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A new shopping centre was under construction in Kalasatama, Helsinki, on 8 January, 2018.
A new shopping centre was under construction in Kalasatama, Helsinki, on 8 January, 2018.

 

Greater Helsinki must be afforded the same opportunity to develop its strengths as the more rural regions in Finland, demands Sauli Hievanen, an industry policy specialist at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK).

“Finnish regional and competitiveness policy has always sworn by developing regional strengths. The Helsinki region, however, has not been allowed to do that,” he wrote in his blog on Tuesday.

He views that urban policy making has been neglected by the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre). Sweden, he highlights, has invested ten times as much in supporting investments in its capital region than Finland. The word ‘urbanisation’ similarly does not appear once in the government programme, titled Finland, a land of solutions.

“In spite of its importance and future-shaping dimension, urban policy has not been on the agenda of the government of Sipilä. On the contrary, the government has been allowed to unabashedly strip cities of power until recently,” he slams.

Hievanen reminds that the success of the capital region is crucial also for the rest of Finland. He stresses that the next government must recognise the special significance of the region and take advantage of the positive effects of urbanisation on economic growth.

He draws attention to a study conducted by McKinsey, which indicates that the degree of urbanisation accounts for two-thirds of the disparities in gross domestic product growth in Europe and the United States.

“People primarily do not move to a particular country but rather to the most attractive cities. The importance of cities as producers and maintainers of competitiveness is greater than that of states. Metropolitan areas' significance as drivers of the global economy will increase particularly,” predicts Hievanen.

He also voices his support for demands that the next government agree on “a competitiveness pact” with the municipalities and higher education institutions in Greater Helsinki. The pact, he explains, would extend co-operation between the central administration and the metropolitan area to the domains of education, innovation and research.

The idea of the competitiveness pact was floated in an urban policy assessment published on Tuesday by MDI Public.The assessment was conducted on commission from SAK, Service Sector United (PAM), the Mortgage Society of Finland (Hypo), the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries (RT), the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra), and the Building Information Group.

It found, for example, that Greater Helsinki is growing at a relatively modest rate in comparison to the capital regions elsewhere in the Nordics.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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