Viikki Sustainability Research Seminar

Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) organize a joint research seminar focused on various sustainability themes. The seminar invites researchers and other interested guests to discuss and debate topical sustainability research.

Spring 2024

The Viikki Sustainability Research seminars will return again in spring 2024! Here you will find more information and dates for the spring sessions. Check the dates and topics already confirmed below! 

The theme of the seminar series this spring is Global human and non-human migration - sustainability challenges and opportunities 

Globally, human and non-human migration are shaping the world dramatically, while yet many individuals cannot migrate or do not survive the migration. Furthermore, many of those who stay do not prosper, and those who migrated may have serious difficulties in the new place. This seminar series looks for the big picture, bringing in researchers from different fields to understand the key drivers behind mass migrations as well as the impacts of the ongoing great reshuffling of people and other beings. How will ecosystems and our societies look like in the near future and further away?  

Join the event via this link!


Spring 2024

When: Tuesday 13th February at 15:00-16:00 UTS +2 (Helsinki Time). For the rest of the world, check your time here. From 16 to 16:30 there is a possibility to stay online for discussion.

Where: Online (Teams link!)

This first seminar event of the spring explores why mass migration is happening now globally, among humans and other species. This seminar session provides an overview of the circumstances that have contributed to the current global migration, addressing some of the key factors affecting the movement of humans, and geographic range shifts non-human animals and plants. 


HELSUS director Susanna Lehvävirta


Maria Hällfors, Senior Research Scientist Syke

Mila Sell, Senior Research Scientist, Luke

Samuel White, Professor of Political History, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki


Maria Hällfors: Species on the move

Over time, species have evolved to thrive in specific environments, and climatic conditions provide some of the most important boundaries for these spatial ranges. As climate changes, temperatures tend to increase and precipitation regimes change, whereby the conditions where species currently occur will also change. In this presentation, I describe how species can adapt to climate change by adjusting in place or by dispersing across space, and how these strategies may complement or enhance each other. Which option(s) is more readily available to a species might be predictable by differences among species in their flexibility vs. selectivity for climatic conditions, and thus provide a key to understanding both observed and future range shifts. 

Maria Hällfors is Senior Research Scientist in the Nature Solutions unit at the Finnish Environment Institute Syke where she investigates the effects of climate change on biodiversity. An overarching goal of her research is to identify common denominators for species that are and are not able to adjust to environmental change and especially climate change. 

Mila Sell: The broad impacts a food system transformation in Africa can have for people, communities and sustainability 

A key driver of migration has always been the search for new opportunities. In Africa the majority of the population is dependent on the food system for their income and wellbeing. Global and local threats caused or exacerbated by climate change, biodiversity loss and population growth, is negatively affecting African food systems, which in turn has a huge impact on local opportunities and communities. How can and should food systems be transformed, in order to provide stability as well as sustainability? 

Mila Sell is a Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) with a multidisciplinary academic background, including an MSc in social sciences, and a PhD in Agricultural Economics. She has a long experience of research program design, coordination and implementation in the field of sustainability and resilience, especially focusing on food systems and natural resource management in an African context. Her special interests include using a gender perspective, participatory co-creation methods and empowerment of small-scale farmers. 

Sam White: Historical Perspectives on Climate, Disasters, and Human Migrations   

Current anthropogenic climate change is unprecedented, but past centuries provide numerous examples of displacement and migration during climate- and weather-related disasters. By bridging findings from historical research and from studies of current climate-migration links, we may be in a better position to identify long-term patterns and scenarios for the 21st century. This presentation will briefly discuss some historical studies of climate, disaster, and migration and possible insights for current and future challenges.   

Sam White is professor of political history at the University of Helsinki, where he teaches environmental history, theory and methods of history, and uses and politics of history. His research specializes in past climates, disasters, extreme weather, and societal impacts and adaptations.   



When: Tuesday 19th March at 15:00-16:00 UTS +2 (Helsinki Time). For the rest of the world, check your time here. From 16 to 16:30 there is a possibility to stay online for discussion.

Where: Online (Teams link!)

The second seminar explores what are the consequences of the mobility/migration for humans and non-humans in their destination: How do the human migrants adapt to the new conditions, what are the possible challenges and enablers?  And what are the potential ecological and social impacts of the invasive animal and plant species and how are they managed? 


Katriina Soini, Luke


Chaitawat Boonjubun, visiting scholar and postdoctoral research fellow (HELSUS): Thai berry pickers, seasonal work, and the Finnish sustainable food systems 

Henri Vanhanen PhD, Senior Scientist (Luke): Invasive Alien Species - Pathways

Marja Uusitalo, Senior Scientist (Luke): Challenges and solutions in nature-based integration of migrants in Finland


Chaitawat Boonjubun: Thai berry pickers, seasonal work, and the Finnish sustainable food systems 

The Finnish way of life is closely connected to nature. Jokaisenoikeudet or the everyman’s rights principle allows everyone who lives in or visits Finland to free roam the natural areas and pick wild berries and mushrooms. Wild berry picking for commercial purposes is hard work because it usually requires long-distance walking in difficult terrain areas. For over a decade now, wild berries have been commercially harvested by berry pickers from foreign countries, primarily from Thailand. Albeit Thai berry pickers are the backbone of the Finnish wild berry industry, suspected cases of exploitation of Thai berry pickers are constantly highlighted in government and media reports. Most Thai berry pickers are not employed persons; they are invited by berry-purchasing companies to pick and sell wild berries to them. In lieu of bringing hundreds of thousands of Thai baht back home as expected, many pickers eventually were in debt because of various costs such as travel expenses, visas, lodging, and the fluctuations in the prices of wild berries. This research looks at the lived experience of Thai berry pickers in Finland throughout their mobility process. It also discusses how commercial berry picking by Thai berry pickers has contributed to the Finnish sustainable food systems. 

Chaitawat Boonjubun is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Unit of Social Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, working for “The Decision Making of Aspiring (Re)migrants to and within the EU: the Case of Labour Market-leading Migrations from Asia (AspirE)" which is an EU-funded research project exploring the decision-making of aspiring (re)migrants from Southeast and East Asia to and within the EU countries. He is also a grant recipient of the Finnish Cultural Foundation for a postdoctoral research project "From Thai Rice Fields to Finnish Berry Forests: Thai Berry Pickers in Finland and Their Experiences of Social Inequalities Throughout the Mobility Process". Chaitawat is a visiting scholar at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. He is a member of the International Editorial Advisory Board of Housing Studies journal and the Editorial Board of the Just Ecological Political Economy (JEPE), the Global South Theme of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS). 

Marja Uusitalo: Challenges and solutions in nature-based integration of migrants in Finland 

Immigration to Finland has increased, as in other EU countries. Integration programs should have a variety of tools to support immigrants who are at high risk of social exclusion, such as people from non-EU countries. We have explored the challenges and solutions of nature-based integration in several EU co-funded projects and have identified some barriers that may prevent migrants from using green spaces. We have also developed a model that applies 'Green Care' principles to nature-based activities for multicultural groups of newcomers and local people to promote social inclusion and the health benefits of nature. 

Marja Uusitalo (DSS) is a Senior Scientist at Luke. She has led research and development projects on the use of green spaces in social and tourism services. She also applies landscape design and service design methods to her work. 

Henri Vanhanen: Invasive Alien Species - Pathways

Trade and transport has moved people and goods yet also hidden passengers. Trade has been the main reason for species to reach areas, continents, islands beyond their normal migratory capabilities. Historically modes of transport have changed in time and introduction of species to new territories resemble each time period in transport development. In the presentation historical modes of spread of alien invasive species is described and trough examples opened the various environmental, social, and economical effects the species may have in new areas they occupy.

Henri Vanhanen is Senior Research Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) where his current research and development work focuses on fungal applications whether it would food, feed or biomaterials. In the past he finished his PhD on alien invasive species and continued the research funded by academy of Finland at SCION, New Zealand. Latest project regarding invasive species was XAMK coordinated Prevention and utilization of Invasive Alien Species - PURE, ENI CBC.

The Viikki Sustainability Research Seminar in April is unfortunately cancelled.

Past events

When: Tue 30.05. at 15-16 UTS +2 (Helsinki Time). For the rest of the world, check your time here. 

There will be coffee served on-site from 14:30 and time for discussion from 16:00-16:30. 

Where: On-site at Viikki (Latokartanonkaari 9, A-building, Room A2) and via Teams (follow this link to join the seminar online).

Chair: Susanna Lehvävirta

Speakers: SYKE: Sampo Pihlainen and Luke: Esa-Jussi Viitala

Sampo Pihlainen: Closing the climate and biodiversity financing gap

Abstract: Meeting the global climate and biodiversity targets necessitates adequate financing of the needed actions. Climate finance aims to support climate mitigation and adaptation actions. Biodiversity finance seeks to support actions to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Climate-finance flows have been steadily increasing during the last decade, but they are still far below the levels of investment needed to keep the global warming below 1,5 degrees. There is also a serious gap between the current biodiversity financing and its sufficient level. To close these gaps, more public and private funding is needed. One identified tool in this is the removal, realignment or repurposing of the governmental subsidies harmful for climate and biodiversity. 

Bio: Sampo Pihlainen is a Senior Research Scientist in the Sustainability group of the Climate solutions unit in Finnish Environment Institute (Syke). His current research focuses on the economics of land use sector climate solutions, especially on the policy measures to increase forest carbon sinks.

Esa-Jussi Viitala: Sustainable Finance – EU Taxonomy 

When: Tue 25.04. at 15-16 UTS +2

There will be coffee served on-site from 14:30 and time for discussion from 16:00-16:30. 

Where: On-site at Viikki (Latokartanonkaari 9, A-building, Room A2) and via Teams (follow this link to join the seminar online).

