A brighter future for Finland

Archipelago view

The new Government Programme here in Finland has been faulted for wasteful use of money and a lack of tools. Many say that the Government should tighten the belt because the changing age demographic will cost Finland a billion euros each year according to some estimates. And the Government's toolkit is apparently inadequate.

I am going to do the opposite. I will look at the Government Programme and see what is good in it, from the absolutely objective perspective of a futurist.

The first good thing in the Programme is that its general tone is future-oriented. It starts with a situation report and then defines its visions and goals. I have never seen a programme that leans this far into the future.

Another good thing is that the Programme clearly states that the future will be more international. It lays out – in no uncertain terms – how the Government plans to make it easier for foreigners immigrating to Finland to find jobs. This is critical; according to some estimates, Finland will need 250,000 new people from abroad by 2030 to expand the labour supply of.

Newcomers are even more important culturally. Finland needs a change in attitudes and practices to attract new people from other cultures to enrich ours, to innovate and to create new services. Remember, the true drivers of progress in this world, from the Silicon Valley to Singapore and Bangalore, have always been multicultural and liberal. 

The Government's promises to reform politics are also very significant. The Government makes a strong commitment to removing red tape, increasing co-operation across sectors and simplifying administration.

This is also the first government that is truly and significantly committed to ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development. Climate objectives, the inclusion of soil and forest carbon sinks and a commitment to furthering the circulation economy have been expressed in such concrete terms that I am confident that the Government is actually serious.

The Government has also committed to future investments, worth a total of three billion euros, and promises to do its best to bring R&D&I investment back to around four per cent of GDP. Since Nokia's peak years, Finland's investment rate has fallen dangerously low and we have to dig it out of its hole.

I also salute the Government for the way it drew up its programme. The process started with future aspirations and ambitions and then drew a path to the present and to realism, which is how I believe a Government Programme should be drawn up.  

Finally, the Programme is defined by a strong desire to influence the causes of the inequality that is integral to our society. Placing emphasis on a collective social conscience in a time when so many voices in Finland and abroad want to drive a wedge between "us" and "them" is brilliant and its is wonderful to have a Government that unequivocally distances itself from exclusionary politics.

The world is changing and we must be more aware than ever before of the change-driving forces that appear on our front step. The transformation of the workplace is massive; on the US labour market, which always leads the way, atypical employment relationships are becoming the norm. This will require protection for all kinds of workers in increasingly dynamic labour markets.

But above all else: the rapid progress of climate change will force societies all around the globe to create new kinds of social, economic and tax policies. The use of non-renewable resources must be taxed much harder while taxes on work must be lowered. And, to shrink our ecological footprint, materials, energy and human capital must be circulated better.

If Finland takes the lead in this and succeeds, the outcome can only be global success and fame.