• Government sustainability reporting to be harmonised

    Finland is committed to implementing the United Nations (UN) Agenda2030 action plan both in Finland and in international co-operation. For this reason, the UN Sustainable Development Goals also provide a natural frame of reference for accountability reporting. The State Treasury is currently developing a reporting framework based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through which ministries, agencies and institutions can report on sustainability.

    The State Treasury instructs to start sustainability reporting by identifying 3–5 UN sustainable development goals, the achievement of which can be most significantly contributed by our own activities. Reporting on the work to be done towards these goals will be at the heart of government accountability reporting.

    Ministries, agencies and institutions are instructed to familiarize themselves

    • Finland ‘s current national priorities for sustainable development and
    • identify the role and influence of one’s own organization in promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    The Sustainability Report is a tool to highlight the impact of work in ministries, agencies and institutions on resolving sustainability challenges and global issues. The purpose of the Making resposibility visible project is to harmonize state sustainability reporting. The long-term goal is to make sustainability reporting a certain part of the annual reporting of the activities of ministries and government agencies and institutions. In the short term, the State Treasury is moving towards this goal by providing accounting units with two guidelines on accountability reporting; the first in November 2020 and the second in the summer of 2021.

    The State Treasury instructs ministries, agencies and institutions to focus on accountability in their own activities in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Reporting on responsibility also involves collecting data on the footprint of operations, such as energy consumption and carbon footprint. The State Treasury will develop the most automated reporting model for the footprint of operations during the autumn of 2020 and the spring of 2021. This work will be announced separately.

  • Topical

    In November 2020, the State Treasury published the first guideline on sustainability reporting. The purpose of the guide is to direct ministries, agencies and institutions in preparing for sustainability reporting.

    The State Treasury will hold events on sustainability reporting that will be openly accessible to all the ministries, government agencies and institutions. The events will also feature short expert speeches by individuals working outside the central government who influence responsibility efforts. Next workshops will be hold in April 2021.


  • Contact information

    Didn’t find what you were looking for on the website? Would you like to suggest a topic that you hope will be discussed in a workshop? The central government’s responsibility reporting project is coordinated by Katri and Henni at the State Treasury – you can contact us!

    Inquiries: vastuullisuusraportointi(at)valtiokonttori.fi

    Henni Purtonen
    Communications Specialist
    tel. +358 295 50 2017
    Katri Kanerva
    Financial Administration Specialist
    tel. +358 295 50 3364
  • A responsibility report is a management tool

    According to a report (record no 284/54/2018) by the National Audit Office of Finland (NAOF), sustainable development is present in the budget proposal but has not guided financial planning. The conclusions of the final report (11 May 2019) of the State Treasury’s Making Responsibility Visible pilot project support the NAOF’s recommendations: if the objective is to make sustainable development and questions regarding responsibility guide policy content more clearly, the ministries should more systematically analyse whether their activities are in line with sustainable development.

    Another significant finding with regard to the central government’s responsibility reporting project is that the Sustainable Development Goals are mainly linked to the ministries’ permanent tasks. However, this does not mean that the Sustainable Development Goals are guiding the ministries to operate in a different way to how they otherwise would. The responsibility reporting guidelines prepared by the State Treasury seek to respond to this by providing a clear definition of what responsibility means within the central government.

    The most effective thing for society is what agencies do through their statutory duties and the core activities of their agency. When everyone does what they do best, it results in the greatest possible benefit at the level of society.

    In responsibility reporting, every agency should examine, through the performance of their own statutory duties, what societal and global impacts are caused by their activities. The perspective of a responsibility report on the impacts of the activities of a ministry or agency is thus different from the perspective of an annual report, which also reports on the results and societal impacts of the activities. In other words, the target group of a responsibility report is not automatically the same as that of an annual report.

