Helsinki aims to be carbon neutral by 2035. The city is currently offering a new service for both local residents and visitors that helps them to make choices to live and enjoy life in the city in a more sustainable way. The restaurants, shops, events and accommodation listed on the MyHelsinki website can be examined based on criteria developed together with Demos Helsinki.
Helsinki has set the aim of bringing down emissions by 60% by 2030 and of reaching carbon neutrality by 2035. This requires great structural changes as well as changes in behaviour among the population.
Demos Helsinki and Helsinki Marketing have created a set of criteria for making sustainable choices for freetime activities and services together with local interest groups and experts. The criteria are presented in full on the MyHelsinki.fi website. In addition, the service also shows which criteria are fulfilled by which service providers.
The criteria emphasise ecological sustainability and combating climate change, but the dimensions of social and cultural sustainability are also taken into account. The criteria have to do with the use of emission-free energy, impacts of mobility, the environmental footprint of food, and social sustainability. Furthermore, the criteria also take into account, for instance, the possibilities of a circular economy, barrier-free accessibility and the prevention of discrimination.
The criteria have to do with the use of emission-free energy, impacts of mobility, the environmental footprint of food, and social sustainability.
“A driving idea in the Think Sustainably service is that it presents sustainability thinking to the masses. On the one hand, the service helps companies and organisations to perform their work more sustainably. On the other hand, it gives residents and visitors the chance to make more sustainable choices”, says Demos Helsinki’s project coordinator Liisa Kolehmmainen.
The companies participating in the service have expressed that the demand for more sustainability and for more sustainable choices is coming most specifically from customers. Companies also use the set of criteria as a checklist to evaluate the sustainability impacts of their operations. Some companies have, for example, started using green electricity as a result of the criteria.
The demand for more sustainability and for more sustainable choices is coming most specifically from customers
“The field of tourism has grown globally and the number of overnight stays in Helsinki grew by eight percent in 2019. The next step is to figure out how this tremendous growth can be directed in a sustainable direction. It would be worthwhile, for instance, to consider how travellers and local residents could make wider use of the sharing economy in the future”, Kolehmainen says.
The sustainability criteria have received plenty of interest in international media as well as among tourism influencers. The cooperation has continued as an impact assessment of the service, and the service will be further developed during 2020.
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Header photo: Tapio Haaja