OECD Territorial Reviews: Helsinki, Finland 2003

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The Greater Helsinki Region emerged from the 1990s as an internationally competitive economy. This review examines the factors contributing to this success and the new development challenges it has created. One critical policy question is the Finnish dependence on the telecom/mobile industry. The current strategic positioning of the Finnish ICT cluster builds on a high-return/high-risk scenario. Long-term regional competitiveness requires a more focused strategy of diversification, i.e. developing ICT activities beyond the current cluster scope. Social inclusion is another crucial issue. Persistent unemployment among the less educated population and growing income disparities are calling for the restructuring of past policies. The Greater Helsinki Region needs to find ways to promote new opportunities of social cohesion. Rapid population growth has resulted from greater economic competitiveness requiring renewed commitment to managed growth and compact development. All of these challenges create needs for greater metropolitan co-ordination that are examined in turn.

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Urban Governance and Metropolitan Co-ordination

The system of constraints and opportunities for cities is changing. The pressures exerted by the state, and by the whole society, toward uniformity and homogenisation have become less distinct. At the same time, local authorities in Europe have to face changes brought about by integration, economic globalisation, individualisation, growth pressures of conurbations, state restructuring, and competition. Within cities, problems and priorities are beginning to be articulated differently from those that exist for the rest of the country. Actors’ interests, perceptions, and strategies are diverging. Redrawing the boundaries of the political playing field has the direct or indirect effect of repositioning cities, especially the largest of them, within states. Close links, developing transversely with other European cities and vertically with the EU, have impacts on the way city councils organise. Elected representatives – especially the most important of them, the mayor or equivalent – are being given a more important role in representing the city to the outside world and in building links between interests...

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