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Resource wisdom going strong in Jyväskylä - cost savings bear out claims

If the resources assigned to environmental education or waste management counselling are increased, do we need to spend less money on keeping public areas clean? Each year Jyväskylä produces an environmental statement which reveals how much time and money are devoted to the environment.

Talking about the wise use of is easy. But how can we demonstrate that good intentions have indeed been implemented? In Jyväskylä one concrete example of resource wisdom being put into practice is the environmental statement which is drawn up each year. This details environmental income and expenditure together with investments in straightforward euro terms.

The environmental statement provides comparable data with respect to the city’s own operations as well as official tasks. ”The environmental statement is a management and decision-making tool. It can be used to demonstrate whether the measures we have taken support the implementation of resource wisdom. At the same time we can ponder how resource wisdom should best be moved forward,” says Mervi Saukko, the City of Jyväskylä’s Environmental Expert.

Individual years can be compared

Saukko points out that the environmental statement puts opinions and framework policies into concrete form. If an issue has been defined by the city as important, then the intention is also there to commit money and resources.

”The statement provides an immediate indication of the investments made and the amount that has been spent on environmental protection, for instance.”

In addition to providing hard numbers the environmental statement encourages interpretations. If more money has been spent on counselling and education, is this reflected in cost reductions, for example, in the amount of money needed to keep public areas clean? Or can the decline in revenue from the waste tax be considered a sign that recycling is working well, since this tax has to be paid on material that ends up in a landfill?

”In this manner environmental matters can be brought to the table for political decision-making. The environmental statement for its part assists strategic planning in Jyväskylä,” Saukko emphasizes.

The City of Jyväskylä’s environmental statement contains details of income and expenditure related to waste management, actions that boost eco-efficiency, environmental taxes, water protection and waste water treatment, environmental administration, the sanitation of public areas as well as nature and landscape conservation among others.

In Jyväskylä the environmental statement has been presented as part of the city’s annual financial report proper from the2009 financial year onward. Information was gathered separately from the city’s annual financial report as long ago as in 2005.

”Compiling the data each year makes it possible to compare individual years. The information reveals in which direction we are heading,” Saukko states.

RESOURCE-WISE JYVÄSKYLÄ

  • The aim of the joint project involving the City of Jyväskylä and Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, is to promote the wiser use of resources and to reduce environmental impacts in cooperation with local residents, businesses and organisations.
  • The depletion of natural resources, population growth and climate change are forcing societies around the world to become more efficient and cut emissions.
  • According to one study by embracing measures to reduce both emissions and the use of natural resources an urban region the size of Jyväskylä could create employment for a thousand people and bring about positive economic impacts worth a hundred million euro each year.
  • Trials have already been conducted in Jyväskylä on how the share of local food in public-sector kitchens could be increased and what form resourcewise living might take in the future as more strategies to reduce our material footprint are employed.
  • Ways have also been sought in Jyväskylä to boost the number of people using public transport, cut carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption as well as create a scalable, resource-saving model for making journeys to and from work.
  • The leftover food experiment which originated in Jyväskylä has now spread all over Finland.

Words by Tommi Salo. The article was orginally published in the Jyväskylä On the Move magazine Summer / Autumn 2015.

5.8.2015Satu Heikkinen

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