Chair: Katriina Soini


SYKE: Suvi Huttunen, a leading researcher at the Societal change unit of the Finnish Environment Institute

University of Helsinki: Erik Andersson, a professor at the Ecosystem and Environment Research Programme, University of Helsinki, HELSUS

Luke: Juha Hiedanpää, a research professor on natural resource and environmental policy and governance

Suvi Huttunen: Citizens as knowledge co-producers in sustainability transitions research

Public engagement is understood as a prerequisite for sustainability transitions. There is a need to create a more holistic understanding of how citizens participate in knowledge co-creation for sustainability transitions. I will present results from a recent paper, in which we review the sustainability transitions literature from the perspective of citizen engagement in research. Overall, citizen engagement was relatively rare, and only loosely connected to transitions approaches. Four key forms of citizen engagement in transitions research were identified: (1) envisioning sustainable futures; (2) local transition implementation; (3) revealing public perceptions; and (4) developing participatory methods to facilitate transitions. These forms facilitate transitions in terms of participant empowerment and providing a broader understanding of practical circumstances. However, citizens rarely participated throughout the research process and the acknowledgement of citizens' local knowledge remained limited. There is a need to deepen citizen engagement in transitions research and more explicitly address power relations. 

Bio: Suvi Huttunen works as a leading researcher at the Societal change unit of the Finnish Environment Institute. Currently her research focuses on governing just transitions and she is particularly interested in understanding citizen engagement in governance. 

Erik Andersson: Shifting roles in collective knowledge weaving

Drawing on insights from the design and implementation of several participatory dialogue process, I will outline methodological adaptations to a resilience informed system exploration, to better accommodate the complexity of mosaic landscapes. We have used different knowledge elicitation and deliberation methods - workshops, surveys, and interviews – paralleled by a thorough literature-based and reflexive analysis of process outcomes. The main discussion points are stakeholder participation, the role of discourses and actors, identities and mandates, agency, and adaptive capacity, and alternative strategies for dealing with change. Handling this diversity poses a challenge for process design: combining the ambition of an inclusive process and the need to be relevant with the use of bridging concepts increases the risk of reducing the level of complexity of the deliberative process. Moving from knowledge generation to taking action remains a challenge and give cause to reflect on what is the role of the researcher.

Bio: Andersson is a professor of sustainability science at the Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme and HELSUS. With more than 80 peer reviewed publications in scientific journals, 6 book chapters and multiple technical reports and popular science items, Anderson is an active and independent scientist. He has led multiple national and international research projects (coordinator or WP lead) since 2010 and collaborate with a wide international network of scientists and organisations. Andersson has experience in systems and landscape ecology, geography, urban studies, landscape governance, participatory research, transdisciplinary research, review and synthesis work, climate change adaptation, action research and design. Andersson has successfully has led several larger European projects investigating broad sustainability issues and how green infrastructure and functioning social-ecological systems play in contributing to different solutions. 

Outside academia, his transdisciplinary research is paralleled by engagement and collaboration with civic, public and private actors, with tasks and activities such as being a member of expert panels and advisory boards, or acting as a broker of scientific knowledge in diverse initiatives exploring and testing pathways towards more sustainable urban development.

Juha Hiedanpää: The normative limits of scientific advice

Transdisciplinary research is expected to have societal relevance. As currently understood, in transdisciplinary research the involvement of concerned communities and relevant decision-making bodies should happen throughout the science process from the identification of research problems all the way to the evaluation of the long-term effects of applied solutions. A multitude of ethical and scientific issues arise during the transdisciplinary process. This is not all, however. Aesthetic issues often also arise since transdisciplinary research intervenes with communities’ and community members’ understanding of and reflection on what constitutes an admired end in given problematic situation and hence the purpose of collaborative scientific endeavour. In my short presentation, by leaning on philosopher Charles S. Peirce’s (1839–1914) conception of normative sciences, I will highlight some aesthetic, ethical and scientific aspects of the practice of transdisciplinary research.  

Bio: Juha is research professor on natural resource and environmental policy and governance at Luke. Currently he leads the Strategic research programme Environmental and Social Links to Biodiversity Loss (BIOD, 2021–2027) and projects such as Coevolutionary approach to unlock the transformative potential of nature-based solutions for more inclusive and resilient communities (COEVOLVERS, Horizon Europe, 2022–2026) and Bringing institutional virtues into governance: Integrating the scientific, indigenous, and local knowing in Teno river salmon policy and administration (DEATNU, Academy of Finland, 2022–2026). Among other scientific writings, he has co-authored Environmental Heresies: The Quest for Reasonable (Palgrave, 2016) with Daniel W. Bromley.

When: Tue 28.03. at 15-16 UTS +2

There will coffee served on-site from 14:30 and time for discussion from 16:00-16:30. 

Where: On-site at Viikki (Latokartanonkaari 9, A-building, Room A2) and via Teams (follow this link to join the seminar online). 

Chair: Eeva Primmer

Speakers:  Kai Kokko (HELSUS) and Anu Lähteenmäki-Uutela (SYKE)

Anu Lähteenmäki-Uutela: Comprehensive and Coherent Legislation to Transform Food Systems

Food system outputs and outcomes are not in line with the SDGs, the planetary boundaries, or international human rights law. Food systems must be transformed, and States have a duty to do so. Comprehensive and coherent legislation targeting all food system actors is required. Currently, there is EU legislation on fertilizer and pesticide use in agriculture, and food safety rules are plentiful. Environmental footprints and human rights impacts have so far not been regulated. Food is also not required to nutritious or healthy, and marketing unhealthy foods even to children is allowed. The proposed Deforestation Regulation, the proposed Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, and the EU taxonomy for sustainable investments are good examples of more systemic approaches. Food sold in Europe should not be based on biodiversity loss, unsustainable water use or water degradation, forced labour or child labour, or violations of indigenous rights. The food industry and food retail (supermarkets and restaurants) as major food system actors should carry the main responsibility for environmental sustainability and human rights issues with food sold in Europe. The food industry, food retail, and marketing companies are also responsible for obesity, and much stricter legislation is needed concerning nutrition and health. Consumer choice alone will never make food systems sustainable. Investor choice might.

Bio: Anu Lähteenmäki-Uutela works as a senior research scientist at the Finnish Environment Institute. She is Adjunct Professor in food law. Currently she studies how to regulate trade, how to regulate agriculture and aquaculture, and how to regulate alternative protein products.

Kai Kokko: Legislation and guidance 

A significant part of environmental law is based on regulation by statute, i.e., legislative measures that consciously aim to guide the activities and behaviour of individuals, public authorities and communities. The regulative objective will be to implement environmental policy with legal instruments (instrumentalist perspective). 

However, environmental regulation does not empty out in the implementation of environmental policy, but it must be understood as a broader concept, covering the systematic efforts of some actor to influence on the behaviour of other actors by setting guidelines and standards. Regulation can require active response, passive acceptance or merely inform the target of regulation. Regulation also includes control and enforcement. Such regulation includes, for example, international self-regulation adopted by the mining industry to guide the treatment of cyanide by various operators in order to prevent accidents in gold mining operations. Self-regulation clearly describes how environmental legislation as a concept is no longer sufficient to cover diversified environmental regulation.

In fact, actors can be regulated at the same time according to regulation from different policy sectors and sources. In Bio-CCU research project is studied carbon capture, use and storage technologies (CCUS) which are gaining an increasing role in mitigating climate change. At the University of Helsinki researchers Tiina Paloniitty and Emilie Yliheljo with me focus on the regulative analysis of the CCUS. These novel cross-sectoral technologies – mandatory for achieving the EU Green Deal objectives of sustainability transition – challenge the traditional representation of environmental law divided into distinct sectoral silos, interlinked yet separate with at times overlapping, at times conflicting aims.

Bio: Kai Kokko, professor at the Faculty of Law, the University of Helsinki, is specialized environmental and sustainability law. He is currently leading WP 5 in the Bio-CCU project funded by Business Finland.

When? Tue 13.12.2022 at 15-16 UTC +3

There will coffee served on-site from 14:30 and time for discussion from 16:00-16:30. The discussion is not recorded.

Where? Recording available here.


Susanna Lehvävirta, HELSUS Director


Jan Weckström, University Researcher (HELSUS)

Kirsi Usva, Research Scientist (LUKE)

Jarno Turunen, Senior Researcher (SYKE)

Palaeolimnology – a key tool for sustainable water management, presenter Jan Weckström

The high demand of technological societies and economic growth increases the need for and use of natural resources. Freshwaters are essential for humans to survive, thus its of great importance to secure its quality and availability. However, too often, no directly measured data on freshwater ecosystem quality are available, and thus the separation of pollution impacts from other environmental changes and processes can be extremely challenging. Paleolimnological methods can be used to reliably trace past environmental conditions, providing information about the timing, direction, speed, and magnitude of changes in freshwater ecosystems.

Palaeolimnology is also a key element in our new project “Vesiekosysteemien seuranta- ja velvoitetarkkailumenetelmien kehittäminen – menetelmät ja tila-arviot ekosysteemin toiminnan kuvaajina (VesiMon)” where the aims are to evaluate the current environmental impact monitoring and obligatory monitoring methods and, if necessary, to develop them in a more comprehensive and cost-effective direction. This project will hopefully provide decision makers with new tools for sustainable water management in order to keep our national treasure, clean freshwaters, in good condition also in the future.

Bio: Jan Weckström is a university researcher at the Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme HY and has 30 years of experience in paleoecology/paleolimnology within a broad range of research interests. His current project focus on the development of new and cost-effective monitoring-, and obligatory monitoring methods for freshwater ecosystems.

Assessing water scarcity impacts of food products, presenter Kirsi Usva

Agriculture is the main water consumer globally. Even if water scarcity conditions in Finland is good, due to international food trade, assessing water scarcity impacts of food products is a very relevant question in here too. AWARE is the most promising method for water scarcity impact assessment within life cycle assessment (LCA) framework. The first food case studies with AWARE indicate that irrigation is the most important water consumer in food chains, when applied. Secondly the geographical origins of inputs may do a remarkable difference in the water scarcity impact results of foods. More research within LCA is needed with spatially differentiated data on the inputs as well as with primary data especially on irrigation. In general, the reliability of the assessments would be improved by integrating more detailed process level data to wider scope assessments. 

Bio: Researcher Kirsi Usva works in Natural Resources Institute Finland. Her research focuses on environmental impacts of food, and she applies and develops life cycle assessment methodology. The topic of her doctoral dissertation is water scarcity impact within LCA, especially in terms of inventory data.

