The City Council accepted the new City Strategy for 2030 in May 2018. Its vision “Lahti – Bold Environmental City” emphasises the critically important role of environment on the growth policy and development of Lahti. Three transformation lines (Vitality, Renewal, Communality) guide the delivery (Fig A1).
The strategy vision and goals have been incorporated into the Lahti City Group budgets and more detailed plans.
• Lahti has developed a cyclic, continuous master plan process (Fig. A2), which is monitored using 20 ecological, social and economic measures.
• The Environmental Program (2018) and more detailed management plans support the delivery of the key environmental commitments outlined in the strategy.
• 5 annual city strategy related lighthouse projects are closed as part of the budget negotiations.
• Unicef’s Child-friendly City status was given to Lahti in 2015 and 2018.
• In 2015, Lahti won the Finnish WWF Earth Hour City Challenge.
• Schools and kindergartens use sustainable development indicators.
• The Procurement Programme (2018) promotes green public procurement.
The city strategy sets targets for year 2030. The aim is to grow into a “Bold Environmental city”, an international university city that solves the challenges of the future. New processes are developed flexibly by experimenting. City of Lahti aims to cut 70% of the CO2 emissions by 2030 from 1990. While designing the city strategy, Lahti City Council emphasized the importance of cleantech RDI, wider utilization of local water-knowhow and also nature’s impacts on well-being.
Long-term environmental objectives are governed through Lahti Environmental Program. It aligns the major transition targets of the city: a carbon-free, zero-waste and sustainable city by 2050. The program also provides a more detailed and continuously updated implementation roadmap until 2030.
The annual lighthouse projects, that are part of the city strategy, enable the execution of rapid strategic changes. The evolution of the lighthouse projects is a bottom-up process: the employees suggest project ideas for the city’s governmental board. The board chooses 5 best ones for implementation. Currently the city is designing its first SUMP (integrated with master plan). Therefore the mobility changes of urban area are also well presented in the 2019 Strategy Lighthouse project portfolio.
We have launched a new, for companies targeted co-creation platform (Smart Lahti), where the cleantech solutions from our region will be showcased.
There are several Smart City projects in Lahti that provide interesting innovation platforms for companies and students. For instance, a project piloting smart lightning is currently in the construction phase (Fig. A3).
We received funding from UIA 2nd Call (2018-2020) for the CitiCAP project 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.
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 transformation in centralized energy production with the aim to give up on coal by 2020 (Fig. A4).
Figure A4. Lahti Energy’s Kymijärvi II power plant is an important element in the green shift of local energy production.
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 in a city-wide scale (e.g. sustainability and environmental education).
Annual environmental budget is allocated to different city departments. In 2017 the overall environmental expenses of Lahti City were 3.6M€ and Lahti Group (incl. municipality owned companies) 39.7M€.
Achievements of the environmental strategy are monitored using strategic indicators. The results are reported together with the annual financial statement (Fig. B2). Leadership networks have their own reporting periods (e.g. Energy Agreement annually, CoM every second year etc.). Operational level reporting is performed continuously in dedicated Boards and Committees (Fig. B1). The City Strategy (Fig. A1) and its annual lighthouse projects build upon cross-sectoral governance with dedicated Steering Groups for the three transformation programmes.
Lahti has been implementing the National Environmental Policy and Local Environmental Plans since 1996. The Environmental Workgroup (incl. representatives of the Lahti City Group) is responsible for reviewing the environmental management system.
City of Lahti is a member of Finnish Sustainable Communities network (FISU) that brings residents, companies and organizations together to discuss and decide on measures to achieve carbon neutrality, zero waste and sustainable consumption goals. Lahti Region was the first Finnish region to design and execute a Regional Roadmap for Circular Economy.
We audit our work with regular self-evaluation (tool for departments) and citywide audits. For example, in 2015, Technical and Environmental Services conducted an audit of the processing of stormwater issues within the city organization.
In Finland the municipalities have the mandate to regulate some sectors and decide on environmental permits, and to control smaller facilities. Municipalities are also in charge of building controls and environmental health inspections.
