At the moment, Finland is leading the way in Europe in terms of smart city development, using its resources to create new business models and efficient city planning. Start-ups and companies are assisting in this transformation of smart cities, honing in on sectors such as environment, mobility, economy, and living. As a way to tackle urban environmental challenges and share common practices, Finland’s six largest cities—Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu, and Turku—have partnered up to form a platform dubbed “The Six City Strategy.” Below, we’ll take a deeper dive into this platform and how one of these cities, in particular, Turku, is collaborating and emerging as the country’s leading voice for climate change.-Bruno De Man
Finland has made a name for itself developing unique technological solutions that have an enormous impact. Case in point: Helsinki uses a combined heat and power generator to provide heating and cooling for 90 percent of the city’s homes in a single process that requires less fuel than individual operations. This is just one of over 20 projects underway as part of “The Six City Strategy.” Comprising 30 percent of the country’s population, the development and testing of solutions in these six cities allows for a large amount of community participation and feedback. According to a report by Flanders Investment & Trade, “as Finland aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, these cities act as pilots in the transition.” Turku, a city of 182,000 that sits on the southwest coast, aims to become carbon neutral by 2029—one of the most ambitious plans on the globe—with a focus on sustainable energy transition, circular economy, and smart mobility. Thanks to the city’s Climate Plan, more than half of Turku’s energy is produced from renewable sources, and coal is on the way to being phased out by 2025. As for carbon-neutral transport, the city is improving conditions for cycling and walking, while also turning public transport itself into a “completely carbon neutral service.” As Public Transport Director Sirpa Korte explains, “Public transport will be developed to an even better direction, and the whole travel chain will be attached to it in a manner that makes mobility effortless and comfortable. In practice, a carbon neutral, large-capacity public transport system will support both the Climate Objective and the development of the city in a broader sense.”
Solutions for a carbon-neutral city are just one of the impacts of Turku’s involvement in a platform like “The Six Strategy,” as it shares both practices and challenges with other members from Finland in an effort to solve national—and global—issues.