Land use in changing climate- the response of boreal freshwater ecosystems? presenter Jarno Turunen

Land use is a pervasive anthropogenic pressure causing ecological degradation in freshwater ecosystems. In the boreal region, climate change and increase of air temperature and precipitation will exacerbate the land use impacts by increasing nutrient and sediment pollution, organic carbon run off and heat waves. There is an urgent need to understand the ecological effects of these inevitable environmental changes and find sustainable land use solutions to mitigate the adverse effects. In this presentation, I summarize the potential land use impacts of forestry and agriculture on boreal stream ecosystems, especially in the context of changing climate and the potential solutions to mitigate these impacts.

Bio: Jarno Turunen is a senior researcher in the Freshwater Centre of Finnish Environment Institute (Syke). His current research focuses on the impacts of hydromorphological and land use pressures on the ecological status of aquatic ecosystems and on the key ecological restoration measures.


When? Tue 15.11.2022 at 15-16 UTC +3

There will coffee served on-site from 14:30 and time for discussion from 16:00-16:30. The discussion is not recorded.

Where? Recording available here.


Katriina Soini, Principal Scientist, Research Manager, Luke 


Saija Rasi, Principal Scientist, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Helena Valve, Senior researcher, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Maria Brockhaus, Professor (HELSUS)

Sustainability of biogas production from different organic waste and side streams, presenter Saija Rasi

Abstract: Biogas is considered as one of the sustainable ways to produce energy. On the other hand, sustainability depends on raw materials used as well as the processing methods, including digestate treatment and utilization. In Finland, most of the biogas plants use municipal biowaste or waste water sludge as raw material. With increasing demand on green and local energy, the amount of biogas plants as well as need for new raw materials are increasing. This brings new challenges also to sustainability assessment. Also, EU has set targets for renewable energy production but also defines a series of sustainability and GHG emission criteria that bioenergy must comply with to be counted towards the overall target and to be eligible for financial support by public authorities. Some EU countries has also set own regulations for biogas production, in addition to EU criteria. Knowing the risks and raw materials, sustainable biogas production is possible.

Bio: Saija Rasi, PhD, is a principal scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland. Her research focuses on biogas and biorefinery systems including studies on biomass availability, production of value-added bio-based products and energy, nutrient recycling and sustainability issues. She is the Finnish representative in IEA Bioenergy Task 37: Energy from Biogas.

Economisation of nutrient-rich biomasses: How business models serve closing of material loops? presenter Helena Valve

Abstract: Making a circular economy transformation has sparked interest in business models as means to decouple value creation and the use of virgin raw materials. However, business models operating within a single economic domain and within uniform institutional conditions may differ in terms of how they organise material circuits. In Finland, four biogas business models can be differentiated based on what wastes and side-flows they enable to be recovered, and how. Because the business models co-evolve, their potentials need to be analysed in relation to the business model ecosystem. An emerging business model competes with the dominating model. The newcomer would help to generate more closed material loops, but so far the institutional landscape has failed to provide support for its modes of value creation and value capture. Two other business models qualify as niche solutions coexisting with the other models. Knowing the business model ecosystem opens up prospects for policy revisions that can foster a more circular economy.

Bio: Dr Helena Valve works as a senior researcher in the Finnish Environment Institute. Her research on environmental governance draws from science and technology studies (STS), economic sociology and policy studies. Some of her recent projects focus on economisation of waste and side-flows, such as animal manure and plastic waste, and on the potentials of public policies to promote sustainable resource recovery.

Flows of biomass through infrastructures of inequality, presenter Maria Brockhaus

Abstract: Tropical forests and forestlands are being claimed for a myriad of interconnected global, national and local interests. On the ground, plantations for biomass resources and the production of commodities such as timber, rubber and oil palm are physical structures representing these interests. Flows of (biomass) material, finance and ideas are intertwined with the establishment and persistence of plantations with similar sets of actors, discourses and institutions since colonial times, potentially (re)producing infrastructures of inequality.

Building on an emerging body of literature by Tania Li, Anna Tsing, Donna Haraway and others, we aim to unpack infrastructures of inequality through a critical analysis of discursive practices, incentive structures, material flows and power relations within the broader forest and land use arena. We propose a research design to tackle one of the most fundamental questions for social-environmental justice in the forest: how to break and transform long-standing infra-structures of inequality towards more just and equitable futures?

Bio: Dr. Maria Brockhaus is Professor of International Forest Policy at the University of Helsinki, Finland. In her research, she focusses on the political economy of deforestation in the Global South and underlying politics and power relations. Her current projects focus on forests & climate change and equity outcomes in rapidly changing forest frontiers. 

When? Tue 11.10.2022 at 15-16 UTC +3

There will coffee served on-site from 14:30 and time for discussion from 16:00-16:30. The discussion is not recorded.

Where? Recording available here.


Eeva Primmer, Professor, Research Director, SYKE


Hannu Savolainen, Senior research scientist, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

Mikko Jokinen, Researcher, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Alexander Dunlap, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oslo


From mines to steel mills and smart phones – Mineral flows in Finnish economy, presenter Hannu Savolainen

Abstract: Our wellbeing and way of life stand – quite concretely – on mineral feet. Material basis of goods and services includes various metal ores and many non-metallic minerals. Demand for minerals has risen rapidly, and the absolute decoupling of minerals use and economic growth is not happening. Green transition increases demand for several minerals including rare earth elements. Material flow analysis (MFA) and input-output analysis (IOA) can shed light to supply and use of minerals in socio-economic systems. Which goods and services require the most minerals in Finland? What is the role of physical trade?

Bio: Hannu Savolainen, Senior research scientist at SYKE, is specialized in environmentally-extended economy-wide modeling and material flow analysis. He is currently working with e.g., scenario analysis of circular economy in Finland.


The Extractive Realities Behind Low-Carbon Infrastructures, presenter Alexander Dunlap

Abstract: This presentation explores the mining and raw material extraction necessary behind wind, solar and other lower-carbon technologies. This lecture reviews the material requirements behind wind and solar infrastructures, followed by examining the reality of the mining, mineral processing and manufacturing process. This entails discussing the realities behind mining, such as political contestations, human rights violations and the toxifications of environments. This lecture begins discussing trends towards the digitalizing of mining and efforts at ‘green’ mining. Additionally, this lecture entails examining overlooked methodological issues that are slowly graining more attention. These issue entail underestimations and exclusion of issues related to quantitative data collection, modelling studies and the authority granted to modeling research by public policy. This lecture lays out a series of underexamined issues instrumental to understanding the extractive costs of a green energy transition.

Bio: Alexander Dunlap is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. His work has critically examined police-military transformations, market-based conservation, wind energy development and extractive projects more generally in Latin America and Europe. He has published two books: Renewing Destruction: Wind Energy Development, Conflict and Resistance in an American Context (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and, the co-authored, The Violent Technologies of Extraction (Palgrave, 2020). This includes a forthcoming edited volume: Enforcing Ecocide: Power, Policing & Planetary Militarization (Palgrave, 2022).


Does local opinion matter? And how should it?, presenter Mikko Jokinen

Abstract: Extractive industries have major impacts on environment, societies, and local communities. Many rural municipalities especially in Finnish Lapland welcome mines hoping them to boost economy, positive demographic change, and social conditions. If municipality already has industrial history, a new mine can mean long-awaited revival.

Environmental social studies, current proposal for Finnish mining law, and mining company policies state that local opinions must be respected in use of local natural resources. However, mines also divide local communities creating conflicts between people representing different livelihoods, cultural background, and political history. That is the case in Kolari but not so much in Kittilä, two small neighbour municipalities located in Lapland.

Mining impacts are not necessarily local. Environmental changes and risks on water can spread hundreds of kilometres from actual mining sites and concern people living in several municipalities and countries.

My point is that respecting local can be a very complex task. Sometimes we meet extremely different voices. Local people should be considered as those who meet the mining impacts in their environments and communities. Municipalities have monopoly in land-use planning but might have only few resources and limited experience on risk assessment and sustainability thinking. Going local is not necessarily the best option.

Bio: PhD Mikko Jokinen is senior scientist in Natural Resource Institute Finland Luke. He has studied social and cultural sustainability in nature use since 1990s, especially in northern Finland. Many of his works deal with reconciliation of nature-based livelihoods and environmental and wildlife conflicts.

When? Tue 24.5.2022 15 to 16 UTC +3

Recording: Available on Unitube


Susanna Lehvävirta, HELSUS Director


Janne Hukkinen, Professor (HELSUS)

Minna Kaljonen, Research Professor, (SYKE)

Sabaheta Ramcilovik-Suominen, Associate Research Professor (Luke)

Strategic environmental crisis management, presenter Janne Hukkinen (HELSUS)


As large-scale socio-environmental disruptions become chronic, it is imperative for to consider the long-term consequences of urgent crisis decisions. In two large research consortia run by the Environmental Policy Research Group at the University of Helsinki, we have developed empirically grounded principles for the design of a novel decision platform, the Policy Operations Room (POR). POR tackles the challenges of strategic environmental crisis management, which refers to coordinated decisions during an environmental urgency that are sensitive to long-term path dependencies and policy errors. Since policy errors are inevitable in urgent decisions with decadal-scale consequences, the central standard of performance in strategic environmental crisis management is the capacity to recognize and cope with errors. In my talk I will describe our experimentation with the POR concept and its design principles.


Janne I. Hukkinen is professor of environmental policy at the University of Helsinki. He studies the cognitive aspects of sustainability assessment and strategy, with empirical applications in participation, expertise, and risk in environmental policy. Hukkinen is a Member of The Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, Editorial Board Member of the journal Ecological Economics, and Expert Counsellor on the Environment for the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland.

How to think about policy mixes for just sustainability transition? Presenter Minna Kaljonen (SYKE)


Policies have a crucial role to play in sustainability transitions. Today in many cases, it however, appears that the existing policies rather hinder than speed up the sustainability transition. Policy mix frameworks have been developed in sustainability transition research to understand better how the interplay between various policies contribute to transition. In this presentation I discuss how these frameworks challenge our way of thinking about environmental policy and governance. I consider also how the notion of just transition compels us to widen the policy mixes for sustainability transition even further. In my presentation I use examples from food system transition to highlighting the complexities involved.


Minna Kaljonen works as a research professor at the Finnish Environment Institute. Her research has evolved from environmental policy and governance to the study of just sustainability transitions. Her empirical studies have concentrated upon sustainable food system transition from various angles. She currently leads a large inter- and transdisciplinary Just food project, which examines just transition in the context of food system.

