Finland

   

Environmental Policies

#5
Key Findings
With a strong record of cooperation on conservation issues, Finland falls into the top ranks internationally (rank 5) with respect to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.6 points since 2014.

Contributions to combating climate change have been modest overall. According to a report released in late 2017, greenhouse-gas emissions had grown by 6% compared to the previous year. The country has focused strongly on water pollution, curbing industrial emissions and cleaning polluted waterways, but farm-produced waterway pollution remains a challenge.

Forest protection has also been a top priority. Efforts to halt a decline in biodiversity have been insufficient, although the government has created networks of protected areas.

The country has engaged in and honors a large number of international environmental agreements, but is rarely a forerunner in creating these regimes. It holds the chair of the Arctic Council from 2017 to 2019, and is promoting implementation of the Paris Agreement and the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Environment

#8

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
8
Finland faces quite specific environmental challenges in terms of climate change and population growth; yet the country’s contribution to larger efforts in combating climate change have to date been fairly modest. Still, after being ranked 18 out of 178 countries in Yale University’s 2014 Environmental Performance Index, Finland ranked first ahead of Iceland, Sweden and Denmark in 2016. However, in 2018 it fell to 10th place. According to a report released in December 2017, Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions grew by 6% from the previous year, amounting to 58.9 million tons of carbon dioxide. Water pollution is a major challenge in Finland. While pollution emissions from large industrial facilities have to a large extent been successfully curbed and polluted lakes and rivers have been cleaned, waterborne nutrient emissions generated by farms remain a pressing problem. According to calculations, some 1,500 lakes are in need of more active restoration measures to combat eutrophication. Finland’s most valuable natural resource is its forests. The overall annual growth rate of trees in the forests exceeds the total timber harvest, a result of institutionalized protections. Separately, efforts to halt an ongoing decline in biodiversity have proved insufficient, though the government has created networks of protected areas. The environment and natural resources are among the responsibilities of 13 centers for economic development, transport and the environment. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy supervises the general administrative work of these centers. Recent research suggests that in environmental matters in which economic factors play a key role there is a trend toward restricting the rights of citizens to be informed about and influence decisions.

Citations:
Jari Lyytimäki, “Environmental Protection in Finland”, http://finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=160041;
“Finland’s Environmental Administration”, http://www.ymparisto.fi/en-US/Finlands_environmental_administration;
http://archive.epi.yale.edu/epi/country-rankings;
Sebastian Frick and Luis Marin Morillas, “Environmental Policies in Finland”, https://prezi.com/x6yy6xidpwaj/environmental-policies-in-finland/;
Siina Raskulla, “Ympäristöperusoikeus politiikkainstrumenttina ja kansalaisoikeutena”, pp. 280-297, Politiikka, 2016,Nr 4.
Statistic Finlnad, https://www.stat.fi/til/khki/

Global Environmental Protection

#3

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
8
International regimes are often sector-specific. The core of each international regime is formed by international regulatory and administrative systems, which are created and implemented through formal agreements. While Finland is certainly committed to observing many multilateral and bilateral environmental agreements concerning climate change and air pollution, Finland is not among the primary agenda-setters with regard to the advancement of international regimes. However, Finland has received ratings ranging from “good” to “satisfying” in international comparisons of environmental-protection standards, such as the Environmental Sustainability Index. Finland is currently chairing the Arctic Council (2017 – 2019), an obligation that has strengthened the international position of the country, especially with regards to questions pertaining to the Arctic region. In operational terms, Finland continues to promote the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has developed guidelines on how to arrange environmentally sustainable meetings, conferences and seminars.

Citations:
Katrina Running, “Examining Environmental Concern in Developed, Transitioning and Developing Countries”, World Values Research 5 (1): 1-25, 2012;
“Exploring Common Solutions - Finlands Chairmanship Program for the Arctic Council 2017-2019”, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2017.
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