Innovative local action to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals was the focus of today’s ENVE Commission seminar in Espoo, Finland, hosted by Sirpa Hertell (EPP/FI), City Councillor of Espoo in the presence of Markku Markkula, 1st Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) andChair of Espoo City Board(EPP/FI) and ENVE members from across Europe.

 The aim of the seminar was to share the experiences of Espoo and other cities and to reflect on the main barriers and enablers that allow cities to fight against climate change and implement the SDGs locally. The outcomes of the event will feed the CoR roadmap towards COP25.

“As regions and cities are responsible for implementing around 65% of the SDGs, they should be involved in designing climate policy, and they must be real partners in the implementation of the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, as well as the 2050 strategy”, believes Hertell, who is the CoR’s ENVE rapporteur on the climate aspects of SDGs.

Climate policy is one of the priorities of the Finnish presidency of the EU Council, which takes place from July until December 2019. Finland is a frontrunner in Europe in the implementation of SDGs at city level, and the city of Espoo is a pioneer of sustainable development via the UN 25+5 SDG Cities Leadership Platform. Espoo’s innovative solutions have also won the city the Energy Globe World Award 2019.

“We implement the Sustainable Development Goals through collaboration, participatory methods and ambitious goals. We are broad-minded, creative and challenge the status quo”, Markku Markkula described Espoo’s actions, inviting other cities to cooperate, to exchange best practices and to learn from each other.

Calling for an EU strategy for the SDGs, CoR’s rapporteur on Sustainable Europe 2030, Arnoldas Abramavicius (EPP/LT) underlined the need for better governance and adequate financial resources for implementing the SDGs locally:“Climate mainstreaming in the next EU multiannual financial framework is a good start”. His municipality of Zarasai is implementing many projects related to energy efficiency refurbishing old houses to save energy as well as money.

The seminar is followed by a study visit to the clean-energy company Fortum that has co-developed with Espoo a series of sustainable solutions in electricity, heating and cooling.

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