Towards zero climate emissions, zero waste, and one planet living — Testing the applicability of three indicators in Finnish cities

Olli Sahimaa, M. K. Mattinen, S. Koskela, M. Salo, J. Sorvari, T. Myllymaa, J. Huuhtanen, J. Seppälä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Circular economy and resource efficiency have recently gained enormous attention as solutions to global resource scarcity. Among other actors, cities are in a central position in putting these concepts into action. In Finland, the network of Finnish Sustainable Communities (FISU) encourages its member cities to adopt the principles of resource wisdom: zero climate emissions, zero waste and living within the Earth's carrying capacity. These targets of the cities are monitored through three indicators: greenhouse gas emissions, material loss and ecological footprint. In this study, we tested the applicability of these indicators for the city-level sustainability measurements. The results show that for greenhouse gas emissions, the accuracy of emission inventory varies in different sectors. However, greenhouse gas emissions are applicable for the periodical city-level follow-up towards climate neutrality. Concerning material loss, industrial waste as well as mining waste and excess soil dominate the results. Allocation of waste flows to different municipalities poses a challenge to interpretation of the results. Ecological footprint is a simple and understandable indicator for pointing out overconsumption, and it easily indicates the need for action. Nevertheless, the availability of local data for the calculations is limited. The indicator set can be used as background information for setting long-term visions and targets for a resource-wise city. The conclusions from indicator calculations should be translated into practical actions by setting a local action plan towards sustainability. The annual follow-up of these kinds of action plans requires supporting indicators in addition to the three indicators tested in this study. Several different city-level sustainability indicator frameworks from the literature should be utilized in defining the relevant additional indicators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-132
Number of pages12
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Ecological footprint
  • Greenhouse gas emission
  • Indicator
  • Material loss
  • Resource efficiency
  • Sustainability

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