Statement by the President of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, at the SDG Summit, Leaders Dialogue 3, 25 September 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to this Leaders’ Dialogue number three “Measures to Leverage Progress Across the Sustainable Development Goals”. I am Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland and my co-moderator is His Excellency Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

Maybe we can start by me giving a couple of thoughts.

As we all know, we are entering the decisive decade for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Recent reports show the urgent need to accelerate action on all levels and by all stakeholders. Finland strongly supports the political declaration of the SDG Summit which we adopted yesterday.

The Global Sustainable Development Report has identified four levers that can help us in achieving the necessary transformation. First, governance; second economy and finance; thirdly individual and collective action and fourthly science and technology.

In this spirit, I wish to share some examples from Finland. We are determined to transform our country into a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society by 2030. One key objective in this vein is to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035. Second, we need a whole-of-society approach in implementing the 2030 Agenda. That means that not Governments only, not Parliaments only, but ordinary people have to understand and be with the process.

Thirdly, Governments need to base their planning and budgeting on sustainable development. In Finland we have integrated sustainable development into the State Budget, and will continue to do so. When we have Finance Ministers on board, we will start seeing real change happening. In a way money talks, but money can also talk in a positive way.

The Helsinki Principles adopted by 40 Ministers of Finance is and means systemic change in our thinking, in thinking of Ministries of Finance. That is to take notice in legislation, in taxation, in budgets, in investments – always the demands of climate and trying to stop climate change.

Fourthly, we also need to mobilize private sector investments. It is not only the public sector, the private sector has to find its responsibilities too.

Fifth, we need to promote science, technology and innovation, including social innovation, as a key driver for sustainable development.

Finland is very proud to host a growing number of UN innovation activities.

To conclude, I want to mention that Finland currently holds the Presidency of the European Union under the slogan ”Sustainable Europe – Sustainable Future”.  The common dominator of all EU action should be sustainability.

And now, Your Excellency, I give you the floor.