26 March 2018

Leena Ilmola-Sheppard appointed special advisor in Finland

IIASA researcher Leena Ilmola-Sheppard has been appointed a special advisor to Finland’s Prime Minister’s Office as part of a new initiative to improve the country’s public services.



Ilmola-Sheppard’s appointment is part of the Toimi project, which aims to identify reform strategies for public services, for example to improve employment levels, healthcare, and housing, and decrease inequality. Working in conjunction with parliamentary representatives and partner organizations, experts will identify potential areas for change, to better inform political parties preparing for elections and terms in office.

In a recent UN report, Finland was named the world’s happiest country. Toimi project manager Liisa Heinämäki said that while Finnish wellbeing is an international success story, the country must be prepared for change in the future, and renewal and flexibility in the social security system is vital.

Ilmola-Sheppard will specifically be responsible for advising on the future wellbeing and health of Finnish citizens, using qualitative systems analysis tools developed as part of her work at IIASA to identify how public sector services can encourage people to have active and fulfilling lives. The values of citizens and society will be at the center of the system.

She describes the work as exploratory and says that using qualitative systems analysis methods in this way is a new angle and approach.

“I appreciate this opportunity to develop our qualitative systems analysis method further. Many of the policy problems are complex and qualitative by their nature. It is essential that we can provide some tools for decision makers in situations where we do not have data.  The growing uncertainty decreases opportunity to draw conclusions based on the past data. The Finnish government is really a pioneer in investing in these methods,” says Ilmola-Sheppard.

Ilmola-Sheppard is one of three experts appointed to the Toimi project. Research Director Essi Eerola will examine the financing of identified options, while Juho Saari will focus on reducing inequality.

Links & more information

The Toimi project
(in Finnish)

Finland Prime Minister's Office press release (in Finnish)

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Last edited: 26 March 2018


Leena Ilmola-Sheppard

Guest Emeritus Research Scholar Cooperation and Transformative Governance Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313