7. Recommendations

This chapter provides a summary of the key recommendations which are intercalated throughout the report. The recommendations for each section are thus rooted in and informed by the analysis in each respective chapter. For additional information and background context, please consult the chapters as indicated in each heading.

  • Services such as legal aid are targeting the most disadvantaged members of society. Outreach programmes could be strengthened by hiring more people from minority groups, ensuring that the needs of minority, at-risk language groups, and particular sub-groups of vulnerable people are catered to.

  • Oversight institutions could use quantitative data on the implementation of civic freedoms more visibly and strategically, accompanied by strategic communications, to raise awareness of violations and improve impact.

    • More visible and regular publishing of disaggregated data would help to shed light not only on clients, but also on emerging needs, gaps and accessibility challenges in services.

  • Ensuring adequate and consistent funding for all of the oversight institutions will allow them to respond to the growing demand for their services and to fulfil their core mandates.

  • It is important to move from the current project-based, fragmented approach to tackling hate speech to a more encompassing, coordinated, whole-of-government, long-term approach to ensure that Finnish women, journalists, public officials, minorities, and any other groups or individuals have the same opportunity to participate in public life as others, without fear of recrimination and self-censorship. This could be attained via a cross-government strategy/action plan.

    • This approach could be accompanied by a long-term mandate for an independent oversight mechanism and measurable goals for key actors including the police, the Office of the Public Prosecutor, political parties and private sector companies whose platforms amplify hate speech.

  • Finland is far from being alone in seeking to tackle challenges related to hate crime and hate speech and could learn from measures undertaken in other countries in this area.

  • It is important for Finland’s legal framework to keep pace with changes in this fast-developing area. Several welcome legal reforms are ongoing – including to make it easier to prosecute offenders and to increase punishments of crimes motivated by gender - and should be prioritised.

    • Mass action targeting where individuals are subjected to an orchestrated campaign of online abuse, including incitement and knowing participation in such campaigns, is particularly important to address.

    • Planned reforms to the Criminal Code and sexual offence laws to criminalise cyber-flashing should also be prioritised.

  • Continuing to raise the profile of hate crime and hate speech within the national police force could help to ensure the necessary political will to tackle it. Public communications, speeches from senior police force members, and sustained, mandatory training could be used to spread relevant messages, with a view to enhancing police performance and outreach to affected communities, increasing reporting, yielding more prosecutions and enhancing awareness of people’s legal rights in this area.

    • Training could be continuously improved by impact evaluations, including assessments of the quality of responses to reports of hate crime by victims.

  • Reporting of hate crimes could be made more accessible and easier for the public. A low threshold, well-advertised, accessible reporting system that invites reporting online as well as in person and makes a clear statement about zero tolerance in multiple languages, could make it easier for victims to come forward.

    • More aggressive prosecution could also help to act as a deterrent, in combination with sustained awareness raising and education, including among perpetrators, particularly on the impact of targeting (or online shaming) and the relevant legal framework.

  • The allocation of sustained and dedicated resources to the police to tackle hate crimes and hate speech is crucial. Furthermore, the police would welcome support from CSOs on monitoring and countering hate crime/hate speech and public funding could be provided for this purpose as part of a more joined-up approach.

  • Currently, detailed data on hate crimes are available and published annually. A shift in approach to publishing strategic data more frequently could help to highlight the urgency of the problem.

    • More visible disaggregated data (as well as the inclusion of gender-based hate speech and violence in statistics) could also help residents and citizens to protect themselves, service providers to target support services, and to highlight geographical areas where hate crimes are occurring.

    • Enhanced data illustrating the pathways between reporting of hate crimes, police coding of such crimes, the court system and the prosecutions of such crimes could also help to make the system more responsive by shining a light on deficiencies and training needs.

    • Data on fora being used to spread messages of hate could be used by public authorities in engaging the private sector to take responsibility for the removal of such content.

  • Targeted outreach campaigns and programmes (e.g., education/media literacy programmes, media campaigns) to educate those who engage in hate speech, at least some of whom appear to be unaware of the illegality and impact of their activities, could be experimented with.

  • To ensure coherence and the protection of human rights and values enshrined in the Constitution, the Non-Discrimination Act and other legislation addressing discrimination and as recommended by ECRI, Finland could consider the possibility of criminalising the creation or leadership of group that promotes discrimination, support for such a group, or participation in related activities, while taking due consideration of the balance needed to guarantee freedom of expression within the boundaries of the law.

