12. Governance

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12. Governance

12A. Present Situation


Lahti City Stategy

The City Council accepted a new strategy in April 2016. Its vision is “We are internationally successful as a bold environmental city for people and businesses” Environmental commitments include a circular economy, and water and environmental protection. Five transformation programmes support its implementation. The programmes have approximately 30 primary goals. One of the main goals is to become carbon neutral and waste-free, and to curb overconsumption by 2050.

Participation and the Strategy

The vision and the strategy were developed in close collaboration between Lahti and Nastola, after the merging of the two municipalities in 2016. Feedback was requested from residents, advocacy groups and personnel.

The vision and the strategy were developed in close collaboration between Lahti and Nastola, after the merging of the two municipalities in 2016. Feedback was requested from residents, advocacy groups and personnel.

• Numerous meetings with our partners and management teams.
• Expert opinions from the Elderly Council, the Disability Council [3] and the Youth Council.
• Over 1 500 residents responded to our extensive questionnaire in Porukka* (“crowd”), which is a public participation mobile application for Lahti (Fig. A1).
• 43 700 comments on the strategy through Porukka.
• Multiple events with participation opportunities under different city development themes (Fig. A2).
• We actively encourage public participation in our master planning process and in detailed land use planning.
• We have hired a person specifically to improve public participation.

Porukka mobile application

Figure A1. Porukka application has been actively used for increasing public participation.

Participation methods

Figure A2. Participation of different age groups is encouraged by differential methods.

Management, Monitoring and Evaluation

The strategy vision and goals have been incorporated into the budgets and more detailed plans of the Lahti City Group.

  • Lahti has developed a continuous, strategic master plan process with four-year cycles, and the Master Plan is reviewed and followed up during each City Council term. It is monitored using 20 ecological, social and economic measures.
  • To achieve the key environmental commitments of our strategy, we have more detailed plans, such as the 2013-2025 Green Spaces Programme, the Storm Water Management Plan (2012), the Regional Groundwater Protection Plan (2012), the Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025 and the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (2013). Plan implementation and programme monitoring by follow-up groups, ensuring specified schedules, are adhered to.
  • In 2015, Lahti won the Finnish WWF Earth Hour City Challenge, and was among the 16 best in the world, due to our energy investments and concrete solutions.
  • Schools and kindergartens use sustainable development indicators to monitor their progress in environmental issues. All schools have an individual action plan for developing environmental education. We have five Green Flag kindergartens and schools. In these, the children’s participation has been considered especially carefully.
  • The Procurement Programme (2014) promotes green public procurement. Environmental aspects are already a major consideration in 95% of the centralised procurement decisions.

Examples of green public procurement:

  • Lahti Energy Ltd is investing in near 100% renewable energy production (11 M€ in 2013, 20 M€ in 2015-2018, 160 M€ in 2017-2020).
  • In 2012, Lahti Housing Ltd constructed three low-energy multi-unit houses. In 2013, an almost zero energy multi-unit house was built by our senior housing company.
  • 7 electric cars, 35 biogas cars and a few electric bicycles for use by our personnel.
  • Lahti Ateria Ltd (municipal catering service): new vegetarian dishes and an increased share of organic foods.

Strategy achievement is monitored using strategic indicators. Strategy implementation is decided together with the yearly budget and financial plan. Follow-up of strategic indicators is reported together with the annual financial statement (Fig. A3).

City strategy, commitments and practice
Figure A3. City strategy, commitments and practice – reporting at different levels.

Integrated Environmental Management

We have been implementing the national environmental policy and a local environmental plan since 1996. The Environmental Workgroup (incl. representatives of the Lahti City Group) is renewing our environmental management system.

The FISU network brings residents, companies and organizations (e.g. via workshops, interviews and resident questionnaires) together to discuss and decide measures to achieve carbon neutrality, zero waste and responsible consumption goals.

We audit our work with the aid of systematic self-evaluations (used in departments) and citywide audits. For example, in 2015, Technical and Environmental Services audited the processing of storm water issues, within the city organization.

City as an Environmental Authority

In Finland, municipalities can autonomously regulate some sectors and environmental permits, and control of smaller facilities. Municipalities are in charge of building controls and environmental health inspections.

