Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development, made by the Academy of Finland, addresses sustainability and responsibility and their implementation in a more thorough and systematic manner than previous commitments. A key objective is to systematically incorporate sustainable development into all Academy activities and to tie related measures to the Academy’s annual clock. In June 2022, the Board of the Academy of Finland approved an extended and specified Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development.
The Academy of Finland drafted its first Society’s Commitment for research funding in 2015. At that time, the Academy undertook to take the perspective of sustainable development more closely and consciously into account in its programme activities. In 2018, the Academy expanded its Commitment to include all its research funding activities.
The Academy has three central objectives in its newest Commitment (available in Finnish only):
- To increase and deepen the awareness of researchers, the Academy and its stakeholders with respect to the principles of sustainable development and to emphasise the importance of these principles in research and research funding in a cross-cutting manner
- To more systematically examine the perspectives of sustainable development and responsibility, integrating monitoring with the annual clock of Academy operations
- To use advocacy communications to highlight the importance of research in promoting sustainable development and to strengthen the Academy’s community image as a responsible promoter of the principles of sustainable development.
So far, more than 2,600 Society’s Commitments to Sustainable Development have been made in Finland. The signatories include companies, public administration actors and non-profit organisations. Individual persons have also signed the Commitment.
The Commitment has ambitious goals and significant impacts
The objectives of the Commitment, drawn up in 2018, are still topical. In the projects it funds, the Academy requires that Sustainable Development Goals be taken into account as part of responsible science. Researchers have included Sustainable Development Goals in their research plans since 2019.
According to a report from 2020, researchers have clearly understood the aim of supporting sustainable development, and funded projects have emphasised all three key elements of sustainable development: social, economic and ecological sustainability. Now, the Academy intends to more systematically monitor and measure the setting and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in funded projects. The aim is to determine what kind of information could be collected on funded research projects and what indicators could be used in monitoring the implementation of sustainable development and responsibility. In addition, we hope that researchers will also explain in their final reports how they have succeeded in promoting Sustainable Development Goals. In this respect, we are also closely following the activities of other Nordic funding organisations.
The Academy also wishes to pay more attention to communication about the significance and implementation of sustainable development in the future. This can involve, for example, compiling data collected from research funding applications and research reports and taking sustainable development and responsibility into account regularly in annual reports.
In order to achieve these very ambitious objectives in 3.5 years, more systematic organisation within the Academy is required. One aim is to establish a working group on sustainable development and responsibility, which will be responsible for ensuring that the objectives set in the Commitment are met.
Once the objectives are achieved, the Academy will have taken a great leap on the path of sustainable development. Another good change is that in the future, issues involving responsibility and sustainable development will be addressed together as a whole. It is also important that the implementation of the Commitment is monitored by the Academy and that its direction is specified if necessary. The future working group will have an important responsibility here.
Aiming for global sustainable development
The Commitment of the Academy of Finland will contribute to supporting the global Sustainable Development Goals agreed between UN member states in 2015. These goals will guide sustainable development efforts until 2030. The global agenda for sustainable development, Agenda2030, aims at eliminating extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development where the environment, economy and people are equally taken into account. This also means that the environment, human beings and the economy are equally considered in decision-making and operations.
In Finland, the global action plan aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is implemented through concrete social commitments to sustainable development (Commitment2050 on the Finland we want by 2050). The objectives of this commitment for “the Finland we want by 2050” are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These objectives include: equal prospects for wellbeing; a participatory society for citizens; sustainable work; sustainable local communities; a zero carbon society; a resource-wise economy; life choices that respect nature’s boundaries; and decision-making that respects nature.
The new roadmap to sustainable development (in Finnish) also specifies Finland’s focus areas: Promoting wellbeing through the economy and employment and sustainable consumption; education, competence and sustainable lifestyles; wellbeing, health and social inclusion; a food system promoting wellbeing; forest, water and land use promoting diversity and carbon neutrality; and a sustainable energy system. In the global country comparison for sustainable development, Finland is at the top of the list. We have succeeded particularly in terms of social sustainability. However, there is still a lot to be done in the area of ecological sustainability.