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Evaluating the impact of Sitra: well-being accelerator and pioneer of economic change

Sitra has reinforced the assessment of its activities with an external evaluation. The fresh evaluation reports target Sitra's choices and its work as a pioneer of well-being and as a driver of economic change.


Heli Nissinen

Senior Lead, Communications and Public Affairs


The assessment of Sitra’s activities has been strengthened through an external evaluation. The evaluation was carried out this year by Owal Group Oy, 4Front Oy and VTT, who were selected for the task through a public call for bids.

The evaluators note that Sitra has had an important role in both reforming the economy and in the change in thinking on well-being. Sitra’s work is praised especially in the fields of the circular economy and impact investing. As targets for development, the evaluators recommend direct measures to promote the experience of well-being. The evaluators also encourage Sitra to more openly prepare projects and to listen to stakeholders when making decisions.

“The evaluators have identified key issues with Sitra’s impact,” notes Paula Laine, Sitra’s director of foresight, insight, and strategy operations.

“The results confirm our understanding of our work and raise important points for development, whose advancement requires persistent work,” Laine continues.

Driver of change and playmaker in the economy

One of the evaluations focuses on Sitra’s aim “Moving to a regenerative and collaborative economy” (In Finnish: Talous uudistavaksi ja yhteisölliseksi). The evaluation was conducted by 4Front Oy and VTT Oy.

There has been clear development in the examined topic areas. The circular economy, experiments and investments in effectiveness are examples of topics on Sitra’s agenda in which concrete change has taken place at different levels of society. They are also content areas in which Finland has been recognised internationally as a trailblazing country.

Although the issue involves development resulting from the actions of many others, the evaluation finds that Sitra has had an important role to play in economic renewal. It would appear that Sitra has succeeded in identifying suitable “windows” for development in which it can serve as an important driver of change.

The evaluators note that Sitra’s greatest added value emerges from dealing with problems with ambitious goals that are extensive, cross-sectoral and systemic, goals that others are not realistically able to focus on. Targets for development that came up in the evaluation included more open preparation and linking with other ongoing operations, as well as listening to stakeholders when making choices.

More measures to accelerate well-being

This evaluation focuses on Sitra’s aim “Addressing well-being in a holistic way” (In Finnish: Hyvinvointiin tartutaan kokonaisvaltaisesti). The evaluation was conducted by Owal Group Oy.

The evaluators observe that Sitra has promoted overall well-being, especially by creating opportunities for others to operate. Sitra has been a pioneer in the change in thinking on well-being.

However, thinking based on an all-round concept of well-being and the paradigm of political action has not changed significantly, according to the analysis. Research has increased, but expanded understanding on the prerequisites for well-being are not apparent in Finnish welfare policy. Social policy debate on reforming the welfare state has been strongly focused on economic debate.

The issue remains topical and the evaluation does recommend direct action for promoting perceived and psychological well-being. We need to stimulate debate on implementable political action or other measures to simultaneously support the growth of perceived well-being and the economy in an ecologically sustainable manner.

A goal of a sustainable future for Finland

The aim of Sitra’s work for the future is a Finland that is successful as a forerunner of sustainable well-being. By sustainable well-being we mean a good life within the limits set by the planet. This vision is important for Sitra and the of goal of everything it does derives from it.

Our activities are guided by a vision of Finland as a forerunner of sustainable well-being.

For the management and development of our work on effectiveness, we feel that it is important to constantly evaluate how well our activities perform: do we do the right things, at the right time and in an effective manner? For this reason, between 2016 and 2019 we have been strengthening the analysis of our effectiveness through external evaluation. The starting points for the evaluation are Sitra’s shared goals, which guide our activities in the promotion of sustainable well-being. In the evaluations, information has been produced specifically about Sitra’s importance and about the ways to promote changes aimed at achieving these goals.

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