Finnish municipalities and regions

Regions and communities


Regions and communities

Finnish municipalities have a broad responsibility for the environment and technical services. They steer land use planning and are responsible for building control. Local authorities grant the majority of environmental permits and monitor compliance with the permit conditions. Municipal residents have by law the right to participate in land use planning.

Residents have a right to a good living environment. Municipalities are creating better local environments for everyone through their housing policy, public construction, maintenance of traffic routes, public transport, waste management, parks and outdoor areas.

Land use and building supervision

The purpose of land use planning and building supervision is to create a favourable living environment, to promote sustainable development of communities and to ensure good building quality.

Planning is governed by regional land use plans prepared by regional councils. A local master plan gives general directions on land use, whereas a local detailed plan contains a plan for the implementation. The municipality’s development and need to steer land use influence how the plans are drawn up and kept up-to-date.

Traffic ways and housing

Municipal housing policy, public construction, the maintenance of traffic ways, public transport, parks and outdoor areas contribute to a good living environment.

Municipalities own 12 per cent of Finland’s housing stock. They own numerous premises, making municipalities important players in the public construction sector. 

Water supply and electricity production

The water supply and sewage systems are usually organised by municipally-owned utilities and, more rarely, by private co-operatives. Almost 90 per cent of Finns have access to municipal water supply. They pay water and wastewater charges, which are used to cover the costs.

Many local authorities manage electricity distribution and district heating in their area, and some of the largest municipalities produce some of their own energy. In the largest cities, up to 90 per cent of the buildings are covered by the district heating network.

Waste management

Local authorities are responsible for household waste management in their areas, and real estates are required to join the organised waste transport system. Local authorities are responsible for the household hazardous waste disposal as well. There are 39 regional waste treatment facilities jointly owned by two or more municipalities, and they serve 90 per cent of Finland's population.

Every year, households generate approximately 200 kg of waste per resident. Today, about 40 per cent of this waste can be recovered.

Environmental protection

Local authorities share the central government’s responsibility for the administration and official duties related to environmental protection. A municipal environmental authority is a body designated by a municipality, and usually it is the environmental committee. The legislation governing the responsibilities of a municipal environmental authority has increased eightfold since 1986 when municipal environmental administration was first established.

Local authorities grant environmental permits, monitor the environmental status and control activities affecting the environment. They promote sustainable development and draw up regional Agenda 21 programmes. The municipalities participating in the campaign Cities for Climate Protection–Finland run by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities calculate their own energy and greenhouse gas emissions balances, analyse emission trends and develop plans to cut emissions.

Find out more:

Land Use and Building Act 

Finland’s environmental administration

Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications

Finnish Ministry of the Employment and Economy