Estimated reading time 4 min

Why the future and Sitra needs to be changed?

Finland has held the top spot as the happiest country in the world for almost a decade. That is something to be joyful about. At the same time, many indicators show that Finland has hesitated when it should have been renewing itself. As a result, we are wilting.


Atte Jääskeläinen

President, Sitra


Finland’s economy has not grown for 15 years. We are living longer than before, but the number of children being born is at an all-time low. The world around us is splitting into blocs. Our country’s 1,300-km border with Russia is closed.

We joined NATO to get security. We are working to safeguard the economy by investing billions in research and innovation. At the same time, the tone of societal debate is sharpening just when we need to do better than that.

In this situation, Sitra has decided to renew itself so that we can build a better tomorrow for Finland in a long-term and effective way.

Resources where the need is greatest

Stakeholders give excellent feedback on Sitra’s work. The information we produce is of high quality. We are praised for our courage and for thinking ahead without bowing to taboos.

We have claimed our place among the world’s leading actors: Our foresight is award-winning and internationally leading. In sustainability thinking and practice, we have been global leaders.

So why renew ourselves? Because Sitra cannot stand by while Finland falls behind its Nordic peers in societal development. It is also impossible because promoting economic growth and stable development in Finland is a statutory task of Sitra, which was founded in 1967.

We are now putting economic growth at the heart of our new strategy. Sitra is also returning to the field of innovation actors after years of absence. Nine out of ten of our stakeholders want this. In particular, we are investing in social innovations that will transform Finland on a large scale, because our country must be able to deliver services and use common resources more efficiently.

As a first step, we will tackle four societal challenges. These include economic growth, sustainability transition, democracy and polarisation, data and artificial intelligence. However, we will constantly reflect, at least annually, on where Sitra’s expertise and resources can best be used from Finland’s perspective.

We are putting economic growth at the heart of our new strategy.

How in practice?

The new strategy will increase Sitra’s agility and efficiency, i.e. its ability to tackle new phenomena and issues that are important for Finland.

We will trust in the key developments for Finland, and delve into the undesirable outlooks that require special attention.

Once we have a clearer understanding of the problem, we will work with other actors in society to find solutions.

And when solutions are found, we will be ready to support their deployment, both with our expertise and with a larger financial contribution.

To tackle the most pressing issues facing society, we will channel more resources into foresight work. There is also a huge need for future-oriented knowledge in other parts of society.

Internally, the change means that we are abandoning Sitra’s current organisation and strategic themes. Most of the personnel will be transferred to the new activities to be set up. We constantly evaluate our staff levels, as our work and operations are funded by returns from investments. International activities will separated and will in future mainly seek funding from outside Finland. An increasing share of Sitra’s resources can thus be used to fund social reforms and cooperation. Sitra is therefore making a significant contribution to finding the keys to economic growth for Finland.

The strategy reform has been in preparation since autumn 2023. Staff, hundreds of stakeholder representatives and leaders of international think tanks have all been involved. Sitra’s Board of Directors and Supervisory Board have also had a strong voice. These bodies will continue to play a key role in selecting societal challenges for Sitra to work on.

To tackle the most pressing issues facing our society, we will channel more resources into foresight work.

We look far, we act now

Nine-year-old Luukas Mäkelä recently wondered in Helsingin Sanomat’s Children’s Science Questions column why the future needs to be changed. HS contacted Sitra, and our foresight specialist Sanna Rekola answered the question as follows: “Together, we can find visions for the future that are as good as possible for as many people as possible. Together, we can also work to make them a reality.

The idea of working together is also at the heart of Sitra’s new strategy. I want a renewed Sitra to listen better. I also want Sitra to be seen more as a partner in Finland’s renewal.

Only by doing things together can we change Finland for the better. In previous difficult situations, we have been able to do this. You have to look far into the future, but you have to do it here and now.

What's this about?