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EU funding for Finnish resource wisdom

Local authority projects across Finland could benefit from EU funding which supports Sitra's efforts to improve resource wisdom...

Kuvaaja: Heikki Tuuli

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The EU’s financial instrument LIFE provides local authorities in Finland with new opportunities to launch major projects to improve resource efficiency.

Sirpa Pietikäinen: “Here in Finland, public funding is misused far too often in an effort to make cost savings by making inexpensive, low-quality purchases that are detrimental to the environment. Procurement strategies implemented by municipalities need to be rewritten: they should be resource efficient, innovative and in line with the principles of sustainable development.”

Local authorities in Finland will soon have the opportunity to develop resource-wise solutions with the aid of an EU financial instrument, LIFE. One of its priority areas under the new “Environment” sub-programme is resource efficiency. “This is a major development: a new category of jointly funded integrated projects under LIFE allows undertakings to receive up to 15-20 million euros in funding, covering 60% of the total cost. The undertakings can be 100% national, and Finland is in a good position to receive funding. The early bird catches the worm,” says Ministry of the Environment’s Research Director Laura Höijer, who gave a presentation on the new funding solution at Sitra’s Towards resource wisdom forum on Wednesday 4 December 2013.

Resource wisdom is one of the EU’s key themes. In 2014, a working group led by the European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik will publish the long-term legislative measures and policy changes focusing on the EU’s resource efficiency.

“The main emphasis of the updated Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe is on issues that generate the biggest impact: transport, buildings and food production,” says MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, the only Finnish member of the working group on resource efficiency. “For example, instead of employment taxes, the focus of the tax authorities should be on resource use and environmentally harmful activities. The life cycle approach is gaining ground, with the shift towards waste prevention in production processes and banning the introduction of virgin natural resources to production chains where the same resources can be obtained through recovery.”

According to Pietikäinen, moving towards resource wisdom is Europe’s lifeline, because the Earth’s natural resources that are critical for human survival are running out, and we have exceeded the limits set for our planet’s capacity relating to climate change, biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle.

“We have to find a way to reach the same level of well-being with a tenth of the resources we are currently using,” she says. “Here in Finland, public funding is misused far too often in an effort to make cost savings by making inexpensive, low-quality purchases that are detrimental to the environment. Procurement strategies implemented by municipalities need to be rewritten: they should be resource efficient, innovative and in line with the principles of sustainable development. Purchasing is a major accelerating factor, since 20 per cent of Finland’s GDP comes from public procurement.”

Sitra’s Towards resource wisdom forum, held on Wednesday 4 December 2013, gathered nearly 400 municipal decision-makers, entrepreneurs and others with an interest in resource efficiency.

“In Germany, for example, the consumption of natural resources has slowed down despite continued economic growth. Our huge task is to implement the same here in Finland, an energy transition. This is Sitra’s mission. Resource wisdom is creating a buzz around the world, but this is the very first forum of its kind organised in Finland. We are only beginning to grasp the fact that the economy, business and well-being are all included in this – we are talking about the future of Finland here,” says Sitra Director Jukka Noponen.

Sitra is currently developing Finland’s first ever resource-wise city in Jyväskylä, as part of the search for resource-efficient practices for businesses and the public sector using experiments and projects.

Further information and materials are available on Sitra’s website under Events (in Finnish).

Topic

Resource wisdom

The decrease in natural resources, population growth and climate change is forcing global societies to become more efficient and cut emissions. Wiser use of resources is now an asset in international competition.

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