Having completed its Sustainable Development Report in June, Helsinki is handing it over to the UN at the follow-up conference on 18 July, as the first European city. Mayor Jan Vapaavuori will speak to the UN on the occasion.

The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development – HLPF is held in New York on 9–19 July 2019. The UN’s most important conference on sustainable development, the HLPF assesses global progress towards the goals stated in the Agenda 2030 action programme for sustainable development. Kicked off in 2015, the Agenda 2030 action programme aims at eradication of extreme poverty and at sustainable development taking environment, economy and people equally into account.

In September 2018, Helsinki voluntarily committed itself to reporting to the UN about its own implementation of the sustainable development goals, as the second city in the world, second only to New York. The report “From Agenda to Action – The Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki 2019” now to be handed over was completed in June 2019. The findings of the report show that the goals in Helsinki’s latest City Strategy match the UN sustainable development goals very well. Furthermore, Helsinki has already carried out or is in the process of carrying out many measures that promote the UN goals. The findings of the report will also be used to support the planning of the city’s actions in future.

Mayor Vapaavuori will make his address at a session around the theme of developing the role of the High Level Political Forum so as to make it an even more efficient monitor of Agenda 2030 implementation when the first four-year cycle ends. In addition, Mayor Vapaavuori will speak at four related events, one of which is organised by the City of Helsinki together with the City of New York and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN. Helsinki and New York have been cooperating closely throughout the process, and they encourage other cities to engage into voluntary implementation reporting.

“The influence of cities in the world is constantly growing, owing to factors such as urbanisation and the urban nature of global challenges. Cities are increasingly joining ranks with states to solve global problems. The most important, concrete work with Agenda 2030 is done at local level – near people. Helsinki actively cooperates with other cities to ensure that the role of cities as influencers is acknowledged in key international forums and networks. In future, an important forum for cooperation between states and cities could be the implementation of the UN goals for sustainable development”, Mayor Vapaavuori concludes.

Themes emphasised by Finland in the forum include education, competence and future-skills, and their links to sustainable development. The delegation, headed by Minister of Education Li Andersson, includes representatives of the City of Helsinki, several ministries, the local Agenda 2030 youth organisation as well as civic organisations and business. During the forum, Finland hosts two related events and organises, in its fresh capacity of President of the Council of the European Union, and together with the EU, the first event within the UN framework that presents the EU’s work on the Agenda 2030.