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In 2018, Helsinki was a finalist for the Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award for its program to integrate young immigrants into the community. The award elevates city-led strategies that most successfully engage citizens to help create and implement solutions to pressing local problems. To ensure that the fast-growing immigrant youth population was well integrated, Helsinki used a human-centered design approach to rapidly prototype, pilot, and implement citywide programs and services.

Mayor Vapaavuori manages a resident-oriented city, and includes the principles of participation, such as utilizing of individuals and community expertise and enabling spontaneous activities, in the administrative regulations. Helsinki residents participate extensively in the development of services, through resident and user panels as well as providing feedback through various formal channels. The city supports spontaneous activities through subsidies and by making space available to residents and community groups. The mayor believes that a better Helsinki is built together with the people.

Mayor Jan Vapaavuori

Jan Vapaavuori became the Mayor of Helsinki in 2017. He champions Helsinki as the “most functional city in the world” with a focus on sustainable growth, digitalization, and creating the best possible conditions for happy everyday city life. Prior to being elected mayor, Mr. Vapaavuori worked as Vice President of the European Investment Bank and had an extensive career in Finnish national politics as Minister of Economic Affairs, as Minister of Housing and as a Member of Parliament. Mr. Vapaavuori also has a long-standing career with the City of Helsinki as Member of the Helsinki City Council and as the chairman of the City Board.

Head of Unit of Participation and Citizen Information Johanna Seppälä

Johanna Seppälä heads the department of Participation and Citizen Information, which coordinates participation, produces participatory methods for employees, and prepares matters related to participation for the Mayor and the City Board. The Unit has initiated a model for regional participation, in order to strengthen the possibilities of equal participation in Helsinki.

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