The Association of Finnish Municipalities adopts the Active Finland concept: “Residents need informal and easy ways to move, now more than ever”


Every Finn lives in a municipality, and it is the municipalities that create the framework for our daily lives in many respects. According to the CEO of the Association of Finnish Municipalities Minna Karhunen, municipalities are involved in everything related to people’s well-being and everyday lives. For this reason alone, the Association’s participation in the Active Finland campaign was self-evident from the very beginning.

– It is clear that this kind of project is impossible without the municipalities. Municipalities create the foundations for people’s ability to function, whether they are children, youths, adults or elderly. Municipalities affect the health of our population, how much we can move and how we can stay in shape both mentally and physically, Karhunen says to summarise.

Karhunen emphasises the comprehensive role that municipalities play in promoting the health and well-being of the population.

– The organisation of early childhood education, basic education and secondary education are municipal duties. Local exercise areas are nearly exclusively owned, maintained and operated by municipalities. Municipalities also have a significant impact on the local cultural offering, and actively operate in many other sectors as well. That is quite the palette, wouldn’t you say?

– People might not even realise the extent of things that municipalities make possible. If we weren’t involved in promoting an active lifestyle, there would be significantly fewer opportunities for exercise in Finland This would directly affect the health of our population, Karhunen adds.

Municipalities offer great opportunities for movement

The Association of Finnish Municipalities is concerned about the impact inactivity is having on children, youths and adults alike. Karhunen highlights the importance of the joy of movement.

– Everything begins with children and youths. In addition to competitive activities, we must put even more effort into providing easily accessible hobbies. This would allow us to lower the threshold for trying new things and foster the discovery of the joy of exercise.

The Association of Finnish Municipalities is on the move! By moving more, we ensure employee well-being and a more active working environment. The Association challenges all municipalities to join in!

Minna Karhunen, CEO of the Association of Finnish Municipalities

– Regarding working-age people we are primarily focusing on the needs of working life. It is backwards that while work is demanding more and more from us, we are simultaneously gravely concerned about deteriorating well-being in society. It is important that we also have time to rest, recharge and engage in hobbies after the workday has ended. If our workdays are constantly over 10 hours long and at their end we only have enough energy to sit on the couch and watch Netflix, we are not in a sustainable situation, says Karhunen.

Karhunen considers it important that people recognise the opportunities provided by the exercise infrastructure that municipalities have built. Even small respites from the hustle and bustle of life are a step in the right direction.

– I hope that people, and families especially, would have more time to use local exercise areas and municipal exercise services. In Finland we have first-class environments for moving and doing. It would be great if the potential of the opportunities was not only recognised but also utilised.

Together we can accomplish greater deeds

Karhunen believes that by increasing cooperation we can find solutions to social challenges as well.

– Nobody can succeed on their own. Municipalities would never have the resources to run as many person-workyears as we do now in cooperation with third-sector organisations. We also need the help of companies to organise our different functions. We need all operators – as well as individual acts and actors. Cooperation should be seen as added value, and we shouldn’t be jealous of each other. It must be understood that every person who moves is a win. We must come to realise that together we can accomplish greater deeds. We only have something to gain.

However, in the same breath, Karhunen wishes to bring up her concern over the government’s budget cuts. She hopes that the value of exercise would be recognised in all sectors of society.

– State subsidies for municipalities are tight and the current situation is now comprehensively reflected in municipal funding. I wish that the cuts would not target functions that promote exercise at a low threshold. We need informal and easy ways to move, now more than ever – and this is what the Association of Finnish Municipalities wants to help promote via the Active Finland concept as well, Karhunen says to summarise.