The what and the how of transformations, presenter Sabaheta Ramcilovik-Suominen (Luke)


Drawing on my recently published paper Just transformations from decolonial and degrowth perspective (open access), as well as various work in progress where with my colleagues or by myself I engage the concept of transformations from various angles, mostly from decolonial, justice and degrowth perspectives. In this seminar I will propose an approach to transformations, where such is seen as a counterhegemonic construct that focuses on underlying or ‘root’ causes of a problem and seek radical alternatives outside the hegemonic structures, relations and discourses. This sets transformations apart from reformist transitionary and/or inclusionary approaches, which negotiate within the existing hegemonic socio-political and economic structures and imaginaries, offering incremental changes and adjustments. I will also present an analytical framework for transformations, which is a work in progress as I prepare to carry out large empirical research on transformations, which crosses different levels and includes different actors – from grassroots to EU policy level. Hence my presentation will most likely raise more questions and hopefully offer foods for thought, rather than solutions as such. But if you are interested in these debates, come along, and help me think.


Sabaheta Ramcilovic-Suominen works as an associate research professor at the Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke. Sabaheta’s background is in the field of international environmental and forest policy and governance. She has studied international policy initiatives, such as EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) in Laos and Ghana predominantly, where she has focused on the issues of decentralisation, power relations and environmental justice. She currently works on her Academy of Finland Research Fellowship JustGlobe project where she focuses on justice, politics and transformations in the context of global bioeconomy.

When? Wed 27.4.2022 15 to 16 UTC +3

Recording: Available on Unitube


Katriina Soini, Principal Scientist, Research Manager, Luke 


Dr. Matti O. Hannikainen, post-doctoral researcher (HELSUS)

Dr. Juha Honkaniemi, research scientist (Luke)

Noble Stock or Rough Fish? Classifying Fish in Finnish Society during the 20th century, presenter Matti O. Hannikainen (HELSUS)


The importance of fish in the Finnish diet has changed during the 20th century. Above all, the disparity between the various species of fish has broadened reflecting their changing economic and cultural values. The concept of ‘rough fish’, which refers to those species with little or no value for human consumption, is relatively new, however. Its advent in the late nineteenth century was linked to novel scientific thinking on fishing, which moreover portrayed human as the master over nature with power to preserve and farm the commercially valuable species and to exterminate the unwanted species.  

In this presentation, we shall discuss, how the concept ‘rough fish’ has affected the ranking as well as the consumption of various fish species in Finnish culture. Secondly, we shall analyse how the commercialisation and modernisation fishing in addition to living conditions and cooking began to shrink the number of species served as food. Finally, the chapter aims to place the concept rough fish in its historical context by examining changes in the discourse concerning the value of various species of fish reflecting their economic significance and shifts in cultural appreciation and depreciation. This presentation is based on the textual analysis of official documents, fishing manuals, professional journal articles and cookbooks published in Finnish. 


Dr. Matti O. Hannikainen is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. He has specialised in urban and environmental history. His last project on cultural history of fish in Finland was funded by Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation (2020–21). 

Management legacies shape the root rot risks in coniferous forests, presenter Juha Honkaniemi (Luke)


Heterobasidion root rot on conifers is a widespread problem throughout the Northern hemisphere. In Finland, root rot causes major economic effects on timber production by reducing the quality of timber. In addition, it predisposes trees to other disturbance agents such as wind and bark beetles, as it poses a constant stress on trees. However, root rot also benefits from forest management as the fresh stumps made during the growing season are ultimate growing material for the spores and thus provide optimal spread routes to previously healthy forests. Once forests are infected, the pathogen can live there for decades spreading from tree generation to another. Here, we analysed the current distribution of Heterobasidion root rot in Finland using observations from National Forest Inventories from 1995 to 2017. This vast dataset was combined with information on past forest management and land-use intensity, landscape structure and environment. Machine learning analysis indicated that variables related to forest management legacies, distance to nearest sawmill in operation ca. 100 years ago and distance to a waterway potentially used for timber rafting, were the most important for predicting root rot occurrence. It was more important what happened in the forest in the past compared to current state of the forest. Thus, the effects of management legacies carry on for decades and centuries via shifting disturbance regimes. This highlights the importance of current management and land-use decisions on forest dynamics in the future.


Dr. Juha Honkaniemi is a research scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland Luke. In his research Dr. Honkaniemi focuses on the interaction of forest management and natural disturbance dynamics combining long-term inventories and field data, remote sensing and simulation modelling. He has graduated from the University of Helsinki in 2017 (PhD in forest sciences) and since worked as a postdoc in Austria at BOKU. Currently, he has a postdoctoral project funded by the Academy of Finland where he studies the past, present and future disturbance regimes in Fennoscandia and the recovery potential of forests in the changing climate.

When? Wed 30.3.2022 at 15-16 UTC +3

Recording: Available on Unitube


Eeva Primmer, Professor, Research Director, SYKE


Titta Tapiola, Principal Specialist, doctoral student (Luke) 

Tero Heinonen, researcher (SYKE)

Antti Laherto, PhD, Title of Docent (Faculty of Educational Sciences, UH, HELSUS)

From a single vis­ion to a vis­ion cluster – vis­ions of sustainable food pack­aging, presenter Titta Ta­pi­ola (Luke)

Authors: Titta Tapiola, Vilja Varho and Katriina Soini

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Abstract: Food packaging systems - as any other systems - are facing sustainability challenges and it is no longer possible to optimize or solve one single problem at a time. Instead, systemic view, co-operation and co-creation are needed when aiming for sustainability transitions. Common perception is that a necessary condition for any type of systemic change or transition is to have a clear vision of the desired future, which is shared by the members of the system. Visioning can be seen as a method that builds common futures thinking and the view of future goals of participants. 

In this presentation it is presented an analytical tool called “vision cluster” for analyzing visions. The visions of a system could be placed on two axes, according to their nature: x-axis for breadth of change (involvement of different actors) and y-axis for depth of change. We collected and analyzed stakeholder vision materials regarding sustainable food packaging in Finland. Considering the motivation and agency of participants to act towards the goals of their visions, we claim that collecting and sharing different kinds of visions (in relation to their depth and breadth) can be useful. They form a vision cluster, complementing each other, as long as they lead to a similar direction. For example, incremental visions are more easily reached and can therefore be motivating, whereas deeper visions can be inspirational and transformative, even if they are more difficult to reach. It is questionable whether a single, sufficiently concrete and commonly acceptable vision could be created for complex food packaging system, which further points to the usefulness of a vision cluster.

Bio: Titta Tapiola (M.Sc. Biochemistry, MBA and MA Futures studies) is a Principal Specialist, marketing at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). She is also doctoral student at University of Turku, Futures studies. She has  experience in marketing, communications and business development. Currently she works among other things for Package-Heroes project (under Strategic Research Counsil) from which the results are presented.

Ad­vert­ising build­ing ima­gin­ar­ies: Con­tent Analysis of Environ­mental Ad­vert­ising in Fin­land, presenter Tero Heinonen (SYKE)

Abstract: Commercials and advertisements not only tell consumers what to buy but they importantly also hint of a future to imagine or a life to strive for. Is it possible to imagine a more sustainable future from environmental marketing and green claims in advertising? Are more sustainable consumption choices achieved by acting upon these claims? What are the most common themes and types of claims in the market? To empirically address these questions, a sample of 250 web advertisements was collected in October 2021 and a citizen science campaign in November 2021 identified 80 additional advertisements. The aim is not a throughout judgement of all the ads collected but to classify their characteristics from different angles. This content-analysis generates systematic knowledge of the most common types of sustainability claims in the market. It enables to appraise the current environmental marketing claims in their potentiality to speed up (or slow down) sustainability transition.

Bio: Tero Heinonen (M.Sc. in Environment and Natural Resources & M.Soc.Sc. in Economics) is a researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute. He is interested in environmental impacts of consumption from a variety of viewpoints. His topics include carbon footprint calculations, sufficient consumption, consumer choice, policies to steer consumption and most recently environmental marketing. He has also experience of overseeing environmental marketing claims in the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority.

Stu­dents ima­gin­ing sustainable fu­tures in science education, presenter Antti La­herto (Fac­ulty of Edu­ca­tional Sciences, UH, HELSUS)

Abstract: Aims and pedagogies in the field of science education are evolving due to global sustainability crises. School science is increasingly concerned with responsible agency and value-based transformation. In the presentation I argue that perspectives and methods from the field of futures studies can help in meeting the new transformative aims of science education for sustainable development. I review some results from our EU-funded projects “I SEE” and “FEDORA”. We have found out how young people’s perceptions of science and technology and connected to their futures thinking and sense of agency. Our experiences show that future-oriented science learning activities, involving e.g. systems thinking, scenario development and backcasting, can let students broaden their futures perceptions, imagine alternatives and navigate uncertainty. I will discuss the importance and potential of such approach for science education and beyond.

Bio: Antti Laherto (PhD in Physics Education, Title of Docent in Science Education) works as a university lecturer at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. He prepares future teachers for secondary and primary schools. He serves as PI in two EU-funded projects connecting science learning to agency, futures thinking and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). He has also studied scientific and technological literacy and public engagement in science.

When? Wed 24.11.2021 15.00 to 16.00

Where? Recording available on Unitube


Anne Toppinen, Professor, HELSUS Director


Paula Kivimaa, Research Professor (SYKE)

Markus Melin, Research Manager (Luke)

Helmi Räisänen, Doctoral student (HELSUS)

Low-car­bon en­ergy trans­itions and their neg­at­ive and pos­it­ive se­cur­ity im­plic­a­tions, presenter Paula Kivimaa (SYKE)

Abstract: The energy transition is accelerating in many countries with increasing amounts of renewable energy, new climate policies, and decisions to phase-out hydrocarbons. While the transition is stimulated by decarbonisation efforts, its security implications are increasingly but not sufficiently recognised, and it is likely to have both positive and negative security effects. This presentation discusses – based on academic literature and 60 expert interviews in 4 European countries – the different security issues arising from the energy transition. The key issues pertain to energy security, wind power and defence, electricity system operability, cyber security, geopolitics, global and national stability, and climate security. The findings illustrate that experts’ expectations regarding the security implications of the energy transition are polarised around more or less secure future energy systems. From a socio-technical perspective, the issues connect not only to technology but also actors and institutions. Issues of national security are intertwined with socio-technological developments in energy systems, and a broader approach to security is necessary to improve policy coordination across domains influencing the energy transition.

