About Arctic Dreams and Realities

HELSUS Brown Bag Lunch seminar series for spring 2018 is starting on Fri March 16th, at 11.30-12.30 o’clock in HELSUS Hub, Porthania 2nd floor!

The series begins with the presentation of the new HELSUS professor on Indigenous Sustainabilities, Reetta Toivanen, whose talk is titled ”About Arctic dreams and realities”. 

Join us for lively discussions and an opportunity to meet colleagues!


Reetta Toivanen (PhD 2000 at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) has been just recently nominated as the professor of sustainability sciences (indigenous sustainabilities). She is the consortium leader of ALL-YOUTH research funded by the Strategic research council at the Academy of Finland and the vice-director of the Academy of Finland’s Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie). She is docent in social and cultural anthropology at the Universities of Helsinki and Eastern Finland and a non-resident research fellow at the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI). Outside of academia, she is the president of the Finnish Human Rights League and member of European Commission against Racism and Intolerance in respect of Finland. Her recent books include Towards Openly Multilingual Policies and Practices Assessing Minority Language Maintenance Across Europe, Multilingual Matters 2016 (written together with J. Laakson, S. Spiliopoulou-Åkermarkin & A. Sarhimaa,  and Linguistic Genocide or Superdiversity? Multilingual Matters 2016, (edited together with J. Saarikivi).

The new dynamics of deforestation in Brazil

In the second seminar Associate Professor Markus Kröger presents the current dynamics of deforestation, forest degradation, and sustainability of forest and forestry policies in different parts of Brazil. The focus is at presenting the findings from fresh field research in 2017-2018 on the different causes of rising deforestation in different regions. 

The example of the iconic Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve in Acre illustrates the power of cattle-ranching as the key driver of deforestation, even inside conservation areas. The politics of the rapidly expanding "sustainable logging cooperatives" - which have serious impacts on forest degradation, and do not typically deliver their promises - in the multiple-use conservation areas of the Santarém region in Pará are discussed to illustrate how the powerful illegal loggers still operate and take over many developmental schemes.

Finally, the role of Finnish and Brazilian forestry industry in continuing deforestation and expansion of eucalyptus plantations through practices that include illegal land grabbing and violence in Bahia are discussed based on field research in the area since 2004. The politics that aim to create sustainable forest policies, and offer alternatives, are also discussed.


Markus Kröger is an Associate Professor and Docent in Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, the focus area of the tenure track position being the study of the political economy of development and natural resource extraction. Most of his research has focused on investment politics around large-scale projects in the forestry and metal industries, including the study of state-corporate-civil society relations, particularly in South America and India. He is the author of Contentious Agency and Natural Resource Politics (2013), and has published several papers on the sustainability of forest and forestry policies in different countries.

Cooperatives and Sustainability - A Legal Perspective

Discussion on corporate social responsibility (CSR) has focused primarily on corporations, which are undeniably the most significant non-state market actors. There are, however, several other business forms, which also deserve attention and especially cooperatives have shown great potential as platforms for sustainable business operations.

The purpose of the cooperative is to promote the aggregate welfare of its members as consumers, providers and/or workers and simultaneously to carry concern for the community within which it operates. Therefore, one can argue that cooperatives, unlike corporations, truly support sustainable development and researchers should pay much more attention towards them.

The purpose of LL.D., Docent Ville Pönkä’s presentation is to introduce the cooperative form from a lawyer’s perspective and to describe how they differ from corporations. In addition he focuses on the question of how cooperatives facilitate sustainable development – in theory and practice. Pönkä’s presentation is based on his book chapter titled “The Cooperative as a Driver for Change”, which will be published later this year in the “Cambridge Handbook of Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Sustainability”.


LL.D., Docent of Civil Law and Commercial Law Ville Pönkä is a Senior Lecturer and a MDP Director at the UH’s Faculty of Law. Pönkä’s main fields of research include company law, cooperative law, contract law and arbitration. Pönkä has also a strong focus on sustainable development and currently he is studying the cooperative business form as a “driver for change”. Pönkä is a member of several international scholarly communities such as the European Corporate Governance Institute, the European Consortium for Political Research, the Nordic Company Law Network, the UK Society for Co-operative Studies – and the HELSUS.

