Finland has come far during the past 100 years. When Finland gained its independence in 1917 it was one of the poorest countries in Europe. Today Finland is one of the most successful nations in the world. We have examined Finland’s past in the previous 11 parts of this series. Now it is time to look into the future and imagine how Finland will be in 2117.
In 2117, Finland is an innovative land of solutions, solving some of the biggest challenges facing the earth. Many other nations around the world, and especially developing countries, will benefit tremendously from these solutions. Finland is a highly educated country that has a reliable infrastructure. In addition to major centers, Finland boasts some of the last true wilderness in Europe. Finland is the most densely forested country in Europe, and there are 187,888 lakes. These characteristics enable Finland to solve global challenges related to sustainability, food security, fresh water and health.
Already now, in 2017, Finland has taken major steps to address the future challenges. Strategic foresight and futures thinking has been mainstreamed into the work of the Finnish government. Finland is the only country in the world that has a Committee for the Future in its parliament. The committee’s mission is to generate dialogue with the government on major future problems and opportunities. In 2016, Finland implemented a new school reform that will prepare children better for the future society. In 2017, Finland started a regional 2-year experiment on universal basic income in order to find new ways to reshape the social security system.
Wise use of energy and raw materials is one of the most important development areas of the next century. Our societies will become resource efficient and shift from wasting energy, raw materials and other resources towards conserving them and using them in a smart way. Finland is a worldwide leader of circular economy and resource wisdom. The country has created new materials from wood and developed renewable fuels. During the next century, traditional building materials can be replaced with advanced materials made from wood fiber and other renewable sources. Fossil fuels may be completely replaced, for example, with solar power or small fusion reactors.
Ensuring access to clean water is one of the biggest challenges of the future. Water will become a significant strength for Finland. The country is home to a great deal of fresh water, and Finns have developed advanced technology to process and treat it. During the next hundred years, using solar energy to transform sea water into clean fresh water will become commonplace. Furthermore, nanotechnology will enable people to collect water directly from the air.
Another major challenge is sustainable food production. Oats is a Nordic superfood that is one of the most ecological crops in the world. Finns have developed meat substitutes out of oats and broad beans that will address the need for a global reduction in meat intake. A new agricultural revolution will lead to indoor farming that can be up to hundred times more efficient than traditional farming. This means that, in theory, a small part of Southern Finland could produce enough food for all humanity.
In the future, people will live even longer thanks to revolutionary new methods for healing diseases and maintaining health. Doctors can use stem cell technology to create new body parts from a person’s own stem cells and 3D manufacturing technology to create individualized prosthetic limbs equipped with a sense of touch. In the coming decades, healthcare’s main focus will shift from preventing diseases to promoting good health. Finland has developed ample technology, like wearable sensors, in this area.
Finland has traditionally been a worldwide leader in adopting new technologies. During the next 100 years, new forms of travel, such as self-driving cars and Hyperloop, will become the new normal, and robots will do most of the manual labor. The changing labor market might lead us to tax raw materials and energy instead of work. Virtual and augmented reality, as well as the Internet of Things, will change our everyday lives dramatically, but new technologies will give people more time and possibilities to be themselves.
Finland is ready to innovate and find solutions to our global challenges. The country is already embracing circular economy, a new economic model in which consumption is based on sharing, renting and recycling services instead of owning things. There are plenty of examples of this new way of thinking ranging from utilizing forestry by-products to recovering food waste and transforming Helsinki’s public transportation network into a comprehensive, point-to-point "mobility on demand" system that could make private car ownership unnecessary. Finland has the energy of a young country and the right mindset to reinvent itself and to keep on succeeding during the next 100 years.