International Cooperations

  • Union of Baltic Cities (UBC), since the 1990s.
  • Active cooperation with environmental commission (UBC).
  • UBC SCC Advisory Board (2016-2017).
  • Sustainable Towns and Cities and Resilient Cities (ICLEI), since the 1990s.
  • Local Agenda (1993-1996).
  • Aalborg Charter 1996, Aalborg Commitments 2007.
  • Covenant of Mayors 2012.
  • Active cooperation with nordic twin towns: Nordic Climate Declaration 2012, seminars on climate issues.

Lahti has been a partner in many international projects since the 1990s. Examples include:

  • Managing Urban Europe 25 (2005-2008).
  • Baltic Eco Region (2008-2012).
  • ICER – Innovative Concept of Eco-Accommodation Approach in Rural Regions: Public Support Policies for Eco-Investors (2010-2012).
  • EU Cities Climate Adapt (2012 -2013).
  • BIOREGIO – Regional circular economy models and best available technologies for biological streams (funding: Interreg Europe, 2016). Lahti University of Applied Sciences is leading the project.
  • Cooperation with Saint Petersburg (several projects).
  • Over 10 years of cooperation with Rustenburg and Madibeng, South Africa and Ho, and Ghana.

Involvement of Residents

Our Youth Council, Elderly Council and Disability Council are active. For example, the Youth Council writes expert opinions for our plans, and drafts a youth project list for the city government every other spring. Representatives of the Youth Council participate in Educational, Mobility and Cultural board meetings.

The City of Lahti has an Environmental Counselling unit. The unit has developed several innovative environmental education methods. We have had “Area Godparents” and “City Officer Godparents” for over 15 years. They serve as messangers or links between decision makers and residents.

In 2017, our Regional Environmental Week was celebrated for the 21st time. It brought together citizens and organizations to organize events, trips and voluntary work. The aim was to urge locals to organize something for the environment and to motivate others to similar actions. We organize a poster competition for Environmental Week annually (Fig. A4).

Environmental WeekFigure 4C. The poster for Environmental Week 2017 was designed by 12-year old Petter Tiainen from Länsiharju School.

12B. Implementation

The City of Lahti has three departments (Fig. B1). The Department of Urban Environment is the smallest. Four boards regulate its operations: the Technical and Environmental Committee, the Building and Environmental Permit Committee, the Regional Public Transportation Committee and the Regional Waste Committee. The department is responsible for land use and regional projects, the urban environment and construction and environmental supervision. The Department of Administrative Affairs is responsible for leading development of environmental issues (e.g. sustainability and environmental education). However, other departments and the Lahti City Group also have responsibilites regarding environmental issues (Fig. B2).

Organisation of City of LahtiFigure B1. Organisational structure of the Lahti Administration 2017.

Governing sustainabilityFigure B2. Governing sustainability for the City of Lahti is done by several departments, organizations and companies in the Lahti City Group and other operators.

Social Media

We are very active on social media, especially Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In 2012, we ran a campaign “Ekokarpaasi” on Facebook and other social media channels. Its aim was to highlight the men behind environmental actions (Fig. B3), as being eco-friendly often has a feminine image. We also had posters on the streets. The campaign’s videos are available on YouTube.

Ekokarpaasi social media campaing

Figure B3. Eco-friendly heroic men in the Lahti City Ekokarpaasi social media campaign in 2012.

Resident Evenings

We arrange resident evenings for many reasons. For example, in autumn 2016, a resident evening was arranged to discuss the new budget, economy and future of Lahti. It was popular with the older age group.

For the Master Plan (western parts only, due to merging with Nastola), four “Our Lahti” resident evenings were arranged.

Child Participation

In 2014 and 2016, all of the urban natural areas used in early childhood education, in the City of Lahti, were mapped using Maptionnaire. All of Lahti’s 59 day-care units responded to the questionnaire and marked down interesting areas or objects. Study findings were incorporated into the city’s GIS system, for use in planning and forest management.

For the Master Plan, a “Dream Playground” event was arranged in 2017. 36 children, 7-10 years old, drew their dream playground, and 10 were interviewed (Fig. B4).