Sustainable food systems – the potential of future food production technologies

Food systems are facing the challenge of sustaining the production of nutritious food to the growing population under the changing environmental conditions. Novel food production technologies, such as vertical farming and cell-culturing based protein production (i.e. cellular agriculture) have gained wide interest in the past years as potential solutions for improving the sustainability of food systems. The concept of cellular agriculture covers technologies that produce agricultural products by using tissue engineering and cell cultivation processes. The applications of cellular agriculture that are currently under development include cultured meat (i.e. in vitro meat or lab-grown meat), yeast-derived milk (YDM) and eggs, animal-free gelatine, cultured plant cells and protein produced by microbes. This talk presents the environmental challenges that food systems are facing, introduces novel food production technologies and discusses their potential to improve the sustainability of food systems in the future.

Dr Hanna Tuomisto is a HELSUS Associate Professor in the field of Sustainable Food Systems, at the Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki. Her research interests include the interaction between environmental changes and food systems, and especially how novel food technologies could contribute to the sustainability of food systems in the future. Hanna holds a master degree in agroecology from the University of Helsinki and a PhD degree from the University of Oxford. She gained postdoctoral researcher experience by working at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Before the appointment to the current post, she worked as a senior researcher at the Ruralia Institute, University of Helsinki.

3 x Nudging: Nudging individuals and companies into sustainable behavior

Ellen Eftestol-Wilhelmsson: Nudging as a regulatory tool

Law and regulation is a strong tool for behavioral change, including the wanted behavioral change needed to combat climate change. Whereas an increased amount of businesses are changing their behavior behavior and include environmental and ethical issues into their day to day decisions, and even base their business idea on these values, many businesses are not doing what is needed in order to reach climate goals. I my presentation I reflect on how law and regulation could be utilized to push industry to make the right, environmental friendly decisions. I particularly focus on private law, which so far has been  considered a "neutral" tool available for the parties to fulfill their business transactions, and how environmental information should be integrated in the private law toolbox.

Ellen Eftestol-Wilhelmsson is Professor of Civil- and Commercial law at the Universities of Helsinki and Oslo and Head of the InterTran Reserach Group for Sustainable Business and Law, University of Helsinki.


Michiru Nagatsu: Nudging sustainable behavior: some philosophical problems and a solution

Since it’s birth in 2008 (Thaler and Sunstein), the idea of nudges as a policy instrument to steer people into more rational behavior has become popular in academia and policy circles. However, critics have pointed out difficult methodological, conceptual and ethical problems of nudge paternalism. In this talk, I will sketch a framework in which nudges are construed on a par with economic incentives, and thus are as legitimate as the latter. This framework, building on an ecological view of rationality, will solve some of the problems of nudge paternalism and help policy makers to integrate nudges with incentives, a more well-established policy tool. I will close by discussing some implications for green nudges.

Michiru Nagatsu is a HELSUS associate professor (methodologies of inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability sciences) at Practical Philosophy, Faculty of Social Sciences. Michiru is also an Academy Researcher with the project "Model-building Across Disciplinary Boundaries: Economics, Ecology, and Psychology" (2016-2021). His interests include using philosophy of emotions, philosophy of economics, and behavioral economics for better policy for pro-social behavior, as well as liveable urban design.


Eva Heiskanen: Nudge as a policy tool for sustainable consumption?

Behavioural economics and the concepts of ‘nudges’ and ‘better choice architectures’ have raised significant enthusiasm in policy circles. Greater behavioural insight can certainly improve existing policy making, but there are also expectations that ‘nudges’ can be used as new and powerful policy tools to promote sustainable consumption. In my talk, I critically consider the potential of nudges for sustainable consumption policy, given the scale of the challenge to decarbonize and dematerialize Western consumption. From a very practical policy-implementation perspective, I consider to what extent and how the issues of scalability, contextuality and administrative burden inherent to using nudges might be solved in order to employ nudges effectively and in proportion to the scale of the sustainability challenge.

Eva Heiskanen is Professor at the University of Helsinki Consumer Society Research Centre and a member of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Development.

Needs-based conceptualization of sustainable wellbeing

Tuuli Hirvilammi will explain in her talk why needs matter in sustainability transition and how sustainable wellbeing can be conceptualized. She will also briefly present her plans for a transdisciplinary study on sustainable need satisfiers.

Tuuli Hirvilammi is an expert in sustainable wellbeing research with background in public policy. After defending her PhD at the University of Helsinki in 2015, she has worked as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. She has published on sustainable wellbeing, ecosocial policies and post-growth economy.


