The People and Planet conference is proud to present the following distinguished speakers.
Session 1 - Cross­ing boundaries to reach solu­tions


Ilona M. Otto

Ilona M. Otto holds the Professorship in Societal Impacts of Climate Change at the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz. She leads a research group focusing on Social Complexity and System Transformation. The group’s ambition is to use complex scientific theory and novel research methods to analyze social dynamic processes and interventions that are likely to spark rapid social changes necessary to radically transform the interactions of human societies with nature and ecosystem services in the next 30 years.

Dr. Kristine Belesova

Dr. Kristine Belesova is an environmental epidemiologist with expertise in climate change and planetary health. Her research interests concern the impacts of global environmental changes on child health and nutrition, monitoring of systems sustaining planetary health, development, and evaluation of transformative solutions for health and sustainability. Kristine currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health and Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Juha Pekkanen

Juha Pekkanen. I am currently a professor of public health at the University of Helsinki and a part-time research professor at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
During my career, I have worked in several fields of public health research. My current focus is on environmental health, especially microbes in the farms and in moisture-damaged homes, and their effects on respiratory health. I am running a project on climate change, indoor air, health, and cost-effective ways to improve the indoor environment.

Professor Suvi M. Virtanen

Professor Suvi M. Virtanen, MD, Ph.D., MSc (in nutrition) is one of the worldwide leading experts on the role of nutrition in the development of type 1 diabetes. She is responsible for nutrition in several large-scale epidemiological studies on the etiology of type 1 diabetes, allergies, and asthma such as Type 1 diabetes prediction and prevention birth cohort (DIPP) and TRIGR randomized clinical trial. She is chairing the Diet Committee in TEDDY Study together with prof. Jill M. Norris. Her group has in-depth expertise in nutritional epidemiology, maternal and childhood nutrition, and in developing and applying methods in longitudinal data collection and in environmental effects of diet. Virtanen leads a consortium "Food Step - a sustainable model for food services and early childhood education and care".

Liisa Rohweder

Liisa Rohweder, Ph.D. (Sustainable Development), CEO of WWF Finland, has over 30 years of experience in advancing sustainable development. Rohweder acts as a social influencer and speaker in Finland and internationally.

Ses­sion 2 - How  the en­vir­on­ment af­fects health


Liisa Tyrväinen

Liisa Tyrväinen works as a Research Professor at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and has long experience in interdisciplinary research work regarding amenity benefits of forests and other types of natural areas. Her work has a strong focus on outdoor recreation, nature-based tourism as well as measuring the health and social benefits of forests and other natural areas. She has studied the health and well-being benefits of forests for over 15 years in several national and international collaboration projects. She has published around 100 peer-reviewed publications, in all over 260 scientific publications (Google Scholar h-index: 40 (i10-index 83) and nr of citations is 10350. Her research team currently investigates, for example, the potentials of virtual nature environments in promoting health and well-being for different users, how management affects the restorative qualities of forests. Tyrväinen is a member of editorial boards of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening and International Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism journals and acts as a Deputy Chair of IUFRO, Division 6. Social aspects of Forests and Forestry. She is also a member of the board of directors at Metsähallitus leading management and utilization of state-owned lands in Finland as well as WWF Finland's board of governors.

Daniela Fecht

Daniela Fecht. I am a Lecturer in Geospatial Health at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.  My research focuses on two themes: 1) geographical variations in population health, with particular focus on urban systems; and 2) environmental and health inequalities. The priority of both research themes is to address the future challenges of environmental change and how adaptation and mitigation strategies can help to create fair and healthy places. Both themes are supported by the development of advanced geospatial methods to harvest and improve emerging information sources and explore spatial patterns of disease.

Kimmo Saarinen

Kimmo Saarinen. I am an adjunct professor of environmental ecology from southeastern Finland. My field of work varies from biodiversity to pollen, allergies, and human health, but plants and butterflies are of personal interest to me!

Jaana Laisi

Jaana Laisi is a general practitioner, MD, and environmental and sustainability scientist. She leads the HUMUS - Healthcare for a Sustainable future project at the Ecosystems and Environment research program at the University of Helsinki.

Ses­sion 3 - Cli­mate change and hu­man health 


Sirpa Pietikäinen

Sirpa Pietikäinen is a Finnish member of the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament since 2008. She is a former Finnish Minister of Environment (1991-1995). Her career at the Finnish parliament is extensive, ranging from the year 1983 to 2003. At the European Parliament, Ms. Pietikäinen is a member of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee and the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee as well as a substitute member of the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety Committee. A graduate from the Helsinki School of Economics, Ms. Pietikäinen holds MSc in Business and teaches university courses on negotiations theory and practices. She is active in several organizations, her positions of trust including Chairmanship of Mieli, Mental Health of Finland.

Markus Terho

Markus Terho is a corporate responsibility veteran, with over two decades in the industry. He has held several notable positions, among them, he has served as the global sustainability chief at Nokia. In his current role, at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, he leads the Sustainable Everyday Life program, which promotes the change towards a more sustainable life in two ways: by inspiring individuals to make sustainable choices in their everyday life and by helping companies develop competitive sustainable products and services.