In 2014 and 2016, all urban natural areas used in early childhood education 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 to instruct 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. B3).
City of Lahti is the first city in the world to have the WWF Green Office Environmental Management System in place in a city-wide scale. Environmental aspects are already a major consideration in 70% of the centralised procurement decisions (2016). Examples of GPP:
• Lahti Energy Ltd. investments on renewable energy production (11M€ in 2013, 20M€ in 2015-2018, 160 M€ in 2017-2020).
• In 2012, Lahti Housing Ltd. constructed three low-energy multi-unit houses. In 2013, a near zero energy multi-unit house was built. In 2017, new houses were taken to Green Bond scheme of MuniFin.
• 7 electric cars, 35 biogas cars and a few electric bicycles for the personnel.
• Lahti Ateria Ltd. (municipal catering service): new vegetarian dishes and an increased share of organic foods.
Both the city vision “Bold Environmental City” and the strategy were developed in close collaboration between City Council of Lahti, students and youth, entrepreneurs of the region, local residental assosiations and other interest groups. Feedback was gathered using variety of methods (Fig. C1; C2). Lahti personnel was immediately engaged to design the lighthouse strategy projects for 2019 as part of the city strategy implementation.
Our Youth Council, Elderly Council and Disability Council are active. For example, the Youth Council reviews and comments our plans, and drafts a youth project list for the city government every other spring.
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. These groups act as mediators between the city organisation and citizens.
In 2018, we celebrated Regional Environmental Week for the 22nd time together with different residental groups with the SUMP theme “Change the world by moving” (Fig. C3).
We organise resident evenings for many reasons. During the spring 2018, a series of “My Lahti” resident evenings were arranged to discuss the master plan and SUMP targets at the local level. Approximately 300 residents participated to workshops and 570 residents gave feedback through the Maptionnaire tool.
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 shall 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 for companies is their commitment to finding solutions for reducing CO2 emissions and enhancing a circular economy.
• Since 2015: Climate Partnerships with companies and organizations. The City of Lahti challenges companies to lower their CO2 emissions. The current emissions of the company are calculated and based on the results the company makes climate commitments. (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 launched a new internet platform, Lahti Smart & Clean, in Nov. 2017, to enhance and improve co-creation between the city and companies.
Co-operation and Learning
We are participating in the national FISU (Finnish Sustainable Municipalities) network. The network has shared long-term sustainability goals: carbon-neutrality by at least 2050, zero waste by 2050 and responsible consumption. These long-term goals are further broken down into manageable targets for 2021 and 2030, which are governed by the Environmental Programme of Lahti 2017-2030.
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.
International co-operation networks:
• Union of Baltic Cities (UBC) since the 1990s.
• UBC SCC Advisory Board (2016-2018).
• Sustainable Towns and Cities and Resilient Cities (ICLEI), since the 1990s.
• Local Agenda (1993-1996).
• Cooperation with Saint Petersburg since 1995.
• Aalborg Charter 1996, Aalborg Commitments 2007.
• Covenant of Mayors since 2012.
• Active cooperation with nordic twin towns: Nordic Climate Declaration 2012, seminars on climate issues.
• Sustainability co-operation with Wuxi, China since 2010 and Japan since 2016.
• EGCN since 2017.
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 (2010-2012).
• EU Cities Climate Adapt (2012 -2013).
• BIOREGIO, EU Interreg (2017-2021) (LUAS, lead)
• CitiCAP, EU UIA (2018-2020) (LAHTI, lead)
• Over 10 years of North-South cooperation with Rustenburg and Madibeng, South Africa and Ho, Ghana.
Participation to EGCA2021 Bid
Our EGCA campaign is an open innovation process. We have completely opened the previous application (EGCA2020)  and encouraged residents, universities, NGO’s and other cities to utilise and develop it further.
For the current EGCA2021 Bid, a special emphasis will be on the citizen and company participation. We are planning to organise the year with premilinary idea of “My Carbon Neutral Life 2021”, providing a city-wide testbed for carbon neutral lifestyle innovations and services supporting it (Fig. C4). Lahti is the first city in the world implementing a personal carbon trading scheme from 2019.