Women of the Arctic: Learning how to bridge policy, research, and lived experience

With the 2018 IPCC report now released and the #MeToo movement pushing forward, issues relating to the ‘Arctic’ and ‘gender’ continue to maintain unprecedented traction in mainstream discourse. At the same time, global conferences and summits with dedicated spaces for discussion on the Arctic — from environmental to change to resource extraction — and gender-related issues seem to be blossoming. Still, initiatives focusing specifically on the role of Arctic women — the successes they achieve and the challenges they face — remain few and far between. With the aim of changing this discourse, a group of scholars,Tahnee Prior from the University of Waterloo, Gosia Smieszek of the University of Lapland, Reetta Toivanen of HELSUS, and Outi Snellman of the University of the Arctic, brought together women from across the Arctic at the 2018 UArctic Congress, held at the University of Helsinki, on September 6th and 7th.

Our event, “Women of the Arctic: Bridging Policy, Research, and Lived Experience” sought to carve out a non-academic space for women and girls who work on or live in the Arctic to explore the roles and contributions of women to northern policy-making, research, exploration, art, activism, and daily life. During this brown bag lunch talk, I will build on existing academic efforts in Arctic studies to showcase how events like “Women of the Arctic” and “Toward an Arctic Women’s Summit”, our follow-up event at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, have created spaces for women from across all Arctic states — indigenous and non-indigenous, working in the public and private sector — to discuss concrete issues relating to policy-making and leadership, polar science and exploration, access to justice, gender equality, intergenerational trauma, and gender-based violence. I will also share how we are collaborating with artists and creative communications collective, What Took You So Long, to maintain a long-term focus on issues relating to women and gender in the Arctic.

Tahnee Prior is a Ph.D. Candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo, and currently, a visiting researcher at HELSUS. She holds a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Her doctoral work in global environmental governance examines the role of legal systems in maintaining or preventing our ability to adapt to rapidly changing and complex environments, like the Arctic.

Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks: A cross-national study of domestic climate politics

The 2015 Paris Climate Accord obliges signatories to set out how they intend to meet their own nationally determined emissions reduction targets. National policies and domestic political actors are therefore now firmly front and centre in how the global community has agreed to address climate change. Consequently, understanding domestic climate politics and the differences between countries’ policymaking processes is more important than ever.

Despite this, comparative studies that attempt to explain cross-country similarities and differences are very rare. The 20+ country comparative research project Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks (see compon.org) is providing much-needed scientific research on the critical topic of the social and political bases of domestic responses to climate change. It investigates (1) Why have some countries adopted more ambitious policies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions than others?, and (2) What is the role of domestic interorganisational policy networks in shaping national policy pathways and choices? The project’s research questions are addressed by analyzing the policy beliefs of domestic political actors, the activities of these acrors and the relationships among them, the influence of science and those who produce scientific research, the role of collaborative institutions and policy forums, and the political opportunity structures within and across countries.

Paul Wagner is a post-doc level HELSUS fellow. His research involves the application of network methods to the study of climate politics and the policymaking process. Wagner works on the Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks project – an international comparative research project seeking to explain the variation in national responses to climate change.

Facts, beliefs and definitions: About representations of invasive alien species in science and policy

Alien species (also referred to as neobiota, foreign, exotic, introduced, non-indigenous, or non-native species) are generally described as species occurring outside their natural range as a result of the intentional or accidental introduction by humans. When such a species not only ‘arrives’ and ‘survives’ but also ‘thrives’ (i.e. increases in numbers and outcompetes native species) they are called invasive alien species (IAS). The metaphors for describing the introduction, impacts, and management of alien species are numerous and often quite outspoken (e.g. invasional meltdown and explosive growth). While these metaphors may be employed to create a sense of urgency in view of the serious damage which IAS may inflict on ecosystems, they are also linked to certain value choices about what matters in nature protection and management. As such, they represent one particular outlook while others may be overlooked. For example, how introduced and invasive species are considered by the general public when valuing natural environments remains poorly understood. In this talk, Laura will (1) recount some insights from her PhD research on risk assessment and risk management of alien species, and (2) propose an interdisciplinary approach to investigate citizens’ and policy perspectives of IAS in the face of global change.

Laura Verbrugge is a postdoctoral researcher at HELSUS and the University of Twente (The Netherlands). She is a member of the Management Committee of the COST Action CA17122 on Citizen Science and Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and the International Association for Open Knowledge on IAS (INVASIVESNET).