Expert Panel on Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is fundamental to all decision-making in society. However, we often lack the ability to apply it to our everyday life and grasp the opportunities it provides. The expert panel started its work hosted by Sitra to help make the voice of science better heard.


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Solutions that respect the ecological boundaries while also providing economically and socially sustainable solutions are important in sustainable development. Neither society nor the economy can function in a polluted environment.

Positive results have been achieved when support from expert panels has been used in political decision-making, in Germany for example. An expert panel consisting of prominent names can even raise its voice, if necessary. The Expert Panel on Sustainable Development was hosted by Sitra from 2013 to 2018 and continues its work under the supervision of Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). The panel supports and challenges the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development. It puts sustainable development into practice and brings the scientific viewpoints on sustainable development to the discussions in society.

What did we do?

The Expert Panel on Sustainable Development was founded in December 2013 to bring scientific points of view to Finnish politics. Its’ task was to allow the voices of academic and internationally renowned experts to be better heard.

The panel contributed to the public discourse and supports the Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development. Its task is to prepare, challenge and evaluate the commission’s work and promote sustainable development in Finland. The panel could hold a round-table discussion on any topic related to sustainability. It convened about six times a year.

Who participated?

The members of the panel were:

Sitra’s co-ordination of the expert panel was led by Eeva Hellström.

What have we achieved?

Sustainable development is decisions and action. This is also the basic premise of The Finland we want by 2050 – Society’s commitment to sustainable development that creates a long-term framework for sustainable development in Finland. Commitment 2050 is a Finnish social innovation that has attracted a lot of attention both in Finland and abroad.

In the beginning of 2016, the expert panel organised a workshop for the newly appointed Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development to update the Commitment 2050. The workshop also aimed at providing an example on how the commission could update its working methods through co-creation and dialogue.

The panel has also supported the commission to plan the implementation of the UN’s Agenda 2030, published in September 2015. In October 2016, our panel provided the Finnish Government with five focus areas as spearheads for the implementation of Agenda 2030. The focus areas are based on the decoupling of economic growth from environmental hazards and perceived well-being. The Government published its implementation plan in January 2017.

The panel has also conducted an active dialogue with other sustainable development panels and organised, for example, an international seminar together with the parliament’s Committee for the Future in summer 2016.

In autumn 2016, we investigated how different countries organise scientific support for their sustainable development policy. According to the report compiled by Roope Kaaronen, the model used in Finland is a combination of many models and one of its strengths is that it provides independent support for political decision-makers.

What next?

The Expert Panel on Sustainable Development lives on, and from January 2019 it is hosted by Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). The panel continues to support and challenge the commission’s work and take part in public discussion. It looks for more efficient ways to bring scientific research even closer to decision-making in society.


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