  • Public authorities could also introduce steps to ensure that public funding for CSOs is not awarded to groups that discriminate against sections of the population or espouse or promote racism.

  • Given the intention of the current government to tackle violence against women, it should seek to shore up long-term support and mandates for this purpose, including for the role of an independent rapporteur. An increase in funding would permit Finland to create and maintain a nationwide network of shelters and support centres in line with the current government programme.

  • Access to support services for minority groups such as women with disabilities, lesbians, transgender women, undocumented and non-registered migrants, Sámi women, and women with poor knowledge of Finnish could be improved via targeted research, outreach programmes and information to reduce barriers at the national and municipal level.

  • Sustained, mandatory training for police, prosecutors and judges dealing with violence against women (and girls), including sexual violence, is recommended.

  • Ensuring the necessary political will and prioritisation of spending on prevention and response measures to counter discrimination and violence against women, in relation to other areas of public spending, may be an ongoing challenge. Training for public officials, in particular within the Ministry of Finance, on Finland’s obligations arising out of international agreements, is recommended by civil society.

  • Civic education on human rights is fundamental to challenging intolerance, racism, discrimination and exclusion. Measures to introduce human rights into the school curricula are encouraging but may yield better results if delivered in a systematic manner, accompanied by standardised and compulsory teacher training, including to identify and avoid undetected teacher bias.

  • The Finnish government could commit to better addressing the concerns of the Sámi population regarding their status in Finnish society and their self-determination.

    • The government could engage in more sustained outreach to Sámi representatives on issues that they are affected by, in particular those related to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, traditional livelihoods (e.g., reindeer herding), social and healthcare, and wider legislative reforms concerning minority groups.

    • The government could consider amending the Sámi Parliament Act to ensure more powers of self-determination and commit to finding ways to enhance participation of the Sámi population in party politics, public decision making and judicial systems where they are sometimes under-represented, to ensure that their views are heard and taken into account.

    • The Sámi Language Act, which contains provisions on the right of the Sámi to use their own language when engaging with the courts and other public authorities, could be more strongly enforced to ensure that it is obligatory rather than seen as a guideline.

    • A greater effort could be made to introduce more information on Sámi history and their rich contribution to Finnish society into the national school curriculum to counter any negative attitudes or discrimination.

  • Institutionalised and intersectional assessments of how different population groups are affected by and experience policies, laws, programmes and initiatives can be highly instructive and are particularly important in the context of the recovery from COVID-19 to avoid exacerbating inequalities.

  • Rules regarding the right of peaceful assembly could be better understood in Finland. As a cornerstone of Finnish democracy and civic space, the right of assembly should be fully protected.

  • The government could take steps to ensure that politicians and political parties do not seek to influence media outlets or journalists:

    • There is a need to ring fence Yle’s independence and eliminate possible financial leverage of public officials over the national public broadcaster.

    • The government could commit to engaging with journalists, especially those working in large media outlets, to seek an understanding of the tangible ways in which political, institutional and economic pressures affect their work and take relevant actions to safeguard their independence.

  • Given the important contribution of freelance journalists to freedom of the press and wider societal debate, the government could consider financially supporting freelance journalist associations (e.g., the Association of Freelance Journalists in Finland) in times of uncertainty, economic crisis or recession to ensure they can continue to assist their members in maintaining and finding projects.

  • The government could could also seek to better understand the challenges faced by freelance journalists and those without the support of a media company (e.g., vulnerability to financial and health crises, lack of income stability, difficulty finding professional support in the face of external interference or harassment) and identify ways to support them.

  • Guidelines and best practices for the police and prosecutors with a focus on targeting of journalists (and other public figures) and using existing legislation to protect victims would fill a gap. The government could also appoint a police focal point(s) to provide advice to journalists.

  • The government could support journalism associations and human rights organisations that provide assistance to journalists facing hate speech and harassment with funding and other resources. In particular, it could consider financially supporting the Union of Journalists’ fund to cover legal and other expenses for those facing harassment.

  • Targeting of Internet intermediaries and social media sites to ensure they have community guidelines and take greater responsibility in moderating and removing illegal content would strengthen the government’s response.

    • In particular, the government could work with Internet intermediaries and social media platforms to make platforms safer by: (1) guaranteeing prompt response mechanisms for complaints; (2) incorporating tools that make reporting processes more user-friendly; and (3) investigating ways to minimise the impact of cyber-harassment and systemically revise policies to adapt to an ever-changing context.

