ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network committed to sustainable urban development.
Turku is an active member of the ICLEI network, and it has showed initiative in particular in anticipating and preparing for climate change and creating solutions for circular economy. The network consists of approximately 2,000 local and regional governments. In Finland, 14 municipalities and the Association of Finnish Municipalities are members of the network.
“In recent years, we have elevated the level of our ambition when it comes to our work in sustainable development and Turku’s international impact. Turku is a pioneer in sustainable development, and our joint work is widely recognised. Our work is also the reason behind this leadership position in ICLEI,” says Mayor of Turku Minna Arve.
Turku is implementing a strong climate policy and aims to become a carbon neutral region by 2029. Turku has already halved its GHG emission levels since 1990. In addition, the regional economy has grown, and new low-carbon solutions and circular economy have generated new competence, competitiveness and jobs.
Turku has repeatedly (2019 and 2020) been recognised on the CDP leadership A list which is the highest classification rewarded to the best climate cities in an evaluation conducted by the organisation CDP. The European Commission evaluated Turku and awarded it as the best mid-sized climate city in Europe this year. In 2020, Turku was one of the first in the world to carry out an evaluation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals on a local level. The activities of the City of Turku were reviewed through all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
“Turku implements and promotes ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development. We also want to demonstrate that sustainable development means in concrete terms a better and smoother everyday life,” says Arve.
ICLEI highlights the importance of cities and local governments
The role of cities in solving climate change and promoting a sustainable way of living is extremely important. Local governments can directly support their residents’ opportunities for leading a good life sustainably. As the world’s population is concentrated in cities, the majority of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions come from urban areas.
“Urban areas are crucial in winning the fight against climate change, and it is sensible for the cities to make decisions together. Cities are agile actors that also have the ability to challenge states to succeed even better. We have actively built cooperation, and Turku’s international role will only become more prominent in the future,” Arve says.
The ICLEI global network emphasises the cities’ responsibility in developing sustainable solutions and challenges states and other global organisations to participate in setting common targets. ICLEI represents cities and regions in the UN’s climate, environment and sustainable development processes and develops sustainable solutions in cooperation with its members and partners on all continents.
ICLEI supports Turku’s goals
ICLEI urges its member cities to set and implement strong climate targets, anticipate climate change and develop circular economy and nature-based solutions while incorporating social equity into the development. In particular, Turku benefits from the cooperation with ICLEI in relation to implementing its climate plan and developing circular economy.
“Turku’s Climate Plan 2029 includes both mitigating and anticipating climate change. Circular economy is a means to strengthen low-carbon business operations and sustainable economy. We are currently working on a roadmap of circular economy together with Sitra and our local operators. ICLEI has provided us with examples and lessons on circular economy, in particular from cities in East Asia and global expert networks,” says Acting Climate Policy Manager Risto Veivo.
The mayors of Turku Minna Arve and Aleksi Randell, as well as the Chairperson of the City Council Elina Rantanen and Acting Climate Policy Manager Risto Veivo have actively attended the UN Climate Conferences between 2015 and 2020 and spoken on several occasions in the events arranged and coordinated by ICLEI.
Mayor Arve spoke in the plenary at the Chile/Madrid COP25 conference on 11 December 2019 on behalf of ICLEI members and encouraged cities all over the world to set binding targets to become carbon neutral and states to better acknowledge their cities’ actions.
Over 500 of ICLEI’s member cities have set a binding target to become carbon neutral by 2050 or even earlier. Turku’s objective is to be carbon neutral by 2029 and climate positive thereafter. The city’s successful measures have also played their role in encouraging other cities to set strong climate targets.