Finland has commemorated the opening of its tenure holding the presidency of the EU with a range of events celebrating sustainability in Helsinki.
Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori said: “Helsinki is a forerunner in Europe when it comes to sustainable urban development. During the Finnish Presidency we want to highlight solutions that are not only environmentally friendly and energy efficient, but are also built on the well-being, equality and good routines of the citizens. Over the upcoming six months, the Most Functional City in the World will offer the EU meetings and their delegates a safe, smooth and functional setting as well as attractive urban culture, next-door nature and Finnish experiences.”
Finland, whose slogan for its presidential term is ‘sustainable Europe, sustainable future’, has listed its primary priorities for the duration of the presidency as:
- Strengthening the rule of law and EU-wide common values;
- Improving the EU’s competitiveness as a global market body;
- Improving social inclusiveness throughout the EU;
- Strengthening the EU’s position globally as a leader on climate matters; and
- Comprehensively protecting the EU’s citizens and residents.
Rather than giving gifts to guests at presidential meetings as is tradition, Finland has declared its intention to use its gift budget to offset the emissions produced by flights to meetings. The opening of the six-month presidential term was celebrated with a festival in Helsinki’s Töölönlahti park on Monday 8 July, with events promoting Helsinki sustainability including an eco-café, a facepaint tent using biodegradable glitter and the launch of a sports initiative to be based around Töölönlahti, encouraging residents and visitors to walk for charity.
Mayor Vapaavuori added: “The sports project extends through the Finnish Presidency period. Helsinki invites every resident, visitor and meeting guest to tour the Töölönlahti area, accumulating kilometres on a joint tour around the Earth. If and when we log enough kilometres to circle the Earth – about 40,000km – the City of Helsinki will donate the funds originally earmarked for gifts to meeting participants, a total of €50,000, to Baltic Sea protection.”