoting the global Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda. The City submitted its second report on sustainable development to the UN in July 2021. The reporting process involved an extensive City-level working group who identified themes that require development and brought up concrete actions that would support the goals. The report is available at https://sustainable.helsinki/

Eyes on the future

The City’s environmental policy will be updated in 2022 to complement the current City Strategy in terms of environmental protection. The City’s internal environment and climate network founded in 2021 will continue to operate in the coming years. The network will support Helsinki Group’s divisions, enterprises and subsidiary communities in environmental management and facilitate functional cooperation and peer support between the organisation’s various sections. Developing the staff’s competencies has been identified as a key factor in promoting environmental work and sustainable development. The well-received environmental management training for supervisors will continue, and the online training module on sustainable development for the entire staff will be prepared in 2022. The development processes started in 2021 for the City’s environmental statistics and environmental reporting will continue in 2022.