Bio: Paula Kivimaa is Research Professor in Climate and Society in the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Associate at Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) in the University of Sussex, and a member of the Finnish Climate Panel. Her research focuses on sustainability transitions to zero-carbon energy and mobility systems, in particular from the perspective of how public policy (climate, energy, transport, innovation) contributes to such transitions. She currently conducts an Academy of Finland Fellowship project on examining the interplay between national defence, security and low-carbon energy policies. Kivimaa has published circa 50 peer-reviewed articles and contributed to reports, policy briefs and responses addressed to UK, Finnish and EU policymakers, including a report “Sustainability transitions: policy and practice” feeding into the State of the European Environment Report, published by the EEA. She holds an MSc in Environmental Technology (Imperial College, 2002) and a PhD in Organisations and Management (Helsinki School of Economics, 2008).

Di­verse forests are bet­ter equipped against in­sect out­breaks – prac­tical ex­amples from research, presenter Markus Melin (Luke)

Abstract: During the past decade, insect damages have hit the forests of Central and Eastern Europe at unprecedented scale. The damage have been especially serious in spruce forests, being caused by the spruce bark beetle. As devastating as the damage have been, they have at least given us valid and concrete examples about the least resilient forest types; lessons we should learn now. After all, the factors behind the massive damage have been linked to not only massive storms and extreme droughts, but also on wide-spread use of spruce in sites where the species would not normally occur. In this light, Finland has two co-occurring trends that make for an alarming combination: 1) the increasing amount of forest regeneration with spruce especially in southern Finland and 2) the fact that our climate has been – and is predicted to continue – warming. In this presentation, I will go through practical examples about the topic of insect damage and forests in this changing climate of ours. Special attention will be paid to the factors that will make our spruce forests more and more vulnerable for large scale insect outbreaks, but also on the topic of mixed forests versus single-species forests. Finally, I will discuss what factors may inhibit the creation of mixed forests – even during this time when we know we should promote them. Ultimate aim is to share news based on research, not on opinions.

Bio: Dr. Markus Melin (PhD in forest sciences) is a research scientist and research manager at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luonnonvarakeskus, Luke). He gained his PhD from University of Eastern Finland in 2016 on the topic of 3D remote sensing in wildlife ecology research. After his PhD, the whole family moved to the UK for a two-year post doc focusing on avian ecology and remote sensing. Use of, and teaching of, GIS has always been present as well. In 2018, the family moved back to Finland, and the work at Luke began. Currently his own research focuses mainly on damage agents and wildlife in forests, and how the changing climate is affecting them. Melin is a big fan of the outdoors, mushrooms and berries, year-round fishing and sharp humour.

Pan­demic pre­pared­ness be­fore and dur­ing COVID-19, presenter Helmi Räisänen (HELSUS)

Abstract: In this presentation, I describe my ongoing research on Finnish pandemic preparedness. The focus is on the infectious disease experts from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The time frame of the study extends from 2017 to 2021: I conducted expert interviews before and during the COVID-19 and I did participant observation in THL’s infectious disease unit before the pandemic. In addition, I analysed some of the most important health security related documents. Firstly, my aim was to understand how the experts conceptualize and act on future health threats that are caused by new, emerging pathogens. This led me to analyse the principles behind pandemic preparedness and some of the related anticipatory practices, such as disease surveillance networks, health security evaluation processes, simulation exercises, and preparedness plans. Secondly, based on interviews conducted during the COVID-19, I now intend to trace how this current pandemic has shaped the preparedness principles and practices and altered the experts’ perceptions of the next pandemic. Among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to highlight the importance of all-hazards approach to pandemic preparedness.

Bio: Helmi Räisänen (M.Soc.Sc., social and cultural anthropology) is a doctoral candidate in environmental policy at the University of Helsinki. She studies Finnish public authorities’ preparedness practices and perceptions of uncertainty. Her research focuses on the environmental aspects of the comprehensive security model, scenario-based simulation exercises, and pandemic preparedness. She is a member of the Environmental Policy Research Group led by Janne Hukkinen and WISE project (Creative adaptation to wicked socio-environmental disruptions) funded by the Strategic Research Council.

When? Wed 27.10.2021 15.00 to 16.00 via Microsoft Teams

Where? Recording available on Unitube


Katriina Soini, Principal Scientist, Research Manager (Luke)


Ville Kankaanhuhta, D.Sc. (Agr. & For.), Senior Scientist (Luke)

Maiju Lehtiniemi, Research Professor (SYKE)

Anna-Mari Rusanen, University Lecturer of Cognitive Science (HELSUS)

Digital trans­form­a­tion of forest services – an op­por­tun­ity to eco­sys­tem services?, presenter Ville Kankaan­huhta (Luke)

Abstract: This presentation introduces an innovation and development concept for agile software tools for the improvement of the productivity and customer experience of forest services. The original idea was to introduce a business process development and re-engineering approach that would provide an alternative for, e.g., hackathons, as a means for utilizing poorly exploited resources of open data. This need was recognized in the context of the opening of forest data and the development of service platforms for a forest-based bioeconomy in Finland. The forest services that were studied covered a continuum from a single type of work, e.g., soil preparation and young stand management through timber procurement, to comprehensive forest property management services. The study concentrated on the needs of micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which provide either retail- or business to business (B2B) services as sub-contractors. In addition, the challenges and bottlenecks in service processes detected by other stakeholders were considered. The prevailing service processes were conceptually modelled in order to search for opportunities for improvements in business and ecosystem services, i.e., agile software concepts. For example, we examined whether it would be possible to create opportunities for flexible operational models for precision forestry aiming at, e.g., resilience and protection of valuable microsites in forests. These software concepts have been developed and evaluated in co-operation with the stakeholders in a co-creative workshop in the case study described and in following projects ever since. The technological feasibility and commercial viability of the concepts, as well as the desirability for the customer were considered. Furthermore, the opportunities to capture value through bringing novel indicators of sustainability as part of digital service development will be considered in the future research.

Further information: Kankaanhuhta, V., Packalen, T., Väätäinen K. 2021. Digital Transformation of Forest Services in Finland—A Case Study for Improving Business Processes. Forests 12(6):781.

Bio: Ville Kankaanhuhta D.Sc. (Agr. & For.) is a Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). He is specialized in research of silvicultural services and their digital transformation, quality management, forest regeneration and young stand management, information systems, forest damage and health issues, as well as operational models and practices of forest management. Lately, he has been concentrating on the adoption and utilization of open forest and nature data to produce forest and ecosystem services.

Be­ne­fits and chal­lenges of digital mar­ine cit­izen science, presenter Maiju Le­htiniemi (SYKE)

Abstract: Citizen science has been shown to provide easily useful data for several purposes but there are certain aspects to consider to produce reliable information timely and not to mislead the data providers. Continuous and comprehensive monitoring is one of the most important practices to trace changes in the state of the environment and target management efforts. Yet, resources are often insufficient for monitoring all required parameters, and therefore authorities have started to utilize citizen observations to supplement and increase the scale of monitoring. In marine realm several monitoring programmes are complemented with citizen observations e.g. on certain characteristic non-native species, jellyfish, cyanobacterial blooms and marine litter. In this talk, the need for transparency in citizen science will be discussed through different examples to meet the data needs of the authorities as well as the wishes and expectations of the citizens providing the observations.

Bio: Maiju Lehtiniemi works as a research professor in the Marine Research Centre of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). Her research interests cover pelagic food web ecology, effects of non-native species and marine litter in the Baltic Sea. Due to her responsibilities concerning national non-indigenous species and zooplankton monitoring and respective Baltic Sea assessments, she has been long involved in engaging citizens in reporting their observations and in developing platforms for citizen science. She is also the coordinator of the Finnish Marine Research Infrastructure FINMARI where open data, data quality and data reporting issues are one the key elements.

Al­pha­bets of Sustainable Digitalisation, presenter Anna-Mari Rusanen (HELSUS)

Abstract: Digital technologies have advanced more rapidly than any innovation in our history. These technologies can be used to promote sustainability, to defend and exercise human rights. On the other hand, they can also be used to weaken the sustainability-friendly development, and to violate basic rights in many ways.

Bio: Dr. Anna-Mari Rusanen is a philosopher of artificial intelligence. Currently she works as a university lecturer in cognitive science (Department of Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki), and as a senior specialist on ethical, societal and scientific aspects of AI (PublICT, Ministry of Finance, Finnish Governance). Her research topics vary from the philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence and other cognitive systems, to  the cognitive division of labor in human-machine interactions and to ethical and societal aspects of digitalisation.  She is also the lead instructor of the ethics of ai- mooc, a free online course provided by University of Helsinki.

When? Tue 21.9.2021 15.00 to 16.00 via Zoom

Where? Recording available on Unitube


Eeva Primmer, Research Director, Professor (SYKE)


Vilja Varho, Senior Scientist (Luke)

Stefan Fronzek, Senior Research Scientist (SYKE)

Francesco Minunno, Postdoctoral Researcher (HELSUS)

Fu­tures research, fu­tures con­scious­ness, and the search for sustainable fu­tures, presenter Vilja Varho (Luke)

Abstract: Scenarios can be built and used in different ways. In this presentation, I take a look at some key elements of futures research, a scientific discipline aimed at studying and creating possible futures. It often relies on expert or stakeholder views, and in fact, one of the main targets is often to increase participants’ futures consciousness. Future is not set, and therefore there are multiple futures. It is not about foretelling but increasing foresight, the ability to anticipate, prepare for and influence the future as it unfolds. Futures research often has a normative aspect: to identify sustainable or desired futures and find steps towards them.

Bio: Vilja Varho is a Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). She is a Doctor of Agriculture and Forestry (env.sci) and holds a title of Docent in futures research in the University of Turku. She has focused mainly on climate and renewable energy but has also taken her expertise in futures research methods to other topics when needed, such as horticulture and insect economy. She has been keen to include different stakeholders in building scenarios. Varho currently leads co-creation work in a project that focuses on sustainability transition in food packaging.