  • Public officials could also assist media outlets in identifying illegal speech by providing training to website moderators on the Criminal Code and related case law, which would enable them to remove this content more effectively. The government could also consider:

    • Encouraging media outlets to adopt “think-twice policies” and placing an upper limit on the number of articles on which registered users can post comments in a short period of time, as a means of combatting trolls, bots, and spamming.

  • The government could take additional measures to increase training and capacity among the police to differentiate between protesters and journalists at demonstrations and ensure that they can report on them without interference or threat of arrest.

  • As the criminalisation of defamation can have a detrimental effect on journalism in particular, a review of the current legal framework surrounding defamation could be undertaken with a view to considering the alignment of laws with international standards in this area.

  • Given that a small number of companies dominate each media sector, the government could review the existing legal framework, which allows concentration in media ownership, and set additional transparency requirements for media companies.

  • While Finland already has several successful initiatives for combating fake news, the government could further strengthen Yle’s mandate related to tackling the spread of misinformation and disinformation and continuing to provide balanced debate.

  • There is a need to carefully consider Yle’s role as an objective public broadcaster in the face of new regional commercial media. The government could also commit to investigating whether Yle’s role is too broad or whether it is too closely affiliated to the state’s interest.

  • The government could ensure continued support to Finland’s media regulatory authorities and bodies, and in particular the Council for Mass Media, with sustained public funding or dedicated subsidies so that they can maintain their critical role in ensuring that media companies practice ethical journalism.

  • While Finland has a long-standing commitment to transparency, the government could review the remaining shortcomings of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities following the reforms process and ensure its full implementation through secondary legislation and practical guidelines for public bodies.

    • There is a need to more clearly define the appeals process and mandates of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice in relation to the Act on the Openness of Government Activities to ensure citizens are aware of the steps to take.

    • The government could commit to imposing sanctions on public officials and authorities that are found to have withheld or obstructed access to information for reasons not permitted in the law (e.g., outside of the stated timeframe).

  • The government could proactively disclose more information through its open data portal and create a centralised portal for all access to information requests to aid transparency and gathering of data. This would allow:

    • Public bodies to compile statistics and data on requests for information and see the most frequently requested information and proactively disclose similar documents.

    • Citizens to view previously requested information from each public body and follow the progress of their own requests.

    • Oversight bodies to track when deadlines are not respected and identify which ministries require additional resources.

  • Through the Ministry of Finance’s project on opening up and using public data, the government could commit to a whole-of-government approach to improving the transparency of decision-making as well as implementing more stringent practices for better information management.

    • This could include a government-wide information repository for all public bodies to enable more effective knowledge-sharing on related policy-making processes, as well as to encourage the exchange of good practices in managing, using, and sharing data and information across ministries and making them accessible and available for public reuse.

  • The government could explore the factors underlying the digital divide through its relevant working groups to find ways to bridge the gap for people excluded from the digital leap or who do not have access to the Internet or a strong connection.

    • Public officials could routinely test their digitalised public services with specific target groups (e.g., elderly, disabled persons, minorities) to ensure that they are comprehensible and accessible.

  • Regarding data privacy, the government could consider the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as an opportunity to explore grounds for innovations, to safely investigate and experiment within this framework rather than restrict potential solutions and to take a wider approach and consider good practices from other EU member states on their GDPR implementation.

  • The creation of a whole-of-government systematic approach to minimise the risks associated with increased collection of personal data and the compilation of data sets, which can threaten individual anonymity in sparsely populated areas of Finland, could be beneficial.

    • The government prioritised the protection of personal data in its track-and-trace mobile application and should continue to emphasise data privacy in any future proposals for digital solutions related to the COVID-19 recovery.

  • The government could implement new strategies to harness the beneficial powers of artificial intelligence (AI) for citizens, help navigate the AI-driven economic transition, and retain and strengthen trust in AI with the public interest at its core.

    • The establishment of a centre, office or advisory council for the ethical use of AI in public decision making with an institutionalised commitment to engaging with the public on any projects and strategies related to AI could be considered.

    • It is important to ensure that programmers and developers working in the public sector have the right skills, represent diverse demographics themselves, and are trained to recognise and counteract biases so that AI applications and products do not perpetuate unfairness and discrimination.

    • A clear commitment to increased accountability regarding the use of AI in the public sector is key, including by ensuring that the responsibility of public officials for oversight of such systems remains clear.