Anna Hut­tunen

Anna Hut­tunen works at the City of Lahti as the project manager for sustainable mobility. She was also leading the UIA funded CitiCAP project. She is enthusiastic about improving walking and cycling conditions in her city, multimodality, and in general the low carbon mobility options available in cities. Her background is in social sciences and environmental and urban governance. She lived in Germany for several years and landed in Lahti three years ago.

Ses­sion 4 - Healthy and sustainable urban areas for hu­mans


Heikki Setälä

Heikki Setälä. I am a professor in urban ecosystem studies. My main research focuses on the various ecosystems services that urban greenspaces provide, such as pollution removal, stormwater retention, biodiversity, and climate change mitigation.

Aki Sinkkonen

Docent (Environmental Ecology) Aki Sinkkonen is a Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland. He has developed biodiversity interventions for urban dwellers, jointly with his team at the University of Helsinki, and collaborators at Tampere University. His studies are among the first to reveal how yard greening shapes environmental and commensal microbiota and modifies immune response among urban dwellers.

Saara Vauramo

Saara Vauramo is the Programme Director at the Lahti - European Green Capital 2021 and holds a Ph.D. in environmental sciences. Vauramo has dedicated her career to sustainable urban development utilizing research, the latest digital technologies, strategic thinking, and transdisciplinary cooperation between business, political decision-makers, and citizens.

Hannamari Jaakkola

Hannamari Jaakkola is a Global Market Manager for Urban Weather and Environment solutions at Vaisala. Vaisala is a global leader in environmental and industrial measurements providing observations for weather and environmental monitoring in various fields, such as meteorology, air quality, transportation and industries. Hannamari has worked in various expert positions for environmental and air quality monitoring. In her current role she is extensively working with cities to develop new innovations – how to best monitor our environment and create means to protect it.

Ses­sion 5 - Les­sons learned from COVID-19 pan­de­mic


Tarja Sironen

Tarja Sironen is an assistant professor of emerging infectious diseases at the Helsinki One Health network. Sironen studies zoonotic diseases and the reasons for new infectious diseases' emergence.

Jere Reijula

Jere ReijulaI am a pulmonologist at the HUS hospital in Porvoo. I work with all kinds of lung patients, including asthma, allergy, and lung cancer as well as Covid-19 patients. During the first wave of the pandemic, I worked in the pulmonary ward in Meilahti, where many of the first Covid-19 patients were treated. My doctoral dissertation was related to smoking, and my later research has focused on asthma, allergies, and recovery from Covid-19, among other topics. Climate change and biodiversity play a central role in our health, including lung health.

Davey Jones

Davey Jones holds a Professorial Chair in Soil and Environmental Science at Bangor University and a Professorial Chair position at Murdoch University, Australia. A major focus of his research is on understanding below-ground processes with a specific focus on nutrients and human pathogen behavior in water-food-soil-plant-microbial systems. Recently, he has applied these approaches to the detection of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and other pathogenic viruses in the environment with the aim of preventing viral outbreaks and protecting public health.

Annina Ropponen

Annina Ropponen is a research professor of solutions for work loading. Strong experience of longitudinal, epidemiological research of sickness absence and disability pension, but also on working hours and recently on remote work.

Ses­sion 6 - Clean wa­ters and hu­man health


Matthew White

Matthew White is an environmental psychologist interested in how built and natural environments affect people's mental health and well-being.

Tarja Pitkänen

Tarja Pitkänen is an Associate Professor in the field of Environmental Health at the University of Helsinki as a part of HOH Helsinki One Health Network. She is co-affiliated at Water Microbiology Laboratory, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), where she works as a Chief Specialist. Her research interests involve molecular detection and the characterization of health-related microbes and zoonotic pathogens in water.

Kati Vierikko

Kati Vierikko is a docent in urban ecology and works as a senior researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). She is an experienced biologist and environmental scientist studying social-ecological-technological urban systems (SETS). Her research has focused on ecosystem services, nature-based solutions, and biocultural diversity of urban green infrastructure.

Ses­sion 7 - Sustainable and healthy food sys­tems


Bodo Steiner


Bodo Steiner is Professor of Food Economics & Business Management, Head of the research group Management & Organizations For Sustainable Food Systems, Deputy Director at the Department of Economics and Management, University of Helsinki, and Coordinator of  MATS, a research and innovation action project, funded by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

He is affiliated with the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (URBARIA), the Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ), the InterTran Research Group for Sustainable Law and Business at the University of Helsinki (INTERTRAN), the Sustainable Change Research Network (SUCH) the Finnish Organic Research Institute, the Task Force of the Finnish National Food Research Strategy, and serves as an advisory board member for the Institute for the Economy for the Common Good, and as a member to the Environmental Footprint Technical Advisory Board of the European Commission.

He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Reading and has previously held faculty and visiting appointments at the University of California Berkeley, University of Alberta, University College Cork, University of Southern Denmark, University of Kiel, and Beijing Normal University.

