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Prime Minister Marin’s speech at the referral debate on the Government Report on the 2030 Agenda in Parliament

Government Communications Department
Publication date 4.11.2020 14.12
Speech 693

(Subject to changes during the speech)

Madam Speaker,

According to the UN Happiness Report, the happiest people in the world live in Finland. This is something we can be proud of. We have a high standard of living, a well-functioning society, a clean environment and a good quality of life. Finns also have a high level of trust in one another and in the institutions of society. 

The Finnish welfare society was built with determination through long-term cooperation between a variety of different operators. An egalitarian and socially cohesive society is also at the heart of our economic success. High-quality education that is accessible to all has been one of the most important factors in the development of our society.

That said, our society still has a long way to go. Our future wellbeing must be built on a foundation of sustainable development. With this in mind, a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society is also the goal of our Government Programme.

Madam Speaker,

Our most important task in the coming decades will be to build a Nordic welfare society that is sustainable from the perspective of the climate and the environment. In the future, instead of overusing natural resources, our economy must be based on the resource-efficient use and circulation of materials. The circular economy and clean technology solutions also present an opportunity for Finland to increase its exports and create jobs. By renewing our economy and moving it in a more climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable direction, we can not only reduce our carbon footprint but also increase our global handprint in finding solutions to climate change.

Finland made its commitment to implementing the global agenda for sustainable development in 2015. This action plan adopted by the UN, known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, consists of seventeen goals that seek to eradicate extreme poverty and to achieve sustainable development where the environment, economy and people are taken into account equally.

Madam Speaker,

The goals in the 2030 Agenda are very much in line with the objectives of the Government Programme, and it has been easy for the Government to continue its commitment.

The overarching theme of the 2030 Agenda is that no one may be left behind in the pursuit of development. The Government Programme emphasises social responsibility and ensures that we take responsibility for each other and our common future.

Madam Speaker,

The Government Report on Sustainable Development has been drawn up under exceptional circumstances. The global COVID-19 pandemic has driven societies into a serious health and economic crisis. The Government has aimed to prevent the spread of the virus, to safeguard the capacity of the healthcare system and to protect people, especially those who are most at risk. At the same time, we have supported companies, regions and people in order to minimise the harm caused by the epidemic.

In recent months, economic policy has focused particularly on managing the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Although the operating environment has changed, the ultimate objectives of the Government Programme’s economic policy have remained the same. The aim of the Government’s economic policy is to increase wellbeing and prosperity. This means ecologically and socially sustainable economic growth, high employment and sustainable general government finances. 

In the current situation, it is even more important to strengthen the conditions for improving employment and to invest in skills, research, product development and infrastructure. A goal-oriented, consistent climate policy is a basic prerequisite for future economic growth and for ensuring a stable operating environment for businesses. The sustainability of public finances requires not only a higher employment rate but also structural reforms.

The 2030 Agenda aims at sustainable development that takes into account the environment, the economy and people on an equal footing. Social and economic development depend on the sustainable use of natural resources. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will only be possible if we also manage to halt global warming and the degradation of biodiversity.

Madam Speaker,

Commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda is also important for the Government from the perspective of the international system. When the basic structures of the multilateral rules-based system are challenged, it is especially important for countries such as Finland, which support and benefit from a rules-based multilateral system, to adhere to common agreements. For this reason, too, the Government considers it essential for Finland to make determined progress in implementing the goals of the 2030 Agenda. 

Finland is committed to the universal values of the UN and works actively to strengthen international law, democracy and human rights. Democracy and the realisation of and respect for fundamental human rights are prerequisites for achieving the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals both in Finland and globally.

Madam Speaker, 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme global poverty in the world is increasing for the first time in over 20 years, and our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is now seriously threatened. In the midst of the crisis, the world’s poorest people are in a particularly vulnerable position. In many countries, the economic and social impacts are more prolonged and far-reaching than the health crisis. As a result of the crisis, inequality has increased and gender equality has deteriorated. We can also see negative impacts on the internal stability and security of countries, and on the realisation of human rights and the development of democracy.

Meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda also requires us to respond to the world’s humanitarian needs and address their underlying causes. A safe and sustainable world is also in the interests of Finns. Finland’s human rights-based foreign and security policy and development policy are among our most important instruments for global responsibility.

Madam Speaker,

The Government Report on Sustainable Development presents the Government’s measures to promote the achievement of each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in concrete terms. The report is built around the Government Programme and the measures included in it. Finland’s efforts to achieve the goals are discussed from a national and global perspective in connection with each of the goals. 

The report also describes the current state of sustainable development in Finland, the policy principles guiding implementation, the organisation of implementation work at the national level and the mechanisms in place for monitoring and evaluating implementation.

The principles guiding Finland’s national sustainable development policy are long-term and dynamic change, coherence, global partnership, ownership and inclusion. These same principles were already set out in the first Government Action Plan for implementing the 2030 Agenda, which was drawn up in 2017. These principles also guide the work of Finland’s Commission on Sustainable Development.

When it comes to the principles for monitoring and evaluating the work on implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Government is continuing the work started during the previous government term. In the report, the Government commits itself to assessing Finland’s national sustainable development policy in 2022. With this assessment, the Government aims to create the conditions for successful sustainable development work during the next parliamentary term, too.

Madam Speaker,

In the negotiations on the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Finland considered it important for the plan to adopt a wide-ranging, human rights-based approach. Although we are discussing the Government’s report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, it is important to remember how important it is for all actors in society to be involved in achieving the 17 Global Goals. By moving in the same direction and pursuing the same goals in the various sectors of society, we will be much more likely to achieve these goals.  The actions of municipalities and cities, communities and organisations, businesses and individual people all have a huge impact. I would therefore like to thank all of these actors.

Madam Speaker,

The implementation of Agenda 2030 is still a work in progress. Although progress has been made in many respects, we have not yet achieved the goals, either globally or in Finland. We now have less than ten years left to achieve the common goals.

According to the international assessment reports, Finland has already achieved or is on its way to achieving the main objectives of the 2030 Agenda related to poverty eradication, health and wellbeing, quality education, clean water, accessible and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry and innovation, reducing inequality, sustainable cities and local communities, and the functioning of institutions and the judicial system. 

Finland’s main challenges, for their part, concern the need to change consumption and production patterns, climate action, the state of the seas and waters, and supporting other countries in the implementation of the Agenda.

Finland is committed to achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals. This report is an action plan for making that a reality.