    • Regular, transparent communication to the public on this fast-changing area on the ways in which algorithms and automated decision making are being used in the public sector, acknowledging that the “Elements of AI” course is a successful starting point, may help to build trust.

  • Overall, the government needs to develop legislation governing the use of AI:

    • Finland has many programmes, policies and initiatives to advance its position in relation to AI (e.g., AuroraAI, “Elements of AI”), but its legislative framework lags behind its ambition and the speed with which the technology is developing.

  • To achieve Finland’s vision, the government needs to accompany any AI initiatives and new legislation with regular impact evaluations of automated and algorithmic decision making processes to evaluate their impact on the rights of individuals and communities.

  • The government acknowledges and appreciates the important role of civil society but could make an additional effort to engage the wide variety of CSOs, including both formal registered associations and informal networks, in operation in Finland.

    • Regarding the rise of the informal fourth sector, the central government could collaborate with municipalities to seek ways to support fourth-sector actors to work with the public administration on activities that are in the public interest by providing resources, whether financial or material (e.g., meeting spaces).

  • To enhance knowledge and skills amongst public officials, the government could commit to hosting the Civil Society Academy Day annually and complement the initiative by organising conferences, forums and debates at the central level on the changing roles of CSOs in Finnish society and how to best support and collaborate with CSOs in their activities.

  • The government could broaden the membership of KANE and ETNO to ensure they also include more civil society members, including small and medium CSOs, and those that have a watchdog or advocacy role.

  • The government could commit to taking a long-term view when considering the options outlined by the broad-based working group on the future of the Veikkaus system. As each potential solution poses its own challenges, the government should base its decision on which option will lead to the most fair, effective and sustainable model of funding for CSOs that will ensure continued support.

  • The government could consider the potential conflicts of interest due to the representation of beneficiaries of Veikkaus revenues on the Ministry of Interior’s Gambling Advisory Board and on Veikkaus Oy’s Supervisory Board, and whether risks could be reduced by directing gaming revenue to the state budget.

  • Given the large sums of public money involved, a more comprehensive and strategic approach to the distribution of all or a portion of the Veikkaus funding with high-level objectives that benefit society could support the government in understanding how funding is being used, whether the targets are being achieved, and the overall impact. The government could consider:

    • Reforming the Veikkaus funding system so that it can provide longer term funding to CSOs and establishing an all-encompassing evaluation system for Veikkaus funding for CSOs to better understand the impact of the funds.

    • Introducing a way for the Veikkaus system to retain a more substantial percentage of funding each year without the need to distribute all proceeds to all beneficiaries annually to create a safety net for beneficiaries against potential shocks in certain years.

  • To complement the ongoing efforts being made by the Ministry of Finance’s digitalisation of state funding project, the government could further enhance transparency by:

    • Creating a centralised application, process and recording system for CSOs seeking Veikkaus funding to identify to which CSOs and sectors are receiving funding and evaluate the effectiveness of their work;

    • Establishing a portal with the objective of maintaining quality standards across the three ministries (the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry for Education and Culture, and the Ministry for Health and Social Affairs) distributing Veikkaus proceeds.

  • The Ministry of Education and/or the Ministry of Finance could undertake a system-audit or evaluation and use this information in steering Veikkaus. This would also promote openness and transparency and highlight ways to make the system more effective by assessing the distribution and use of resources as well as their current oversight.

    • The NAO could also decide to audit the new system as an external auditor, independent from the executive, as is done for other companies with sufficient stakes in public funding.

  • Beyond the Veikkaus system, the government also provides funding to CSOs through an array of ministries. As acknowledged above, a more secure system that is less vulnerable to external shocks could help to develop a long-term solution to the issue of funding for CSOs.

    • Creating opportunities for and incentivising various kinds of funding (e.g., through tax incentives for individual donors, corporations, philanthropic foundations) for CSOs could reduce their dependence on the public purse.

  • Ministries could establish a feedback system for all applications to ensure that CSOs and other activist networks can learn from the process and improve for the next round and could also consider the creation of an operating model that ensures a regular dialogue between civic actors and funding counterparts (e.g. on the future direction of state grants, available support, guidance on reporting and evaluation).

  • As suggested in relation to Veikkaus funding, implementing a systematic way of evaluating and assessing all public funding of civic activities could support ministries in channeling funds in the most optimal ways. This could include:

    • Creating cross-ministerial guidelines on monitoring and evaluation of public funding for CSOs through ministries and promoting good practices, implementing quality standards and indicators at the national level for public funding applications, and obtaining a holistic overview of all public funding channeled to CSOs from the government to effectively assess the impact of financial flows to civil society.

