Turku was one of the first cities to carry out an evaluation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through voluntary reporting.

AGENDA 2030 – At the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York on September 2015, the UN member states agreed on common goals that will guide the work regarding sustainable development until the year 2030.

Voluntary Local Review (VLR) – a voluntary reporting mechanism based on national reporting (Voluntary National Review), which evaluates the progress of the Agenda 2030 Action Programme on a local level.

Turku VLR report 2020


Already since the 1990s, Turku has been an active advocate of sustainable development, and acted as a pioneer in carrying out environmental work in cities. In accordance with the current Turku 2029 City Strategy, Turku has committed to act in line with the principles of sustainable development in all its activities. This means that the city aims to reform and grow in ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable ways, thus creating comprehensive and sustainable welfare for its residents.

In many respects, the current Turku 2029 City Strategy supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the city. Turku aims to be carbon neutral by 2029 and a pioneer in socially sustainable urban and regional development.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Turku

Following the decision by Mayor Minna Arve, Turku was one of the first to carry out an evaluation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through voluntary reporting. The Voluntary Local Review process resulted in a evaluation report on sustainable development in Turku, which was endorsed by the Turku City Council in its meeting in June 2020.

The VLR report includes a review of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their targets that were considered applicable on a local level. The first review process focused on examining the Turku 2029 City Strategy and the spearhead projects implementing it, as well as the key operations of the City’s five divisions and selected strategic entities.

The goal was to examine the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals in the city and particularly to locate the areas that need improvement. In addition, the evaluation report, also helps to increase residents’ and interest groups’ awareness of the 2030 Agenda and the work the City is doing to achieve its goals.

– The cities of the world are of particular significance when it comes to putting sustainable development into practice. With this evaluation procedure, Turku makes visible the ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable work that is done in the city, which ensures that Turku is a good place to live in the future as well, says Mayor Minna Arve.
With this report, we have been able to depict the starting point of the city as well as the fields of improvement in the context of sustainable development. This is a good place to continue towards a more sustainable future together with the City of Turku stakeholders.

Participating in the evaluation is a big leap for Turku towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and a step towards the fulfilment of Agenda 2030 on a local level.

Results of the Evaluation Were Discussed During the Online Event Sustainable Development in Espoo and Turku

The Cities of Espoo and Turku both compiled their first VLR Reports in the spring of 2020. The reports contain extensive overviews of how and which Sustainable Development Goals and targets have been considered, and how the city can improve the environment of their residents as well as the sustainable development of economic life in the future.

During the online event on 16 June 2020, the cities of Espoo and Turku, represented by Mayor Minna Arve of the City of Turku and Mayor Jukka Mäkelä of the City of Espoo, talked about the evaluation process and respective results concerning the Agenda 2030 Action Programme and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The event was moderated by leading expert Sami Pirkkala from the Prime Minister’s Office.

– Many climate goals are such that they must be achieved regionally, even if they concern the whole world. We want to be an inspiration to cities both in Finland and in the world, says Mayor Arve.

A comment on the topic “Sustainable Development and the Attraction of Cities” was also presented by Ville Skinnari, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development.
Additionally, presentations were held by Sara Nyman (representative of the Finnish Agenda 2030 Youth Group in Turku), Maria Pelkonen, and Eero Iso-Tryykäri (City of Espoo) on the topic “Finnish Agenda 2030 Youth Group and Cities”.

– Sustainable cities are built so that also future generations can see the spring arrive. The city is not to live only in the present, but instead it must take into account what it leaves behind, Sara Nyman emphasized on the perspective of the youth.

Download the city's first report on sustainable development here:

  • Turku VLR-report – The implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Turku 2020