Scen­arios to pre­pare for cli­mate change risks, presenter Stefan Fronzek (SYKE)

Abstract: Scenarios are key tools in climate change research and are instrumental for the development of efficient climate change mitigation and adaptation policy. A scenario framework currently widely used in climate research defines so-called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) that depict alternative, plausible futures as global narratives and with quantifications of key socio-economic variables. The SSPs can also be extended to better account for regional and sectoral detail, hence offering a consistent global framework that allows for such regional studies to be inter-compared.

Five SSPs have been developed, labelled SSP1-SSP5, that provide a wide range of socio-economic developments throughout the 21st century. These can be used to consider a range of challenges to adaptation and mitigation policy under a changing climate. SSPs can also be used alongside normative scenarios or visions of sustainable development to identify what measures might be effective in and across SSP worlds for approaching such visions. This may be easier to achieve in some SSP worlds (for example in SSP1, which describes a sustainability pathway) than in others. This presentation will provide an overview of the SSP framework and its application in climate change research, with regional examples from stakeholder-led processes in Finland. Bio: Stefan Fronzek (PhD) is a Senior Research Scientist at the Climate Change Programme of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). He has 20 years of experience in climate change impact and vulnerability assessments, modelling of impacts and adaptation, and climate and socio-economic scenario development. Sectorial foci are on biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, hydrology, human health as well as multi-sector analysis in Finland, Europe and subarctic and Arctic regions.

Bio: Stefan Fronzek (PhD) is a Senior Research Scientist at the Climate Change Programme of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). He has 20 years of experience in climate change impact and vulnerability assessments, modelling of impacts and adaptation, and climate and socio-economic scenario development. Sectorial foci are on biodiversity, agriculture, forestry, hydrology, human health as well as multi-sector analysis in Finland, Europe and subarctic and Arctic regions.

Sim­u­lat­ing the im­pact of cli­mate change and man­age­ment on Finnish forests. Scen­ario analysis and un­cer­tainty quan­ti­fic­a­tion, presenter Francesco Min­unno (HELSUS)

Abstract: The increased prominence of forests in climate change mitigation and bio economy strategies, and the rising importance of sustainability in forest policies brings new challenges for forest management. At the same time, forests are facing environmental challenges due to changing climatic conditions (e.g. storms, drought, pest attacks) and there is a growing demand for both wood and non-wood forest products.

Process-based forest models are valuable tools that enable forecasting the impact of different management interventions on land use planning. Climate change and management scenarios must be integrated in the modelling frameworks in order to identify the trade-offs between carbon, biodiversity and wood production.

However model simulations are always associated with multiple sources of uncertainty, such as parametric, input and initialization uncertainty. Identifying and quantifying the different sources of uncertainty is crucial for evaluating the reliability and robustness of model predictions and highlighting any weaknesses of the model/scenario framework.

In addition the model/scenario framework should be seen as a dynamic system that can be continuously updated every time new data becomes available. By means of data assimilation it is possible to integrate in the system data from multiple sources increasing the accuracy and reducing the uncertainty of model simulations. We provide an example of data assimilation using advanced Earth Observation (EO) measurements. Repeated measurements of EOs are integrated in a modelling framework for spatially explicit monitoring and mapping of forest growth and carbon sequestration in Finland.

Bio: Francesco Minunno (PhD) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Forest Sciences. His background is in Forest sciences and his research field is forest modelling. Since his PhD he applied modern computational techniques (e.g., Bayesian statistics, data assimilation, sensitivity and uncertainty analysis) to forest modelling. The major contribution of his research has been in integrating data and models in order to refine model predictions and reduce model forecast uncertainties. His work also focuses on forest model applications to evaluate the impact of alternative management prescriptions under changing environmental conditions.

When? Tue 20.4.2021 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Recording will also be available later.

Recording available on Unitube.


Katriina Soini (Luke)


Angela Moriggi (Luke)

Jaana Laine (HELSUS)

Taru Peltola (SYKE)

Care to trans­form? An eth­ics of care-in­spired frame­work to study sustainable change, presenter An­gela Moriggi

In recent years, the concept of ‘care’ has entered the sustainability science debate. Its proponents argue that a caring paradigm can inspire sustainable change, by helping us to rethink relations, with both humans and non-humans. Based on the findings of her PhD research, the presenter will draw from the ethics of care literature to introduce the basic tenets of a caring paradigm, as well as a novel analytical framework and its application to the phenomena of Green Care practices in Finland. Green Care refers to nature-based activities aimed at well-being, social inclusion, recreation, and pedagogy of different target groups. The framework reveals unexplored aspects of change-oriented practices, and appears like a promising tool to be applied to a variety of contexts, from sustainable place-based activities to action-research and teaching arenas.

Bio: Angela Moriggi is a social scientist working for transdisciplinary sustainability projects since 2013, with extensive fieldwork experience in Finland, Italy, and China. She is currently Research Fellow at the Dept. of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Padua (IT), and will defend her PhD in June 2021 with the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University (NE). She was recently granted with a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship to study transformative social innovation in rural areas using co-creative visioning processes. She has solid experience with participatory and action-oriented approaches, including arts-based methods. Alongside her scientific work, Angela is committed to process design and facilitation and to science dissemination (via storytelling and audiovisual channels).

Hu­man-forest re­la­tion­ship – one way to un­der­stand more, presenter Jaana Laine

Forest is an inherent part of the Finnish culture. For centuries we have utilized forests in various ways, either in with subtle and respecting tones or more or less exploitative activities. The way we act and utilize forests reflects our attitudes and values to forests, our human-forest relationship. According to the National Forest Strategy 2025, ‘the perspectives of cultural sustainability and relationship to forests will outline the use of forests in a completely new way’. The strategy also points out the need to understand how the interaction between human and forest elaborates e.g. policy-related decision making and forest-related activities.

Laine will discuss the concept human-forest relationship and how it is adopted in some ongoing research projects. The presentation is based on a meeting taken place in Lusto Finnish Forest Museum last Autumn when over 30 researchers representing altogether 26 research projects gathered to discuss their connections to the human-forest relationship. Resulting this first meeting, research connected to the concept of the human-forest relationship has been organized both as an open research network and as a club of the Finnish Society of Forest Science.

Bio: Jaana Laine (M.Sc. in Forestry, D.Soc.Sci) is a senior lecturer at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Programme in Society and Change. Her lecturing consists of various themes of economic and social history and environmental history. Her research has focused on forest history, mainly timber trade, forest work and trade unions, and the history of forest research. Recently, she has concentrated on citizens’ interaction with forests, in research project Human-forest relationship in societal change

From re­la­tion­ships to com­pan­ion­ships: ”Be­com­ing with” biod­iversity in forestry, presenter Taru Peltola

In addition to protected areas, biodiversity loss in boreal forests has been tackled with measures targeted at privately owned commercial forests. Leaving various ”valuable natural objects” untouched during clear cutting and other forestry operations became compulsory in Finland in the mid 1990s. In addition, a voluntary protection program was permanently established in 2008. During 2010-2012 I conducted fieldwork among forestry professionals implementing these forest biodiversity policies in forest companies and public organisations, supporting landowners who are ultimately responsible for sustainable forestry. Protecting biodiversity requires that endangered species, their habitats and structural features that are valuable to species richness are made visible and present on data bases, maps, and eventually secured in the forests.

Peltola followed how the forestry professionals, who did not have background in biology, worked out specific “valuable natural objects” defined in legislation and scientific criteria for voluntary protection. Peltola found out that in addition to various textual, administrative and field practices, there were corporeal processes involved. Forestry professionals needed to adjust their performance to (the uncertain presence of) a diverging set of natural objects. This bodily “attuning” involved learning to move in the forest in a new way, with more wary eyes. In this talk Peltola will give insights about such corporeal processes of living with other bodies/species. For this she draws inspiration from scholars who have discussed human-nature relationships in terms of companionships that demand accommodation of humans to the ecologies of species and habitats. She will also discuss vulnerabilities related to conservation building on such “practical sense” of other beings.

Bio: Taru Peltola is an associate professor (social sustainability) at the Finnish Environment Institute, Program for Environmental Information, and University of Eastern Finland, Department of Geographical and Historical Studies. Her research interests include transforming expertise and practices of knowing and governing nature. She has covered a wide range of topics from forest biodiversity to human-wildlife cohabitation and sustainable food and waste management. She is currently working on collaborative science in environmental policy.

When? Tue 23.3.2021 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Recording will also be available later.

Where? Recording available on Unitube.


Eeva Primmer, Research director, Professor (SYKE)


Laura Kaikkonen, Doctoral Student (HELSUS) 

Riku Varjopuro, Head of unit at Marine Research Centre (SYKE)

Matti Salo, Senior researcher (Luke)

Chart­ing the risks of Blue Growth, presenter Laura Kaikkonen (HELSUS)

Economic development and human activities in the ocean are accelerating rapidly, introducing seas and oceans to a new phase of large-scale industrialization. This expansion of the 'Blue Economy' is embodied through growth in existing industries and the emergence of new ones, spanning a diverse range of activities which introduce new and complex risks to already overburdened marine ecosystems. In parallel, expectations for the ocean to sustain the future needs of human societies are increasing.

Uncertainty regarding the environmental impacts of human activities in the marine realm is a key concern impeding the sustainable Blue Economy, and failing to broadly consider the risks may lead to unbridled expansion of maritime sectors with negative consequences for both the environment and society. To support transparent marine governance, it is essential to better understand the risks of emerging industries and how they are viewed. In this talk, Laura Kaikkonen will give an overview of the recent human expansion into the ocean and the associated environmental impacts, focusing on the knowledge requirements and approaches for estimating the risks of human activities in the Baltic Sea.  

Bio: Laura Kaikkonen is a doctoral student in interdisciplinary environmental sciences at the University of Helsinki, currently working at the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. Her research deals with ecological risks of human activities on marine ecosystems, with a particular focus on emerging maritime industries and how people perceive the risks associated with them. 

