Climate work is visible in almost all activities of the Council of Tampere Region

2022-08-02 Liisa Hyttinen

In this blog, we will take a look at the climate and biodiversity work of the Council of Tampere Region in order to achieve the regional carbon neutrality objective.

The Council of Tampere Region carries out climate work on a broad front and from many perspectives. The tools include programming at strategic level, regional planning, project funding, networking, coordination of sustainable urban development and project activities involving the Council as a project implementer or partner.

Our climate work is intertwined throughout almost all of our operations. The European framework for this dual transition, the digital and green transition, will guide our action both strategically and in practice in the coming years. We are moving our focus towards a diverse set of actions to accelerate the green and digital transition.

Towards the end of 2020, we compiled the carbon neutral Pirkanmaa 2030 road map (in Finnish), which includes a strategic overall coverage of the region's emission reduction systems and measures. Currently, the road map’s measures are being promoted in order to bring projects and resources to the region, thus strengthening and expanding climate work. In addition, climate work is supported by peer support workshops targeted at municipalities and other actors in the region. During this year, we are also developing a portfolio approach to understanding and monitoring the overall climate work of the Council, which especially supports management with information in choosing priorities. Above all, the focus is on monitoring the road map so that we can put invest in areas that are lacking.

The pursuit of carbon neutrality can also be seen in a cross-sectional way in the recently approved Pirkanmaa regional programme (in Finnish). The regional programme includes five missions, which are joint development tasks set for the regional actors. The carbon neutrality target is most clearly reflected in the mission “Responsible business growth and renewal”, which aims to move Pirkanmaa towards a fair dual transition – towards a green and digital economy. The mission “Living and moving in Pirkanmaa sustainably” also guides the region towards carbon neutrality. From the point of view of existing competence and innovation activity, the spearheads of smart specialisation included in the regional programme are also relevant. According to these spearheads, the EU's RDI funding in Pirkanmaa will be directed, among other things, to the themes of “Responsibly renewed industry and controlled sustainability change” and “Smart and sustainable communities”.

Preparation of the energy strategy has begun in the Council of Tampere Region, which is based on the Pirkanmaa energy system survey published at the end of 2021. The aim of the work is to outline strategic choices to support the development of an energy system that will enable a carbon neutral Pirkanmaa by 2030. While the strategy is forward-looking, current world political developments must be taken into account. In particular, this raises the role of security of supply and energy security as a whole.

However, it seems that stronger European energy independence and the elimination of dependence on Russia are in line with the carbon neutrality objectives. The energy strategy will be drawn up in broad cooperation and its results can be used, for example, in land use planning and targeting development activities.

The climate and biodiversity are already strongly reflected in land use planning. The Pirkanmaa regional land use plan for the phase has been launched and its initial theme will be sustainable energy production and biodiversity. We are looking into the possibilities of wind energy production in Pirkanmaa, so that we can indicate the areas suitable for it in the regional land use plan. In addition, the first regional biodiversity programme in Finland is being prepared for Pirkanmaa. The Council is also involved in, among other things, the Pirkabio cooperation network (in Finnish) to promote the production and use of biogas in Pirkanmaa.

Funding climate projects and the green transition is one of the most important elements of the climate portfolio of the Council of Tampere Region. This is how we take change forward in the region through funding. An example of this is the PirkaCirc project (in Finnish) led by Verte Oy, which aims at the conceptualisation of a development platform focusing on the bioeconomy and circular economy that serves the region. At the regional level, there is a need for a systematic development platform in line with the 4P (public-private people-partnership) model that will encourage and enable long-term cooperation, which combines the activities of the public and private sectors at the regional and municipal level. The development platform will strengthen regional and international competitiveness, create sustainable growth and modernise industrial structures.

Climate work is also visible in projects implemented by the Council itself or where it is a partner. One such project is the Pirkanmaa ecological transition project (in Finnish), which took into account not only climate and sustainability work, but also the needs of companies and RDI activities. One of the results is the future story of a socially and ecologically sustainable Pirkanmaa and bringing a doughnut model to support the vitality and sustainability of Pirkanmaa. Based on the doughnut model, a set of vitality indicators has been created to illustrate the sustainability status of Pirkanmaa in relation to other regions and the national level. The EU-funded Circwaste project, on the basis of the doughnut model, created a current status analysis of Pirkanmaa, which looked at the sustainability of Pirkanmaa from a local, global, social and ecological perspective.

Economic sustainability must also be taken into account

In addition, the sustainable urban development entity Innovative Cities and Communities (in Finnish) coordinated by the Council of Tampere Region in Finland, brings its own approach to the climate package. Ecosystem agreements between 16 urban regions and the state are at the core of the development package. The content of the agreements is related to a wide range of current themes, such as low-carbon, digital technology and well-being and health. The focus areas of the Tampere ecosystem agreement  (in Finnish) are Sustainable industry X (SIX), buildings, energy and infrastructure, and digital health solutions.

At the same time, it is good to take into account that ecologically and socially sustainable solutions are made possible by economically sustainable solutions. Today, economic growth is driven by the digital transition, which is progressing on several fronts, changing societies and people's ways of doing things. The European Commission has identified digitalisation as a major societal driver of change and has created a proposal for the digital decade 2030. The objectives of the proposal have been defined in the digital compass, which examines the transition from the perspectives of digital competence, infrastructure, business and public services.

In the Council of Tampere Region, digitalisation has been strongly placed the heart of the work, and it also has footholds for climate work. The Council has started compiling the digital compass (in Finnish) from the perspective of the region and is at the forefront of this work at the same time as the Finnish national digital compass is being compiled. Digitalisation can also meet ecological and social needs. Through digitalisation, we can anticipate and improve energy management, which is an ecologically significant opportunity. In addition, we can renew the structures of business, which will open up new paths for the prosperity of citizens. Overall, technological change has historically been a key driver of renewal and new opportunities.

We are also a versatile operator in different types and levels of networks. Sometimes our role is coordinating or participating in cooperation, and sometimes our task is to lead, accelerate or initiate cooperation. In cooperation with regional, national and international actors, we are able to accelerate climate work in many different ways. Here, too, the old saying is often true: The journey is more important than the destination. This means that the diverse cooperation that often takes place in the preparation processes promotes and drives climate work and activities most effectively.

Project Manager Liisa Hyttinen, Council of Tampere Region

Further information in Finnish:

The blog post was originally published on the Council of Tampere Region’s blog on 16 March 2022

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