  • Increased internal mobility to ensure that the same public officials are not making funding decisions regarding CSOs for years on end could improve trust in decision-making processes alongside an external or independent review of grant decisions by public officials in other departments.

  • The government could strengthen policy coherence at all levels of government by verifying that the activities of CSOs receiving public funding are aligned with the fundamental values outlined in the Constitution and relevant legal and policy frameworks.

  • Ongoing discussions regarding reforms to the Associations Act should focus on creating a simplified and fairer administrative system, particularly for smaller associations.

    • New regulations should consider the wide variety of association types in Finland and create a legal framework that is fit-for-purpose, by ensuring that smaller associations can flourish and contribute to Finnish society, and that digital technologies are fully utilised.

  • Many welcome reforms have been made regarding fundraising, including a provision of the Money Collection Act allowing smaller CSOs to fundraise up to EUR 20 000 annually. Public officials could launch awareness-raising campaigns to disseminate information on this reform and include advice on applying and qualifying for such funding.

  • The government could develop a holistic civil society strategy with concrete measures to engage with and support CSOs in the long term, while also protecting their autonomy.

    • This could include a concrete approach to safeguarding the role of certain CSOs – especially those in the health and social welfare sector – as service providers as well as protecting the ability of CSOs to influence policy and perform a watchdog role as independent organisations.

  • The government could consider allocating a larger share of current funding to innovation, experimentation and development projects with more flexible regulations, allowing a certain proportion of funding to be distributed with more freedom for CSOs to develop activities independently in line with overarching goals.

  • The government often encourages mergers of organisations doing similar work to eliminate duplication and while more efficient operations are welcome, there is also a need to review this approach to ensure that such mergers do not negatively impact the diversity of Finnish civil society.

  • The central government could encourage more innovative forms of public funding at the national level taking good practices from municipalities, such as the co-design of public grants in the City of Helsinki and the hybrid financing initiative in the City of Tampere.

    • Hybrid financing, which combines elements of participatory budgeting and crowdfunding, can encourage the participation of citizens in local development projects and can offer crucial financial support to smaller CSOs with less access to traditional funding routes.

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has impressive policy guidelines on promoting civil society through development co-operation, but there is a need to establish better information management systems (currently outdated) in order to collect and publish performance data.

    • Making data and statistics more available and more easily accessible through a centralised portal would allow support for civil society funding by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be evaluated systematically.

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could commit to furthering its assessment of development co-operation activities by committing to regular impact evaluations.

  • While levels of official development assistance have increased year-on-year, the budget line specifically for CSO funding has been decreasing. Within this context, the government could reprioritise civil society financing in development co-operation to focus on building up the capacities and autonomy of local partners.

  • Given adequate resources, the CSO-unit of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs could publish more information and guidelines on the application process in languages other than Finnish and Swedish to ease communication with external partners.

  • Implementing measures to ensure that the Ministry of Justice’s Legislative Drafting Process Guide and Legislative Consultation Guide are followed could help to ensure best practice across all ministries and avoid the current fragmented, uneven and siloed approaches.

  • Ensuring that civil society actors are routinely consulted on legislation, proposals and initiatives early in the process, in order to be able to influence them, and as part of an ongoing two-way exchange with relevant ministries, is essential to foster meaningful partnerships.

    • During the COVID-19 response and recovery period, the government could communicate more clearly (using multiple channels) on processes for involvement from civil society, both in relation to service provision and longer-term recovery planning.

  • A more transparent, co-ordinated and consistent approach to the choice of civil society actors consulted by different ministries would help to build partnerships and trust.

    • A cross-government approach or criteria for inviting stakeholders to join different consultation groups could be developed.

    • Data on which groups are selected for what purposes could also be published, to avoid any conflicts of interest and an overemphasis on consulting more established or powerful groups at the expense of smaller or newer groups. An accessible and easily searchable, centralised portal could be established for this purpose.

    • Quotas for CSO representatives on advisory boards and in other participation fora could help to ensure that non-governmental perspectives are adequately represented.

  • A structured initiative to share learning from the use of different engagement and consultation practices and tools across ministries and from municipalities to ministries could help to ensure high standards, to engage ministries that are less open to consultation, and to avoid the current uneven approach.

    • Regular impact evaluations of different tools, methods and experiments would help to improve understanding of what delivers value in relation to investments of resources, desired impact, representativeness and levels of satisfaction among those who participate.