  • Central Government responsibility reporting was piloted in the spring 2020

    At the initiative of Director General of the State Treasury Timo Laitinen, the Government Finance Administration, Information and Working Life Management division started the Making Responsibility Visible pilot project in January 2020. The pilot’s participants included the National Land Survey of Finland, the Office of the President of the Republic of Finland, the State Treasury and the Finnish Tax Administration. The responsibility reports produced by pilot agencies have allowed the State Treasury to assess the amount and quality of guidelines required. In order to compare responsibility efforts across government agencies and administrative branches, we need to implement a sufficiently harmonised reporting framework that will account for the varying areas of specialisation and operating environments of the relevant organisations.

    The assessment of the central government’s responsibility reporting that was carried out as part of the Making Responsibility Visible pilot project shows that the potential of responsibility is not being fully realised. For example, this is evident in that responsibility is at the core of few agency strategies.

    Although many agencies report on responsibility, either as a separate publication or as part of their annual report, the responsibility linked to the agency’s core activities should be studied in a more analytical way. It would help citizens, companies, third sector operators and investors better monitor risks and impacts linked to other than purely economic operations.

    The responsibility report does not in itself solve sustainable development challenges or global issues. However, it can be a valuable tool that encourages organisations to act and examine how the shift towards a more sustainable society can be promoted in different areas of society. Expanding responsibility reporting at state level also allows Finland to strengthen its pioneering position in responsibility and encourage the European Commission to report on how the EU’s budget or policy contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Social change, responsibility and sustainability

    The core idea of sustainable development is to secure good living conditions for current and future generations. The aim is to find an appropriate balance between human well-being, the economy and the environment. The Commission on Sustainable Development handles the incorporation of national sustainable development goals in the national policy.

    Sustainable development has had an important role in the strategies and programmes of the Finnish Government since 1990. The current government programme aims to mould Finland into a society that follows the principles of social, financial and ecological sustainable development by 2030.

    Well-being through a sustainable economy

    The United Nations (UN) has defined 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that must be achieved by 2030. The efforts to reach the goals is guided by the UN’s Agenda 2030 programme. It emphasises that the methods of implementation are equally important as the goals themselves.

    According to the Agenda 2030 programme, the resolution of global problems requires multifaceted collaboration and partnership between countries, operators and citizens. Active exchanging knowledge and experiences, sharing best practices and ensuring systematic policies are some of the means that can be used to tackle the challenges involved.

    The aim of the sustainable development goals is to make the world a better place for us all. This can be achieved by merging the social, environmental and economic perspectives more efficiently than at present.

  • Responsibility highlighted on the forum and valtiolla.fi website

    During the autumn of 2021, the State Treasury will bring together communication professionals and experts interested in sustainability and sustainable development to share experiences and views and to make the state’s sustainability work more effective.

    Do you want to write a blog about responsibility?

    You can also sign up as a blog writer on the valtiolla.fi website (in Finnish), where responsibility has been highlighted as one of the central government’s development areas in working life. If you do not want to write yourself, you can also submit suggestions for new posts or point out a civil servant who would be interesting to interview.

    To sign up for the communications network and for more information, please contact vastuullisuusraportointi(at)valtiokonttori.fi.

  • The Resource Wise Agency and central gevernment sustainability reporting

    The Resource Wise Agency (Resurssiviisas virasto) network brings together central government operators that are interested in responsibility and sustainable development. The forum serves as a place for sharing experiences and good practices, which can provide agencies with support for the promotion of sustainability and the themes of sustainable development.

    What is the path to carbon neutrality in different sectors of government? What is resource wisdom and sustainable development from the perspective of a public organisation? How is the department’s carbon footprint calculated? The Resource Wise Agency network organises various workshops and events on current sustainable development themes.

    The network also has its own workspace provided by the Senate. The State Treasury’s Kaiku Services maintains the workspace together with Senate Properties. The network was started on the initiative of the #resurssiviisasvirasto and everyone working in public administration organisations is welcome to join the network. If you want to join the network, you can register for Riikka Manninen at riikka.manninen(at)senaatti.fi or Liisa Virolainen at liisa.virolainen(at)valtiokonttori.fi.