His recent research and teaching interests focus on mixed methods to address organizational sustainability, in particular social capital, social sustainability in food systems and value chains, and circular economy strategies. His work has been published by MIT PressThe Economist, and journals including Ecological Economics, Journal of Cleaner Production, Regional Studies, European Journal of Political Economy, Food Policy, Economic Record, European Journal of Marketing, and the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics.

Hanna Mattila

Hanna Mattila works as an expert in sustainable food systems and sustainable land use in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Mattila is responsible for the implementation of the Climate Food Program.

Anne-Maria Pa­jari

Anne-Maria Pa­jari. I work as an Associate Professor of Molecular Nutrition at the University of Helsinki. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of diet and diet-derived compounds on the health and prevention of chronic diseases. Studies on plant bioactives and protein nutrition have led to broader considerations on the connection of dietary habits and health to sustainability. I currently lead a multidisciplinary research consortium (www.leg4life.fi) on the role of legumes in promoting health and a more sustainable food system in Finland.

Minna Kaljonen

Minna Kaljonen is a research professor at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). 
Her research focuses on environmental governance and sustainability transitions. She is currently leading a transdisciplinary research project (www.justfood.fi) on just food system transition. She is devoted to developing experimental and action research methods in finding just solutions to sustainability problems.



Tari Haahtela

Session 1 - Crossing Boundaries to Reach Solutions

Dr. Tari Haahtela is professor emeritus of clinical allergology at the University of Helsinki. He is the former Head of Skin and Allergy Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital. He has chaired the Finnish Asthma Programme in 1994-2004 and the Allergy Programme in 2008-2018. His group has studied the environmental and lifestyle determinants of allergy and asthma In the Finnish and Russian Karelia. The results led to the biodiversity hypothesis of allergy and health in general.

Jaana I. Halonen

Session 2 - How the Environment Affects Health

Currently, Dr. Halonen is a research programme director at National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), coordinating the programme Safe and health-promoting environment as well as work on climate change and health and wellbeing. She has earlier work experience as a researcher/environmental and occupational epidemiologist from Harvard School of Public Health (on the effects of outdoor temperature on health), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (on various topics, incl. home neighbourhood characteristics and health), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (on health effects of traffic-related air pollution and noise) and Stockholm University’s Stress Research Institute (on work stress as well as home and workplace neighbourhoods and health).

Eeva Fur­man

Session 3 - Climate Change and Human Health

Eeva Furman is the director of the Environmental Policy Center at the Finnish Environment Institute (www.syke.fi). Her background is in marine biology, and for the last twenty years, she has researched and developed environmental governance, biodiversity governance, sustainable development and planetary health. Her core interest is science-policy-society, co-creation of sustainability transformations as well as active citizenship. She has strong international networks and engages actively with science and society. She co-authored The Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) with 14 other scientists – the report was handed to the heads of UN’s member states in the general assembly held in September 2019. She has been chairing Finland´s expert panel for sustainable development since 2016. 

Ian Mac­Gregor-Fors

Session 4 - Healthy and Sustainable Urban Areas for Hu­mans 

Ian was recently appointed Professor of Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystems at the University of Helsinki. His research mainly focuses on untangling the response of wildlife communities to anthropogenic ecological disturbances with an important focus on birds. Most recently, he started to develop bio-physical information on the city-wide scale, which together with a team of colleagues, are seeking to transform into systemic urban management and planning tools with a strong social component.

Seppo Koskinen

Session 5 - Les­sons Learned from the COVID-19 Pan­demic 

Seppo Koskinen is a research professor at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, directing the Research Programme Challenges and solutions to population health and welfare. He is the principal investigator of several large research projects on public health, functioning and well-being of the population and its subgroups.

David Thomas

Session 6 - Clean Wa­ters and Hu­man Health 

Recently started at the University of Helsinki, although had an association with research in Finland since 1986 when I first came as a PhD student. I am a marine biologist who in the last decade has widened my horizons to look at biogeochemical processes in the hydrological continuum from freshwaters through to coastal waters. Much of my other work has been focused on biogeochemical processes in the Arctic and Southern Oceans and the Baltic Sea - especially associated with sea ice.

Juha-Matti Kata­jajuuri

Session 7 - Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems

Juha-Matti Katajajuuri works as an experienced Senior Research Scientist and Senior Customer Manager at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). He has more than 20 years of experience in the field of sustainable food production and consumption, originally in life cycle assessment science, development and application of LCAs, but later on with a broad range of topics within sustainability in the food system, packaging, consumption and consumer research, circular economy and food waste and as linked to corporate social responsibility. He has published 25 peer-reviewed publications in the field. In addition to the research work, he is well-known science-based communication spoke person, with popularization skills in the food chain sustainability scheme. His societal impact is also achieved through active food company research collaboration and food system sustainability and eg. carbon footprinting contract work for companies. He has been nominated in many national food and sustainability-related Programmes and Committees, eg. the National Nutrition Council, the Development of the Finnish Strategic Circular Economy Programme, the National Plastics Road Map and the Finnish Environmental Labelling Committee.