Children evaluate playgrounds

Figure B4. Children evaluate Lahti playgrounds (2017).

Building a City

A city building game helps people envision the process. In September 2016, our youth and politicians gathered to discuss city planning and the future of Lahti (Fig. B5). We have also used the game at other events.

City planning game

Figure B5. The city planning game was played by politicians and local youth, in Sept 2016.

12C. Future Plans

New Strategy in 2018

Although the current strategy was accepted in 2016, it will be updated during winter 2017-2018. The current strategy was drafted after merging with Nastola Municipality in 2016.

Participation of citizens, companies, university departments and the third sector is our strategic value. We want to approach them in a compelling and practical way.

  • We will collaborate with our residents on improving the energy efficiency of buildings, on everyday transportation and sustainable food choices, as well as on developing new services.
  • Our long-term goal is for companies to be committed to finding solutions for reducing CO2 emissions and enhancing a circular economy.
  • 2015- continues: Climate Partnerships with companies and organizations. The City of Lahti challenges companies to lower their CO2 emissions. After surveying a company’s current emissions, the company makes climate commitments and receives a diploma from the Mayor (Fig. C1).
  • The City of Lahti is part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Smart and Clean Foundation, which aims to build a world-class test platform for smart and clean solutions and services. We will open a new Internet platform, Lahti Smart & Clean, in Nov. 2017, to provide more information on co-creation possiblities between Lahti and companies.

Climate Partnership

Figure C1. Representatives of two local companies and Mayor Myllyvirta signing the Climate Partnership, in Sept. 2017.

Lahti Strategy Design Hackathon, “Lahti Lackhaton 2018”

We have a plan to arrange a design and concept hackathon called “Lahti Lackhaton 2018” that deals with the largest transformation challenges faced by cities, set for early 2018. This will hopefully produce clever and new solutions and innovations including, e.g. cutting CO2 emissions, increasing the innovativeness and growth potential of our city and enabling a more sustainable and happy life in Lahti.

Smart Lahti Innovation Platform

We will soon open a new co-creation Smart Lahti platform for companies. This is a site where conducted cleantech references, in our region, will be showcased.

We have several Smart City projects that provide interesting innovation platforms for companies and students. For instance, a smart lighting project is currently in the construction phase, in Lahti (Fig.C2). We received funding from UIA 2nd Call (2017-2020) for the CitiCAP proposal to:

  • Co-create and implement a Personal Carbon Trading (PCT) scheme to reduce traffic emissions.
  • Build a new model for the SUMP process integrating the traffic and spatial master planning processes.
  • Develop a light and replicable mobility data platform to implement the PCT.

Smart lightning project

Figure C2. The Smart Lighting Project is currently in the construction phase at the Lahti Sport Centre and Harbour area. (Fig: Henrika Pihlajaniemi, Unit.Oulu, 2017).

Finnish Sustainable Communities (FISU) and Long-term Sustainability Goals of Lahti

We are participating in the national FISU (Finnish Sustainable Municipalities) network. There, the long-term sustainability goals of FISU network are shared: carbon-neutrality by at least 2050, zero waste by 2050 and responsible consumption. These long-term goals are further broken down into managable targets for 2021 and 2030, which are governed by the Environmental Programme of Lahti 2017-2030 (Table C3).

The university departments and their students have actively participated in forming the FISU targets. Furthermore, the university students have processed the impacts of the urban sustainability transition on the daily lives of the people of Lahti.

Table C3. In the Environmental Programme of Lahti 2017-2030, the city sets sustainability goals for 2021, 2030 and 2050.

Lahti Environmental Programme

Table C3. In the Environmental Programme of Lahti 2017-2030, the city sets sustainability goals for 2021, 2030 and 2050.

Complete Green Shift of Local Energy Production for Lahti

Lahti Energy Ltd (part of the Lahti City Group) has invested in energy efficient and sustainable district heating. The City of Lahti is currently undergoing a complete change in centralized energy production, to replace all fossil fuels with renewable energy, by 2020 (Fig. C4).

Kymijärvi II power plant

Figure C4. Lahti Energy’s Kymijärvi II power plant is an important element in a green shift of local energy production.

New Audit System

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) will be used to audit the entire city organization.



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