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Sustainability within the government: what guidelines will be issued for reporting?

Sustainability reporting is being harmonised within the central government on a step-by-step basis. The first guidelines on sustainability reporting will be published in November 2020. The State Treasury will instruct accounting units to assess the efficiency of their activities from the perspective of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN).

In the first phase of sustainability reporting, ministries, government agencies and institutions should identify which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are most important in terms of their own activities. The accounting units will be instructed to become acquainted with Finland’s current national priorities for sustainable development and to identify the role and influence of their own organisation in promoting the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Sustainability Report is a tool to highlight the impact that work done in ministries, government agencies and institutions has on resolving sustainability challenges and global issues Sustainability reporting also brings together information on, for example, procurement, energy consumption and the carbon footprint at the state level. The reporting model will be developed at the State Treasury during the autumn of 2020.

Towards harmonised reporting practices

The first guidelines on sustainability reporting issued by the State Treasury will provide the foundation for more extensive and harmonised reporting, the development of which will continue at the State Treasury. The work is being done inclusively in cooperation with Gaia Consulting Oy and a sustainability working group that includes representatives of ministries, government agencies and institutions. The more extensive guidelines to be published later will focus on providing concrete instructions for reporting. All accounting units will have the chance to comment on the draft guidelines prior to their publication.

Finland is committed to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals both in Finland and in international cooperation. The work to achieve these goals is guided by the UN’s 2030 Agenda, which emphasises that the means of implementation are as important as the actual goals.

Sustainable development – common methods for a shared target

The concept of corporate responsibility as such does not describe sustainability in the government. Sustainability is built into government activities and the implementation of statutory tasks for the benefit of society. Ministries, government agencies and institutions are also responsible for working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The government sustainability reporting framework being built on top of these goals provides a way of making the sustainability work done by the state visible. Reporting on the work done to promote sustainable development also helps identify areas where the government still has room for improvement. The value of sustainability reporting is based on the principle of collecting sustainability information in a single place and making it freely available to stakeholders, thus providing a clearer overall picture of government sustainability.

The process of comparing its activities to analysed data about the surrounding society will improve the state’s ability to solve global sustainability challenges. A Sustainability Report also allows an individual agency or ministry to use reporting as a way of better understanding its role as part of the government’s sustainability work and tackling sustainable development challenges. The long-term objective is to make sustainability reporting a fixed part of the annual reports of ministries, government agencies and institutions.

During November and December, the State Treasury will organise workshops that deal with the theory and content of sustainability reporting in general, as well as assessing the effectiveness of activities via the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These workshops will provide accounting units with support for making materiality assessments and identifying essential issues.

Making Sustainability Visible workshops in autumn 2020:

  • Workshop: UN Sustainable Development Goals as a Reporting Framework
    • Tuesday 10 November, 9-12
    • Wednesday 11 November, 9-12
    • Thursday 12 November, 12-15
  • Workshop: Stakeholder Analysis
    • Tuesday 24 November, 12-15
    • Thursday 11 November, 9-12 (Tuve)
    • Friday 27 November, 9-12

More detailed content of the workshops will be published closer to the event.

Read more about the project >

The significance of sustainability increases further in crisis situations >

Further information:
Katri Kanerva, tel. +358 295 503 364, katri.kanerva(at)
Henni Purtonen, tel. +358 295 502 017, henni.purtonen(at)



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