The Helsinki region was fourth in the competitiveness comparison of Nordic metropolitan areas

MDI studied the perspective of LHT planning (MAL in Finnish), emphasising the international competitiveness of the Helsinki region in relation to the metropoles of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Oslo and Copenhagen-Malmö. The comparison also included the urban areas of Tallinn and Riga, the results of which were combined in the overall comparison into ‘Baltic urban areas’.

The study was carried out as part of the LHT 23 design work and defined competitiveness as a constructive success in a variety of ways in terms of attractiveness, productivity and innovation, quality of life and nurturing the environment. A total of 48 urban areas were compared using a total of 48 indicators. Based on the results of the comparison, the study also structured which issues affecting the competitiveness of the urban area can be influenced by LHT planning.

The Stockholm region proved to be the most competitive in the comparison, followed by the urban areas of Oslo and Copenhagen-Malmö. The Helsinki region ranked fourth, clearly behind the top three. In the analysis, the strengths of the Helsinki region in relation to the comparators turned out to be technology industry and startup-driven innovation, equality and indicators related to a good work-life balance. According to the results, Helsinki is a happy, safe and healthy environment and has managed to avoid segregation better than the control city areas.

The Helsinki region, on the other hand, still has a lot to do in terms of productivity and innovation capacity, as well as in relation to net migration, which is essentially related to them. The Helsinki region is the only area in the comparison where GDP per capita has decreased in the 2010s. In addition, employment in the Helsinki area is the lowest and unemployment the highest. In terms of the availability of skilled labour and research and development expenditure, the Helsinki region is ranked lowest in Nordic comparison. The Helsinki region is also clearly behind in terms of sustainable development: there are fewer carbon sinks and protected areas than in the comparator cities while the carbon neutrality targets score only at mid-range for the Nordics.

– The Helsinki region therefore really needs to step up, especially in matters related to ecology, for which bold solutions are required in terms of future LHT work. It is worth studying our neighbours and drawing the requisite conclusions in terms of promoting a better future, notes Timo Hämäläinen, who prepared the report.

MDI carried out the study in cooperation with WSP.