Rural Policy
in Finland

Making rural areas visible in decision making

Generations of women.
95 %

of Finland's land area is rural.

1,6 milj.

people live in rural areas.

40 %

of all companies in Finland are situated in rural areas.

2,1 milj.

people are part-time residents in rural areas.

Three generations of women holding hands.

Finnish National Rural Policy in a nutshell

Rural policy is made by everyone who makes decisions that affects daily life and entrepreneurship in rural areas.

Making good rural policy requires the recognition of the diversity of rural areas. Rural areas are a mosaic of different areas, places, environments and communities.

The National Rural Policy Council, its Secretariat and thematic networks produce tools and information through research and development in order to enhance the presence of and increasing attention to rural-specific issues in political decision making.

The future is built in partnerships

A network structure is at the core of rural policy. Partnership is the key to advancing good rural policy. The national Rural Policy Council is appointed by the Government, with people (civil society), private and public representation.


The work within rural policy is based on place-based strategy. Rural policy emphasises civil society and bolstering of civil society participation in decision making.

Thematic networks are essential to the implementation of the duties appointed to the Rural Policy Council. Five (5) thematic networks have been appointed until the end of January 2021.

In a rural library

Knowledge through research and development

The Rural Policy Council publishes reports, blogs and policy briefs that aim to broaden public knowledge of rural-specific questions.

The Rural Policy Council finances research and development pertaining to national rural development. The funding is national and is disbursed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland.

Many research and development projects have published scholarly peer reviewed articles in international research journals.

The Rural Policy Council

The Rural Policy measures are undertaken in cooperation between ministries, regional agencies, municipalities and various NGO's related to the welfare of the rural population, rural businesses and rural development.

The Rural Policy Council has been appointed by the Government for the years 2016-2020. The Council consists of 35 members, representing all policy areas pertaining to everyday rural life and entrepreneurship.

The Rural Policy Council is led by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä. The Secretary General, Christell Åström, is responsible for the operative work and is the Head the Secretariat.

The Vice Secretary Generals are: research professor Hilkka Vihinen from the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) representing research, chairman Petri Rinne from the National Village Association (SYTY) representing civil society and Senior Officer Rural Affairs Hanna-Mari Kuhmonen from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, representing the public sector.

Senior Officer Rural Affairs Antonia Husberg at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is head of research and development and communications as well as the National Finnish Rural Parliament.

Rural Policy

Main objective

The main objective of the rural policy is to improve living conditions as well as possibilities for entrepreneurship in the countryside. Rural Policy emphasises civil society and bolstering of participation.

The National Rural Policy Programme (2014-2020) is the main plan of action, consisting of five themes that have been fleshed out with concrete measures, 63 in total. Each measure includes named actors responsible for its realisation. The themes and many of the measures require cooperation between actors at various levels of administration and society.

The themes are:

  • Participation and local democracy
  • Housing and services
  • Infrastructure and land use
  • Livelihoos and expertise
  • Ecosystem services

The rural policy measures undertaken in cooperation with the municipalities and various associations are targeted at all rural residents regardless of their occupation, age or gender.

The programme also includes an operational strategy for international cooperation of the rural policy network.

Work in practice

The implementation of the programme as well as the ten (10) duties appointed to the Rural Policy Council is based of the utilisation of the national as well as EU programme policy. The work consists of the undertakings of the Secretariat, the thematic networks, research and development projects, as well as local action groups and coordination projects.

Efforts are targeted on sparsley populated areas, digital development and infrastructure, employment, entrepreneurship and education, accessibility of services and involvement of civil society. Other main themes consist of Smart Villages, multilocal dwelling and place-independent living an work, women in rural areas and sustainable development.

The work is coordinated by the Secretariat from within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The Secretariat consists of the vice secretary generals, the Senior Officer on Rural Affairs Antonia Husberg, representatives from each thematic network, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the National Rural Network, the rural research organisation MUA ry, the National Village Association, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, the the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and ministries.

The work within the Secretariat is open for all. For more information on rural policy click below on blue space.

For more information about Finnish Rural Policy read this Slideshare.