Åland is a society in transformation, where citizens, organisations, authorities, and companies are working together towards a common vision; Everyone can Flourish in a Viable Society on the Islands of Peace. It is a common vision for a sustainable society for all on the Ålands Islands and was created by hundreds of people. The road to realising this vision is mapped out by seven strategic goals, produced by disctict groups of experts. This democratic and inclusive process of transforming society is what we call the Bärkraft Process.
Understanding that nature constitutes the foundation of human existence, the elected members of parliament and government, in 2014, chose to adopt a collective goal of total sustainability in Åland no later than 2051. A network, bärkraft.ax, created for all citizens, organisations, authorities, and companies, was established and within this network the Development and Sustainability Agenda for Åland was created through a true bottom-up, inside out process.
The collective pursuit of a sustainable and viable society requires a development and sustainability agenda for Åland. The agenda consists of a vision, strategic development goals for 2030, indicators for monitoring these goals, and supporting structures for the realisation of the agenda. The supporting structures are intended to help all contributors to progress from thought to action in implementing the agenda.
The Development and Sustainability Agenda for Åland
The agenda has a firm democratic background. It was developed by hundreds of people through a process launched in 2016, when everyone living and working in Åland was invited to be part of the definition of a collective vision. The agenda consists of a vision and seven strategic development goals for 2030. The Agenda has been adopted by the Parliament of Åland and has been integrated into governmental budgeting. With purposeful action in everyone’s daily life, and in the working practices of all sectors of society, we strive to realise the vision: Everyone can flourish in a viable society on the Islands of Peace.
An internationally used definition of the term sustainable development makes up the basis for the agenda. The definition consists of the four sustainability principles, which are listed below. Around 1990, led by Professor Karl-Henrik Robért, ecologists, chemists, physicists, doctors, and other experts from around the world agreed on a definition of the four principles of sustainability, which define a sustainable society, or rather what is needed in order to maintain life on our planet in the long term.
In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing…
- … concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth’s crust (fossil fuels, metals, and minerals)
- … concentrations of substances produced by society (synthetic substances, chemicals that contain persistent substances; or natural substances that are in use in larger quantities than nature can handle)
- … degradation by physical means (over-exploitation of natural resources, including water, forests, fish-stocks, or farmland; the usage of important natural environments for, for example, building, the introduction of alien and invasive species, production that results in refuse rather than being a closed substance cycle)
- And, in that society, people are not subject to structures that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs, including health, influence, skills development, impartiality and creation of meaning.
The seven strategic development goals were produced by distinct groups in accordance with suggestions by a group of 59 experts. The development goals all have the same timeframe, to be fulfilled by 2030. Each goal has a set of indicators with the purpose of monitoring the progress towards the Agenda.
In parallel with the definition of an agenda for Åland, the rest of the world has done the same. In September 2015, UN member states formally adopted the Agenda 2030 with 17 sustainable development goals for the world. The realisation of the local agenda in Åland functions as our contribution, albeit small, to the implementation of Agenda 2030.
The network bärkraft.ax is the centre for coordinating the work towards the Development and Sustainability Agenda.
The network was created in 2016 by actors in the public sector, business, associations, and education. Participation in bärkraft.ax is possible for all sectors of society and all people willing to contribute to a viable and sustainable Åland. The forms of cooperation are transparent and ever evolving. Participants are the developers of the network and recreators of its content.
All organisations from the public sector, civil society and companies can be a part of the network and implementing the Agenda. The member organisations make up the core of bärkraft.ax. It is the member organisations who constantly coordinate actions for the realisation of the Agenda. A wide variety of organisations can become members. Associations, interest groups, schools, institutions, funds, government agencies, municipalities, parliament, government, and enterprises are all part of the network.
As a member, the organisation endorses the Development and Sustainability Agenda with a decision by their decision-making body. Furthermore, the organisation strives towards developing their activities in accordance with the Agenda. The organisation pledges to make the membership and contributions to the implementation visible and to annually assess its activities in relation to the Development and Sustainability Agenda.
The Development and Sustainability Council
The implementation of the Agenda occurs in all of society, but the government has the political responsibility for the realisation of the Agenda. The Development and Sustainability Council is made up of individuals from different sectors and responsible for the vitality and longevity of the network. Members are selected by the Government of Åland and meet for two ordinary meetings annually. The head of the Government of Åland is one of the members and functions as council president. The council regularly assesses the societal work towards the Development and Sustainability Agenda.
The working group for coordination and reporting
The working group is tasked with coordinating the realisation of the Development and Sustainability Agenda’s seven strategic development goals, as well as responsibility for the reporting of the implementation. The working group is responsible for making sure that central actors, including businesses, municipalities, and other agencies, have the possibility to participate in the common work of coordination and reporting.
Implementation of the Agenda requires wide scale societal change, and the sustainability coordinators work with these processes on all levels of society. The sustainability coordinators support and lead the processes for implementing the Development and Sustainability Agenda. These processes can be advising organisations and companies, education activities, communication efforts, and creating platforms for member organisations and society in general.
Implementing the Development and Sustainability Agenda is a work in progress and all enterprises, municipalities and other public organisations, and civil society have the possibility to contribute to the realisation of the Agenda. The sustainability coordinators are a vital part of making this happen through support, inspiration and coordinated efforts.
The Bärkraft Process is complex, agile and inclusive for all of society and is the method by which Åland will realise the vision; Everyone Can Flourish in a Viable Society on the Islands of Peace.