The new maritime strategy of Helsinki is looking to promote recreation opportunities for residents, develop tourist services and boost the city’s general appeal. The sea location of the SEA20 member city is an essential part of its heritage and profile.

With an archipelago of over 330 islands and half of its population living within walking or cycling distance from the coastline, Helsinki is ranked among the top maritime cities of the world. It supports a strong marine ecosystem for logistics, infrastructure and leisure.

To make better use of the Finnish capital’s location as an attraction factor for the city, Helsinki’s new maritime strategy aims to find ways of improving public access to maritime sites, developing public services in the archipelago, and fostering various related events. All this is carried out in close cooperation with the entire maritime cluster.

“Helsinki has the largest maritime ecosystem in the country, and the related cluster is one of the focus areas of the city’s economic development policy. Helsinki has a strong city-port policy supporting sustainable co-evolution concerning, for example, land area use, environmental targets and the development of traffic connections,” says Ulla Tapaninen, Head of Unit, Enterprise Services, City of Helsinki.


Unique sea nature

Helsinki has also acted as a test ground for pilot projects on various shore and marine activities, including intelligent port hinterland operations, shore connections to vessels and remote-controlled ferries for traffic to the Suomenlinna sea fortress. This March, Helsinki started a new initiative, Jätkäsaari Smart Mobility, promoting an intelligent port-city relationship.

“Also, the focus of the city’s maritime strategy is not only to improve access to destinations but also the sustainability of waterborne transportation. As part of this, we are now starting to develop a zero-emission programme for ferries in the archipelago. The first event related to the project was organised together with Wärtsilä this April,” Tapaninen says.

Helsinki treasures its sea nature, and all planning and use of the shores and archipelago is responsible and always carried out with consideration to the demands set by the sensitive archipelagic nature, the protection of the Baltic Sea and cultural heritage. In Helsinki’s view, environmental awareness presents opportunities for new kinds of business activities and product innovations.

“Helsinki is committed to protecting the Baltic Sea, specifically the coastal waters and marine environments of the city. The aim is to improve the water quality of coastal waters by reducing pollutants and waste from the land, and to protect ecologically valuable marine environments, increasing marine biodiversity and sustaining important resources for marine life. Also, Helsinki encourages people to take action and work together for a healthier Baltic Sea,” Tapaninen explains, adding that also the Port of Helsinki has ambitious environmental targets, linked to the carbon neutral strategy of the city.


2030 vision

Tapaninen says that in order to remain competitive in the future, the city of Helsinki believes in strong collaboration with its diverse maritime cluster. The city has close connections to the port and port operators, shipping companies, technology and service providers and environmental institutions. Global megatrends will, naturally, shape the course forward also for the marine sector.

“The major megatrends affecting the world today – urbanisation, climate change and digitalisation – will all have an impact on the way Helsinki is able to succeed in the international competition and, at the same time, secure sustainable growth.”

Extending into 2030, the city’s maritime strategy hopes to steer Helsinki towards a thriving, carbon-neutral future, taking full advantage of its location.

The city’s vision and local development plans will be presented by the Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori, as part of the SEA20 High-level meeting on 27 June 2019 at the Hilton Hotel Kalastajatorppa in Helsinki. The meeting brings together key findings and key people to develop the next steps for the SEA20 initiative to expand into all areas surrounding oceans and the maritime industry.