Jazz band dynamics to co­ordin­ate mar­ine governance, presenter Riku Var­jop­uro (SYKE)

The many uses and services of marine areas and resources imply competition for both resources and space. In addition, human activities at sea and on land have multiple detrimental effects on the marine environments. Sustainability challenges related to the seas are well recorded and they have been addressed by various agreements and policies already for decades. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life below water, further promoted joint actions for improved sustainability, but the problems remain severe. A key question is why current governance arrangements have failed, allowing problems to exacerbate, and what can be done to remedy the situation.

Riku Varjopuro focus in the presentation on one of the main reasons for the failure, namely the fragmentation of marine governance. There are multiple governing authorities on various levels that deal with maritime sectors and environmental issues, but none has the exclusive authority to coordinate them. A sustainability transformation requires governance approaches that recognise the diversity of the marine contexts within which they are managed.

This presentation does not propose one unified framework as a solution to the fragmentation. Instead, the existing polycentric governance systems are taken as starting points for improved coordination. Progress can be made by effective implementation of formal agreements, but when no one has the exclusive authority there is a need also for indirect, soft means of governance such as inducements and incentives rather than mandatory controls. Such approach to governance is ‘orchestration’. Improved coordination is then not about finding the powerful conductor but rather about developing conductorless jazz with variations on the themes and improvisation. The presentation analyses three recent examples with the potential of orchestrating within the polycentric marine governance. The examples are ‘Pledge and review system for the SDG 14’, ‘A global commission and guidelines on sustainability and equity’, and ‘An ocean action agenda by the High-level Panel for Sustainable Blue Economy’.

Bio: Riku Varjopuro is leading an interdisciplinary unit for Sustainable Use of the Sea Areas at SYKE’s Marine Research Center. The unit is dedicated to producing scientific evidence and expert advice to maritime spatial planning and nature conservation at sea. During his more than 20 years’ experience in numerous national and international projects he has gained substantial expertise in marine and maritime issues. The projects have addressed marine environmental issues such as coastal management, environmental regulation of aquaculture, interactions between environment and fisheries and, most recently, EU marine protection policies and maritime spatial planning (MSP). His work has focused especially on the practices of decision making and planning, and he has also taken part in and coordinated policy evaluation processes. In recent years he has gained substantial expertise in practices of cross-border collaboration in MSP and has developed methodologies for evaluating effectiveness of MSP. In 2019-2020 he worked the HELCOM Secretariat to support the Baltic Sea countries’ collaboration in MSP.

Sustainability as a governance im­per­at­ive: spa­ti­al­ity of fish farm­ing on the Baltic Sea coast of South­w­est Fin­land, presenter Matti Salo (Luke)

The fundamental offer of the bioeconomy is to produce more material and non-material wellbeing with lesser impact on ecosystems. This is a contested proposal, particularly regarding the production of goods. One key arena for the development of the bioeconomy are the marine ecosystems, and marine fish farming is a branch of bioeconomy with high growth potential worldwide. Sustainability is a core imperative and an institutional practice that steers contemporary societal action including governance of industries such as fish farming. Luke explore the constituents of the spontaneusly emerging and built-in sustainability institutions of fish farming on the Southwest Finland’s Baltic Sea coast, with particular emphasis on spatial planning. The empirical materials consist of a spatial data set on the key environmental features of the coastal areas and the results of a map-based web survey. On the basis of these materials we identify spatial dimensions of the institutions of fish farming sustainability on the Baltic Sea coast of southwest Finland. Matti Salo discuss how these institutions function to enable and constrain the fish farming as an bioeconomy industry.

Authors: Matti Salo, Lauri Niskanen, Kristina Svels, Juha Hiedanpää & Pekka Jounela Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Bio: Dr. Matti Salo is a senior researcher at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and docent of Biodiversity and Natural Resources Governance at the University of Turku. His research focuses on the interlinkages of natural and societal phenomena related to the use of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity. His current and past research topics include, e.g., human-wildlife interactions, spatial planning, wild species harvest, forestry, aquaculture, protected areas, nature-based tourism, and artisanal and small scale mining. Salo also has a history of about twenty years of research related to Latin America, particularly Amazonia.

When? Tue 16.2.2021 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.

Recording available on Unitube.


Anne Toppinen, HELSUS Director, Professor


Henrik Heräjärvi, Senior Scientist (Luke)

Enni Ruokamo, Researcher (SYKE) 

Florencia Franzini, Doctoral Student (HELSUS)

Re­cycled wood as a low-emis­sion fur­nish­ing ma­ter­ial, presenter Hen­rik Her­äjärvi (Luke)

Wood is hygroscopic material, i.e., its moisture content (MC) depends on the relative humidity (RH) and temperature (T) of the surrounding air. Approximately 2-5 per cent of the dry mass of wood consists of phenolic compounds, extractives. There are hundreds of different kinds of extractives in wood, and some volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) emit from wood already in room temperature. VOC’s are important quality parameters of materials used indoors, since they may have effects on health and well-being. Standard emission tests of materials are carried out in a constant RH of 50% and T of +23 °C, thus not accounting for the hygroscopic behaviour of wood. While the indoor T remains quite constant throughout the year, the RH varies from approx. 15% (winter, central heating on) to 80% (late summer - early autumn) between the seasons. Due to its hygroscopicity, the MC of wood dynamically follows the indoor air RH variation, reaching a level of <10% in the dry season and >15% in the humid season. The seasonal variation pumps VOC’s out of wood, causing the total emission concentration to decrease as a function of time.

A recently finished consortium of Luke and University of Eastern Finland, HUMIWOOD, investigated the VOC emissions from Scots pine wood that had been stored indoors for approximately 15 years, and compared the results with the findings from recently sawn Scots pine wood. Both heartwood and sapwood were investigated. For the first time, controlled emission tests were carried out in air RH conditions ranging from 20 to 80 per cent, imitating the indoor air seasonal RH variations. In addition, PESTEL analysis was carried out to assess the Political, Economic, Societal, Technical, Environmental, and Legislative challenges for the use of wooden construction and demolition wastes in applications interacting with indoor air.

The results confirmed the hypothesis that indoor air RH, as well as the storage history of the specimen, play a great role in the total VOC emission rate. The compounds emitted also differ between the “new” and “old” materials and depend on the air RH. The information and understanding created in HUMIWOOD contribute to the development of VOC test methods of hygroscopic materials. Information can be immediately applied in furnishing material development for allergy homes or other emission sensitive spaces, such as healthcare centres. The results are not restricted to the context of timber construction, since wood is a common furniture, flooring, and paneling material independently from the structural materials used in buildings.

Authors: Henrik Heräjärvi 1), Anni Harju1), Marko Hyttinen2), Joona Lampela2), Veikko Möttönen1), Pertti Pasanen2), Arttu Sivula2) 1) Natural Resources Institute Finland, 2) University of Eastern Finland

Bio: Dr. Henrik Heräjärvi is specialized in wood science and technology, wood product development, wood modification, timber construction, circular economy, clean technologies, and innovation management, and published over 250 papers on the topics. He has worked as a research scientist at Luke (and its predecessor organization Metla) since 1998. He defended his DSc. thesis at the University of Eastern Finland in 2002 and received a title of docent (wood technology) at the same university in 2007. In addition to RDI work, he has been a visiting lecturer in total of seven European universities and universities of applied science since late 1990s.

Con­struc­tion sec­tor per­cep­tions of low car­bon policies and meas­ures , presenter Enni Ruokamo (SYKE)

European Commission aims for a near-complete decarbonisation of the EU’s building sector by 2050. To meet this target EU countries have developed several policies and measures to promote low carbon construction and housing. In new construction, the focus is shifting from operational emissions towards a life-cycle perspective, encompassing the building embodied emissions. Finland, along with France, Sweden and Holland, aims to start a normative regulation of the new building life-cycle carbon footprint. European Commission has also established an EN-standard-based building sustainability assessment framework Level(s), which includes the building life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. The Finnish building carbon footprint assessment method is based on the Level(s) framework.

The purpose of this study is to investigate how different actors in the Finnish construction sector perceive the new low carbon policies and measures. To examine the perceptions and factors driving them, we utilize a rich survey data collected from the Finnish construction sector actors. The preliminary findings indicate that low-carbon development of the sector was important to most construction sector actors. On the other hand, some factors, such as low maintenance costs and indoor air quality were stated as more important determinants in construction than low carbon emissions. Carbon footprint policies that limit the life-cycle emissions of buildings were mostly seen as at least moderately functional policies. However, the footprint policies also faced notable criticism from the actors. Our study contributes to the understanding of the perceptions of the construction sector on the decarbonisation policies and especially on the novel carbon footprint measures. This allows us to assess also the development needs of the methodologies used in those policies.

Bio:  Enni Ruokamo (D.Sc. in Economics) works as a Researcher in the Programme for Sustainable Circular Economy at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). She has several research interests including low carbon policies, green technology adoption, energy consumption behavior, and circular economy solutions. She is a WP co-lead in the Strategic Research Council (SRC) project DECARBON-HOME focusing on climate-wise housing and a WP leader in the SRC project BCDC Energy focusing on cost-efficient integration of renewable energy technologies.

A sustainability tradeoff? Per­cep­tions from mu­ni­cipal civil ser­vants com­par­ing wooden- and con­crete- multistory build­ings, presenter Floren­cia Fran­zini (HELSUS)

When a municipal civil servant responsible for land use planning considers implementing a multistory building in their municipality, does the buildings frame material affect the civil servants’ perceptions towards the building? For example, are concrete multistory buildings seen to possess different qualities or attributes than wooden multistory buildings? I will share results from a national level survey that asked more than 270 municipal civil servants what they believe about these two building types. It turns out that attributes related especially with economic and environmental dimensions tend to be perceived differently, therefore, each building is perceived to come with its own set of beneficial tradeoffs. 

Bio:  Florencia Franzini (M.Sc. in Forest economics and marketing) is a doctoral student researcher from the University of Helsinki. The doctoral dissertation investigates the role Finnish municipalities play in the implementation and development of wooden multistory buildings across Finland. The research examines perceptions municipal civil servant hold about wooden multistory buildings, as well as other perceptions related to the implementation of these building 

When? Wed 11.11.2020 3 to 4 p.m.

Recording available on Unitube. 


