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Raising the bar in urban policy – urban development measures and instruments need to remain separate

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 3.9.2020 14.31
Press release

Urban development in Finland continues to inadequately address the differences between towns and cities, in comparison with other regions or municipalities. At the same time, the way cities as an object of policy are being developed is too fragmented and continues to focus on administrative sectors and disconnected policy instruments. These were the findings of an unofficial discussion document published on 3 September.

The secretariat of the Urban Policy Committee appointed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment asked a group of researchers to produce an unofficial discussion document to support urban policy development and to fuel public discussion. The purpose of this document is to act as an instigator for urban policy development and to raise questions regarding urban development. Another objective is to encourage new, frank dialogue on the direction and status of urban policy in Finland and on cities as an object of policy. The unofficial discussion document was prepared by Professor Mari Vaattovaara, Professor Anssi Joutsiniemi, Professor Markku Wilenius and university lecturer Jenni Airaksinen.

The document focuses on the cornerstones of urban development:  the conditions for urban policy-making over the longer term, the effects of the increasingly multidimensional  urban development on policy requirements, and the new framework for urban policy development and implementation.

The document contains three propositions and seven steps for urban policy development. The researchers emphasise that urban policy is a separate set of core policies. The relationship between the state and cities must be redefined in order to fully crystallise urban policy. Successful urban policy development requires an ability to create a shared vision of the future society, and new approaches to the roles and responsibilities of the state and cities. This work requires a national perspective and input from the cities. It is important that measures and instruments remain separate if we are to achieve our goals. In conclusion, the researchers point out that we need to raise the bar, and put people and cities centre stage. 

The unofficial discussion document will be used in ongoing processes, such as the development of the national urban strategy and partnership building between the state and cities, and in the implementation of the Regional Cities Programme.

Mari Vaattovaara, Professor, University of Helsinki, tel.  +358 50 415 4861
Jenni Airaksinen, university lecturer, University of Tampere, tel. +358 50 318 2492
Anssi Joutsiniemi, Professor, Aalto University, tel. +358 40 589 6223
Markku Wilenius, Professor, University of Turku, [email protected]
Katja Palonen, Chief Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7071
Suvi Anttila, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment, p. 029 525 0208

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