12/06/2019

The Idea of Finland

As Finnish society and politics are reorienting themselves, I cannot help but spend a moment thinking about what the idea of Finland will be in the future. How will the success story of an independent Finland that has developed into one of the world’s most well functioning societies continue? Climate change, trade wars, isolationism and the increasingly polarised and even hostile exchange of views cast shadows that make it easy to fall into pessimism.

Finland’s new government has taken the position that politics must provide people security and hope for a better tomorrow in a rapidly changing world. Politics and the public sector are important building blocks of a good world, but they are not the only ones. I persistently believe in the ability of individuals, communities and companies to face up to and solve problems. The solution can be found in every one of us—including as consumers. The state’s job is to provide a dynamic and fair legal environment to support this development. 

I have been happy to see how the Finnish business community has tackled the challenges of the day—whether in the form of biofuels, hybrid engines for cargo ships or green bonds. This change was not dictated by legislation or regulation, but had its start in companies and investors themselves seeing that reform is inevitable and also creates business opportunities.

We have also re-examined our own societal contributions at Castrén & Snellman. Sustainable and responsible business practices, such as caring for our employees and our environment, form one of the pillars of our firm.  Another pillar concerns our role as a corporate citizen. As a member of the Finnish Bar Association, we contribute to the rule of law and good legislation and engage in pro bono work in projects that benefit society as a whole.

Our third pillar—where our impact is the greatest—involves our clients: we help our clients meet the requirements of corporate responsibility in their businesses and to renew themselves sustainably. This is something we are focusing on more and more in all of the advice we provide.

Finland cannot solve global problems alone, but we can blaze a trail and be a responsible example for others. Disagreements are acceptable and to be expected, but we do need to find a shared way forward and put our trust both in ourselves and in each another. We need education, innovation, risk-taking, an international mind-set and, above all, hard work to ensure that Finland's success story continues. Maybe that could be the idea of Finland.