"In a Nordic welfare state, the economy is managed for the people, not the other way round"

1 Introduction

Climate change, globalisation, urbanisation, the ageing of the population and technological development are all transforming Finland and the world perhaps faster than ever before. This transformation offers great opportunities for the development of our country, but it also creates insecurity and concerns about what lies ahead. In the midst of this transformation, we need policy measures that offer people a sense of security and hope for a better future.

Uncertainties in the workplace and in business activities, concerns about the fate of the globe and how our children will live, and growing tensions between people with different backgrounds have created an unsettled atmosphere in society.

We no longer live and think in the same way as before, nor do we have to. However, finding solutions in our changing world means we must be prepared to narrow any divisions we have. Finland must find a common course of action. This Government pledges to do everything possible to achieve this.

The fundamentals in our society are firmly in place. In recent years, we have seen strong positive trends in the economy and employment. Our Nordic welfare society is a sustainable, fair and just model that enables us to respond to future challenges. Income security, well-functioning health and social services and solid education lay a foundation that guarantees all people equal opportunities to pursue their dreams.

However, the changing world and future challenges mean we must reform and further strengthen the Nordic model as we enter the 2020s. Our aim is to transform Finland into a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society by 2030. In a Nordic welfare state, the economy is managed for the people, not the other way round.

Social sustainability means we take responsibility for each other and our common future; there is equality between people, and this is felt to be fair and just. A high standard of health and social services creates wellbeing – and a sense of trust that we will all be looked after when we are no longer able to do this ourselves. We will build a Finland that is child-friendly, a country where families and their opportunities to

make choices are supported and where parents contribute equally to caring for their children. Not a single young person should be at risk of exclusion, and not a single senior citizen should be afraid of getting old. A socially sustainable welfare state pays attention to the participation of people with disabilities and the opportunity for them to lead an independent life, receive an education and be part of working life. We want to make sure that everyone is on board.

In the 2020s, wellbeing and prosperity will continue to be based on knowledge and skills and on work and entrepreneurship. Amid the transformation of working life, strong basic skills and people's ability and potential to learn new things and update their competences throughout their lives and careers are of key importance. We aim to have the best working life in the world; to be a nation with happy and competent professionals and experts, where every individual’s knowledge and skills are put to good use.

New jobs are being created especially in small and medium-sized enterprises. We are aiming for an even more business-friendly and competitive Finland where companies have good conditions to succeed, hiring staff is easy and taxation offers incentives to work and do business. Decision-making by public authorities is flexible and makes it easier to do business.

Trust among individuals and also among different players in society is a key condition for building a socially sustainable society. Fair rules in working life and a culture of reaching agreements help to secure the position and livelihood of employees. This also guarantees a stable, encouraging and predictable environment for companies, which in turn makes it possible for them to make new investments and create new jobs.

Social sustainability also means taking care of the whole country and ensuring that Finland develops equitably. We want people to have a genuine opportunity to build their own life paths regardless of where they live. This means well-functioning infrastructure, smooth transport connections, jobs, opportunities for education, training and entrepreneurship and access to welfare services in all parts of the country. It is important to ensure that agriculture can be practised in a way that is sustainable and profitable in all of Finland.

A dynamic, thriving and socially strong Finland will be built on the combined successes of the Greater Helsinki region, growing city regions, sub-regions and rural areas alike.

Towns and cities are highly significant for Finland’s vitality. As rapid urbanisation continues, fast-growing urban areas play a key role in promoting sustainable growth and employment, combating climate change and preventing exclusion.

Sustainable economic growth draws not only on a higher employment rate but also on more robust work productivity. Our success depends on our ability to take advantage of the opportunities offered by change and to further develop the strengths we already have. We must keep Finland’s level of education and competence at the top of the world league.

Public and private research, development and innovation activities must be placed on an upward path in order to create new growth and find solutions to global megatrends. In addition to the traditional sectors where we have been successful, emerging areas, such as carbon neutrality, ecological investments, cleantech, the bioeconomy and circular economy and scarcity of raw materials, can create new growth stories in Finland’s manufacturing industry, the building blocks for our wellbeing and prosperity.

The economy thrives when society and businesses invest in the sources of growth. A highly educated, skilled population, a research-oriented and enterprise-friendly atmosphere and open-minded use of new technologies will be the key to success in the 2020s. We must work to secure these in future as well.

The Nordic welfare model, combined with responsible and reduced use of natural resources, is a model that will guarantee the future competitiveness of our country. We are drawing a roadmap for an emissions-free Finland. It will guarantee the right to a viable environment and sustainable economy for the young generations.

The world of the 2020s needs trailblazers. An ecologically sustainable Finland will show the way in mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity. Taking the lead, Finland can play a bigger role than the size of the nation would suggest in finding solutions to humanity's common challenge. This will open new doors for Finnish research, competence, innovation and businesses. We must make sure that our use of natural resources is proportionate to the goals of sustainable development. Our solutions in the manufacturing industry and forestry and agriculture will serve as an example for others. Finland’s forests and their sustainable use are an important part of the work to combat climate change, not the source of problems.

Finland can also be globally influential if we do our part to strengthen rules-based international cooperation. Everyone must adhere to the decisions made together. The commitment to limiting the rise in the global average temperature is particularly important. We aim for peace, respect for human rights and cooperation between states, both near and far.

Finland is an open, international country. As a western democracy, Finland promotes the rule of law and human rights. Thanks to our two national languages, Finnish and Swedish, Finland is a strong part of the Nordic countries. Finland is a constructive player that is ready to take the initiative in the European Union and in international communities.

Being in the middle of changes is not always easy, and we know that we will also face difficulties. We can succeed when we all take part in the transformation and in meeting the objectives.