Stories of the Finnish Arctic Expertise

People power for cleaner air


The municipality of Ii in Northern Ostrobothnia received the prestigious RegioStars trophy in Brussels on October 10. There were a total of 103 contestants and 24 EU funded projects were shortlisted for the finals. Ii won the category Energy Union: climate change.

The municipality of Ii is on track to cut CO2 emissions by 80 % thanks to a switch to renewables and redesigning public services with its citizens. From 2007 to 2015, Ii reduced its CO2 emissions more quickly than any other municipality in the country, according to the Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE. It achieved these savings by redesigning public services, using less energy and switching to renewable energy.

To take this impressive achievement further, Ii turned to its citizens, in its Innovative Low-Carbon Public Services project. Through consultation methods such as workshops or competitions, citizens shared ideas on how to make climate-friendly choices desirable and easy. Their insights have improved public transport and cycling infrastructure, helped re-zone the town centre, introduced smart technology into public services and led to a scheme to recognise businesses that save resources.

The co-design approach has not only made public services more citizen-focused and  better value, but it has enhanced cooperation and efficiency between municipal departments.

Ii plans to co-design further improvements to services to cut CO2 emission levels to 20 % of 2007 levels before 2020. It hopes to use the RegioStars Award to raise awareness of its successful approach in municipalities across Finland and beyond.

RegioStars Awards identify good practices in regional development and highlight original and innovative projects that are attractive and inspiring to other regions.