Strong and trusted institutions along with supportive social systems have long been the hallmark of the Nordic countries, with Finland exemplifying these values through its continued progressive policy agenda. This is clearly having an impact. After falling from 14th to 17th last year, Finland has rebounded to 15th in this year’s report. In March, the county was named the happiest country in the world by the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Not only is it the happiest, it is also the safest, freest and least affected by organised crime. Another recent study on citizen trust showed that more than four in five Finns trusted other Finns, highlighting the societal cohesion within the nation. Occupying a somewhat delicate geographic position, Finnish leaders have also successfully cultivated relationships with Russia and the West. President Niinisto has continued to demonstrate a level-headed approach to international relations, acting as a go-between for global leaders and hosting the upcoming summit between Presidents Trump and Putin.
Government effectiveness remains Finland’s strongest asset along with the rule of law, low corruption, education, and high investment in research, development, and innovation. Coupled with a globally renowned national quality of ‘sisu’ (strength or perseverance for a challenging task), and leadership on environmental issues, Finland has successfully cultivated an enviable reputation as a responsible and practical-minded country with a clear vision for positive global change. Increasing Enterprise, Engagement and Culture scores also indicate structural efforts to make the country more attractive.
Last year we explained that Finland’s challenge was not a lack of soft power assets, rather its ability to communicate and connect them to international audiences. A nation branding strategy led by the government has provided a platform for the country to engage with the world, but it will take time and the effective use of digital channels, influencers and other mediums to ensure these messages are able to reach their intended audiences.
As with other Nordic countries, Finland is blessed with strong national identity and vision, and a progressive and effective civic society. To continue moving up the SP30 rankings, it should now start to carve out its own reputation through identifying and communicating specific aspects that make it different.