Sustainability as a basic principle for legislation: a case study of drafting laws in Finland

  • Eelis Paukku University of Lapland


Sustainability is most often defined through three dimensions: environmental, economic, and social. In legislative acts, environmental sustainability is often pursued directly, whereas the other two are pursued indirectly or not at all, depending on which definition of sustainability is used. This study includes a literature review about "sustainability" as a concept and a case study about using this concept in Finnish legislation and preparatory materials. This study aims to establish what type of conceptualization of sustainability is used in Finnish law drafting and what types of roles the different sustainability dimensions have in the preparatory materials in Finland. This study shows that sustainability is too unclear of a goal to be directly pursued with legislation. Instead of incorporating sustainability, generally speaking, as the object of every legislative act, it is recommended that separate policy goals that promote individual aspects of sustainability are pursued with individual laws.

Original Papers