  • Routine feedback loops for civil society actors who are consulted by government entities that acknowledge the multiplicity of inputs received could help to improve transparency and openness.

    • It is important to document how and why decisions were taken and how statements and views from diverse groups were assessed and taken into account. Ensuring the necessary resources to provide this kind of feedback from the outset of project planning and budgeting is essential.

  • There are great opportunities on the horizon to continue to develop the use of digital participation methods to engage civil society actors and members of the public in decision making, particularly in rural areas where participation in in-person meetings can be challenging. The Finnish national dialogues have proven that online dialogue and discussion with a broad range of people can be successful.

    • However, digital fora should complement, not replace, civil society participation in more traditional committees and working groups, which allow for longer term, direct and higher quality interaction with government authorities.

  • There is broad enthusiasm for engaging citizens more in decision making in Finland, but disagreement regarding how and the extent to which this should happen. A considered approach, with a focus on the quality, representativeness and legitimacy of participation efforts, is probably wisest.

  • As the central government and municipalities experiment with new participation methods for the general public, it is important to target and engage marginalised and typically under-represented groups in society, particularly in larger urbanised municipalities and cities.

    • Seeking to move beyond engaging the usual “stakeholders” and more active, better educated, self-selecting members of the public is key and will require strategies and targeted outreach, including to underrepresented groups.

    • A related effort to ensure that participation opportunities provide “safe spaces” for people to express their views as part of constructive discussions is also important and can be achieved with trained facilitators.

    • Personalised invitations and methods that involve discussion (e.g., participatory planning, hearings, citizen juries, panels), as opposed to one-way consultations (e.g., surveys, polls), and personal interactions and face-to-face meetings, appear to be more likely to yield positive outcomes.

    • The practice of co-planning and co-creation could be strengthened including at the national level in relation to flagship government pledges and priorities. The next government programme could, for example, be developed in partnership with members of the public as part of a more future-oriented, strategic approach that focuses less on solutions to problems and more on societal goals or targets.

  • Deliberative methods such as citizens’ panels or mini publics could be used more to engage the public on finding solutions to complex social issues. If developed in line with the OECD Good Practice Principles for Deliberative Processes for Public Decision Making, this would help to engage ordinary Finns and to channel their views into policymaking by drawing on the views of randomly selected participants.

  • A holistic approach to fostering civic participation recognises the links between social and economic inequality and people’s willingness or ability to engage with the state.

    • A focus on increasing people’s take up of, and satisfaction with, the existing participation opportunities available to them is key. Training for municipal workers on effective, inclusive and targeted participation methods could help to develop their skills and partnerships with suitably qualified third-sector organisations may help in this regard.

    • At the same time, efforts to develop more public consultation opportunities, by encouraging innovation and experimentation can be strengthened. A long-term, anticipatory planning approach is recommended in this regard.

  • CSOs’ living space has not been significantly reduced in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. In the context of the recovery, sustained engagement of the public and a wide range of civil society groups will be key to ensuring an inclusive, fair and sustainable approach to policy making.

    • Ongoing efforts to engage people in different languages (sign language, Sàmi languages, other minority languages) are essential.

    • Systematic consultation on the long-term recovery (as opposed to immediate responses to the pandemic), as well as lessons learned during the pandemic should inform planning.

  • A cross-government ethical or human rights-based framework to guide municipalities on engaging with civil society actors and the use of public buildings/spaces and funding would help to guarantee policy coherence.

  • Given global and national trends including populism, discrimination against certain groups, disinformation, hate speech, and the threat from extremist political groups and ideologies, coupled with the destabilising effect of global economic uncertainty, COVID-19 and pockets of inequality, support for core democratic systems and values in Finland should never be taken for granted.

    • It is important for the government to continue to shore up support for its inclusive civic space agenda to ensure its resilience; and to continue to experiment, innovate and invest in protecting and promoting civic space both at home and abroad.

  • It is important for the Ministry of Finance to share learning from this Scan widely, across government and with Finnish political parties with a view to building consensus about reform efforts. The findings from the citizens’ panel on hate speech and online harassment should have particular legitimacy and weight, and the recommendations should be disseminated widely, discussed publicly, and implemented.

    • The onset of COVID-19 has been extremely difficult but also presents an opportunity for longer-term strategic thinking, planning and reflexive learning as part of the recovery effort, including in relation to the protection of civic space and democracy.

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