Minister Ikonen: Government to launch a new partnership with cities
The Government will strengthen urban policy by forming a strategic alliance with Finland’s largest cities. Prime Minister Petteri Orpo will chair the alliance while Minister of Local and Regional Government Anna-Kaisa Ikonen will act as vice-chair.
The group will include the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Oulu and Turku. The cooperation group aims to solve challenges facing both the central government and large cities more effectively. Such challenges include the availability of skilled labour and the improving of competences.
“We will transform cooperation between the central government and large cities into a new, more equal partnership. By joining the resources and capabilities of the central government and large cities we can solve the current challenges better and more effectively,” says Minister of Local and Regional Government Anna-Kaisa Ikonen.
The strategic alliance is based on the idea that large cities are the engines of Finland’s economy and innovation. More than half of Finland’s gross domestic product is generated in the six largest cities, and innovations are largely born in cities globally.
“Because large cities benefit the entire Finnish economy and society, it is worthwhile to strengthen them. Moreover, the work done in cities to mitigate climate change and reduce segregation, for example, is key to Finland’s success,” Ikonen adds.
Government to strengthen agreement-based cooperation with all cities
Strategic partnership is one of the contractual means of the Government of Prime Minister Orpo to strengthen cooperation with cities. The Government will continue the ecosystem agreements concluded with 18 university and university consortium cities to support the creation of innovations and the work of cities to generate growth. The land use, housing and transport agreements (MAL agreements) will continue with seven urban regions. In addition, the Government Programme includes a new partnership opportunity based on thematic agreements. The objective is also to evaluate the needs related to thematic agreements in cooperation with cities.
There are also many other entries in the Government Programme to strengthen the work of all Finnish municipalities. One of the most important entries is to support diversification, as the strengths, problems and daily life of Finnish municipalities differ considerably. At the same time, the diversity of municipalities is one of Finland’s strengths, Ikonen says.
“It does not make sense to force Luhanka and Helsinki to be similar. We are creating new ways to support the work of different municipalities. For example, we will start pilots to dismantle unnecessary norms and thereby strengthen the most important work of all municipalities, which is to build a municipality that suits its own character,” she adds.
A secretariat has been appointed to prepare the work and first cooperation themes of the urban alliance. In addition to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Local and Regional Government and cities, the Alliance will also include representatives from other ministries. As the work progresses, ministry experts in given themes will join the work of the alliance.
Cooperation with cities will also continue in the Urban Policy Committee, which will be reappointed soon. The Committee will include 23 cities, representation of regional cities, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and various ministries. The Urban Policy Committee will thereby strengthen the urban policy work as a whole.
Elina Laavi, State Secretary, tel. +358 295 530 556
Katja Palonen, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 295 047 071
Olli Voutilainen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 064 919