Mari Kiviniemi

Speech at Summit Forum - Oct. 31, 2010

Mari Kiviniemi
October 31, 2010— Shanghai, China
Summit Forum
Print friendly


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express my warm thanks to the National Organizing Committee of Expo 2010 Shanghai China, United Nations and Bureau of International Expositions for convening this Forum. It is important that the ideas and viewpoints that have been raised in different Expo forums and venues during the past six months are collected and the foundation for the post-Expo work is laid.

I would like to congratulate the government of China and the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination for the successful Expo 2010. It has not only broken records in terms of the amount of participants and visitors, but it has also made its important contribution to finding solutions to the challenges of urbanization.

These challenges are very substantial, indeed. Countries around the world have to give a serious thought to matters of sustainable living and housing. These are topics that will be with us for decades to come. They are not easy to solve, but they have to be solved. As the temperature of the Earth rises, we are faced with an accelerating pace of urban settlement, continuously growing energy prices and rapidly diminishing fossil fuel reserves. In these dramatically changing conditions, it will be crucial to figure out how cities can provide conditions for good life in the future.

The use of energy in buildings and in the construction sector amount to over 40% of final energy consumption globally. Therefore, improving the man-made environment plays a crucial role in using the energy resources in a sound way.

In Finland we have developed renewable energy techniques, passive house concepts and other environmental technologies and products. In the future, it will be crucial to develop an even more holistic approach to sustainability in urban development - we need to widen our scope from products and buildings to entire cities. In this respect, China is a true pioneer in building eco-cities that take into account different aspects of sustainability.

At the European level, one of the latest policy actions is the directive of Energy Performance of Buildings that was adopted last spring. The new directive sets ambitious energy requirements for all new buildings and for major renovations in EU member states. As a member of the European Union, Finland is steadily changing its energy-efficiency demands towards low-energy and passive house standards. We are, for example, finalizing a program for an energy-smart built environment by 2017 and our target is to make the Finnish built environment the best in the world by 2050.

One of the methods to achieve this target is energy efficiency and reduced emissions in land use planning. This will be done by including emission calculations in the assessments of the impacts of land use plans. Another method is supervising construction industry in a way that it supports the creation of an energy-smart built environment. The key tools will be the building codes, energy certificates, and property taxes.

Due to the severity of the climate challenge, it is important to act immediately at every level – we have to be active in the international, national and local levels. More importantly, we need to work together and learn from each other.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations is among the most important global partners when we strive towards sustainable urban development.

Finland has been a long-term supporter of UN-Habitat. We appreciate the fact that UN-Habitat can significantly promote urban innovations due to its worldwide network of partners and comprehensive experience in urban issues.

I believe that UN-Habitat's work may be substantially benefitted by the UNEP –led process to strengthen the overall international environment governance. The Finnish Minister of Environment, Ms. Paula Lehtomäki is one of the co-chairs in this work.

In August 2010, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP). The panel is chaired by Mrs Tarja Halonen, President of Finland and Mr Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa.

I am confident that the panel will have a crucial task in formulating a new blueprint for sustainable growth and low-carbon prosperity. The Panel will certainly provide valuable input to global solutions for tackling urbanization and climate crisis in an efficient manner.

The theme of the Shanghai Expo “Better City, Better Life” could not be more topical. The Expo has shown the significance of urban innovation and urban development for achieving global sustainability. Planning and building more eco-efficient and green cities now and in the future can help to save our extraordinary planet, reduce poverty and social problems, enhance the stability of society, and create the foundation for favorable economic development.

The Finnish themes at the Expo 2010 have been the following: well-being, competence and the environment. These themes are reflected in the Finland Pavilion that is built to be re-assembled and made to last for decades to come. The Finnish pavilion highlights sustainability, recycling of materials and energy efficiency. Our aim at the Expo has been to “Share Inspiration” with our partners around the world. Finland will continue the collaboration in the same spirit after the Expo.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to express the best of success to this Forum. May it bring about a lively discussion, an active interaction and concrete collaboration between all the participants. I wish the best of success also to the closing ceremony of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China held later tonight.

Thank you.