  • Ilkka Leinonen, Research Professor(Luke)
  • Hanna Koivula, University Lecturer (HELSUS)
  • Pinja Näkki, Researcher (SYKE)

Present­a­tion ab­stracts

Plastic lit­ter in the mar­ine en­vir­on­ment – causes and con­sequences, presenter Pinja Näkki (SYKE)

The concerns and public debate related to marine litter revolve around plastic, since it forms most of all marine litter. Its predominance as a material among other types of litter is a consequence of many factors: the wide application in the society, ever-growing production volumes, irresponsible consumer behavior, lack of proper waste management practices and persistence to degradation. Not only does plastic litter threat the wildlife, it also causes economical and societal harm. While the impacts of visible, large macroplastics have been recognized since the 1970s, microplastics rose into the limelight only in the 21st century and the evidence for their effects is still partially limited. In this presentation, I will give a short overview on the origin of the plastic litter problem and the currently known impacts and potential risks of plastics in the marine environment.

Bio: Pinja Näkki works as a researcher in the Marine Research Centre at the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE. Her research focuses on microplastics, and currently she is finishing her doctoral thesis on the fate and impacts of microplastics on the seafloor. In addition, she has been involved in various projects related to the sources, abundance and effects of marine litter in the Baltic Sea and participated in environmental education and public outreach related to these issues.

Are bio-based pack­aging materials more en­vir­on­ment­ally friendly than fossil plastics?, presenter Ilkka Leinonen (LUKE)

Bio-based materials have generally a “green” image when they are compared to plastics. It is often thought that when materials come from renewable sources, also their environmental impacts are minimal. However, such ideas may not always be based on actual scientific facts. In this presentation, results from wide range of recent scientific studies are presented, showing comparisons between bio-based and fossil materials as carried out using the methodology of environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The results show that biomaterials indeed have environmental benefits, but also environmental problems that people are not always aware of. Furthermore, the presentation demonstrates the complexity associated with the environmental impact assessment of different materials. Especially the issues related to carbon sequestration and biogenic carbon storage are problematic, as there is a wide range of methodological choices needed when the environmental impacts are evaluated, and the results can be strongly dependent on such choices.

Bio: Ilkka Leinonen works as a Research Professor at the Bioeconomy and Environment research unit of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Prof. Leinonen has long experience in applying and further developing systems modelling-based Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods for quantifying the environmental impacts and resource use of food chains and investigating options for improving their environmental sustainability. Prof Leinonen has background in ecology and environmental sciences, and his earlier work includes development of process-based models for carbon cycles, as well as mechanistic models for energy balance and nutrient dynamics.

Plastics in food pack­aging, presenter Hanna Koivula (HELSUS)

Food is a necessity for human life. It is our fuel, source of enjoyment and central point for our social interactions. We have become more aware of how our food consumption has consequences for sustainability. The construction of our current food supply system heavily relies on packaging to protect the journey of food and to ensure the quality and safety of our food. It is essential to the way our food reaches our homes and eventually our mouths. Food comes in variety of shapes, colors, combination and consistencies. Each food has unique properties that need to be protected. Plastic is one category of materials that we use to protect our food on this journey. Why do we use it? How should we use it and what should we do to enhance sustainability of plastics for food packaging?

Bio: D.Sc. (Tech.) Hanna Koivula is a university lecturer in packaging technology at the department of Food and Nutrition, University of Helsinki.  The various research topics in her career have revolved around material science, surface interactions, transfer phenomena and complex applications and problems requiring collaboration between different fields of science. Therefore, she finds that packaging technology and research topics especially in food packaging are a great field to be working on. Her current focus is food-packaging interactions from material and food science points of view.

Local sustainable en­ergy solu­tions

Watch recording here. 

When: Wed 7.10.2020 from 3 to 4 p.m.

How to participate? Due to the COVID-19 situation, the events will be held via Zoom until further notice. Recording will also be available later.


  • Erika Winquist, Senior Scientist (Luke)
  • Eeva-Lotta Apajalahti, Research Coordinatior, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
  • Santtu Karhinen, Researcher (SYKE)

Present­a­tion ab­stracts

Bio­gas as part of de­cent­ral­ized re­new­able en­ergy sys­tem, presenter Erika Win­quist (Luke)

How is biogas produced and from which raw materials? How can we use biogas and what could be the role of biogas in the future decentralized renewable energy system in Finland? The opportunities and challenges of biogas production and use were investigated during FutWend-project (2016 - 2019), Towards a future-oriented “Energiewende”, funded by Academy of Finland. The presentation summarizes the key findings from forerunner interviews, business model analysis, and webropol query carried out during the project. In addition, few examples are given from current existing farm-scale biogas plants and their business models.

Bio: Erika Winquist works as Senior Scientist in Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Biorefinery and Bioproducts research group. She has several research interests all related to circular economy such as sustainable and resource efficient use of agricultural biomasses, and production of biogas and recycled nutrients.

De­vel­op­ment of the city en­ergy sys­tem. From dis­trib­uted local prac­tices to large-scale sys­tem and back again?, presenter Eeva-Lotta Apa­ja­lahti (HELSUS)

To be able to change and shape the current city energy systems towards more sustainable and renewable-based energy systems, it is important to know the history. The energy system of the City of Helsinki has developed to its current form from the early decades of 20th century when heating of the buildings and electricity production was block specific to a large-scale energy system with several fossil fuel based power plants. Strategic plans of carbon neutrality of the city of Helsinki is driving changes towards renewable and distributed energy system. I will shortly guide us through the development of the city energy system and give examples of the recent local energy solutions in the city context.

Bio: Eeva-Lotta Apajalahti works as a research coordinator at HELSUS. Her research focuses on energy transition, sustainability transitions, inertia and path dependency of energy systems, socio-cultural framing of technology and emergence of technological fields. Her work as a research coordinator focuses on developing inter- and intradisciplinary research collaboration, science-policy interaction and increasing the societal impact of sustainability research.

Regional em­ploy­ment and emis­sion re­duc­tion po­ten­tial of dis­trib­uted re­new­able en­ergy solu­tions in Fin­land, presenter Santtu Kar­hinen (SYKE)

Abstract: Utilization of distributed renewable energy sources is one of the key factors in achieving carbon neutrality. In this study we take national estimates and targets related to the deployment of wind power, solar power, ground-source heat pumps and air-source heat pumps as given, and the national figures are separated into regional renewable energy potentials in 18 regions in the mainland of Finland based on regional building stock characteristics and weather conditions. The energy potentials are translated into required investments, which in turn create regional employment possibilities. Emission reduction potentials are calculated for each renewable energy source with econometric methods. Lastly, investigated renewable energy sources are compared by the prices of reduced emissions and employment per invested euros. The purpose of the comparison is to provide information on the most cost-efficient ways to reduce regional CO2 emissions, while simultaneously producing information on the creation of green jobs.

Bio: Santtu Karhinen (M. Sc. in Economics) works as a researcher in Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production at the Finnish Environment Institute. His main research focus is on the integration of variable renewable energy sources into power systems in cost efficient ways, which are related to electricity demand response, pricing and storage. He has also worked for the Hinku network in multiple regional development projects and in the Canemure (Towards carbon neutral municipalities and regions) project, where he has conducted regional economic impact assessments and developed calculation of municipal greenhouse gas emission inventories. He is currently finalizing his doctoral thesis on the economics of power market flexibility.

Clean En­vir­on­ment and Health

Watch the recording of the event from Unitube.


When: Mon 14.9.2020 from 3 to 4 p.m.

How to participate? Due to the COVID-19 situation, the events will be held via Zoom until further notice. Recording will also be available later.


  • Mira Grönroos, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
  • Marko Tainio, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
  • Ann Ojala, Research scientists (Luke)

Present­a­tion ab­stracts

Ef­fects of natural mi­cro­bi­ota on hu­man mi­cro­bi­ota and health, Mira Grön­roos (HELSUS)

Immune-mediated diseases, such as allergy and asthma, have increased among urban populations in recent decades. It has been suggested that one of the main reasons for this increase is the reduced microbial diversity in urban environments, which prevents immune system to develop properly. Correlative studies conducted in the ADELE project and other projects in Nature-Based Solutions Research Group at the University of Helsinki have shown that living in rural areas increases the resident’s exposure on diverse microbiota compared to more urban areas and that vegetation diversity and land use around homes affect human microbiota. Experimental studies have shown encouraging results: contacts to natural materials with diverse microbial communities have modified human microbiota and functioning of the human immune system. Results of the ADELE project have now led to development of new consumer products containing additional nature exposure to support the normal development of immune system. 

Bio: Mira Grönroos a post-doctoral researcher in Nature-Based Solutions Research Group at the University of Helsinki. Mira has been working in the ADELE project that aims to find solutions to balance and enhance the function of human immune system. Currently, she is working in the NATUREWELL project that studies how interacting with nature affects young urban people and their microbiota, health and well-being. The project studies various outdoor activities to identify attractive and efficient solutions to increase the opportunities to gain health and well-being benefits from interaction with nature.

Trans­port, en­vir­on­ment and health: Im­prov­ing health through travel mode shift?, Marko Tainio (SYKE)

Transport is significant source of air pollution, noise, collisions and greenhouse gas emissions with direct and indirect impact for human wellbeing. Past studies from Finland have estimated that traffic related air pollution, noise and collisions cause annually 208, 90 and 200 fatalities, respectively. At the same time active transport, walking and cycling, have positive impact for health through increased physical activity, with possibly hundreds of premature deaths prevented every year. This indicate that mode shift from motorized transport for walking and cycling could have large positive impact for the health. In this presentation I will present two examples on how mode sift to cycling, caused by the implementation of the bike sharing systems in Barcelona and London, have impacted human wellbeing through changes in physical activity, air pollution and collisions.

Bio: Marko Tainio (docent, DSc, PhD) is an acting director of the Sustainable Urban Programme at Finnish Environment Institute SYKE. Marko’s background is in environmental science and environment & health, especially within the topic of transport, environment and health. For past ten years his special focus has been cycling and health, which he has studied by using computer modelling and Health Impact Assessment (HIA) methods. Before joining SYKE in summer 2019 Marko was Senior Research Associate in the University of Cambridge, England (2013-2019), assistant professor is the Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland (2009-2013), and researcher in the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland (2002-2011).


What is known about the ef­fects of nature on men­tal health and how these ef­fects are stud­ied?, Ann Ojala (Luke)

Mental health is determined by the individual, socio-cultural and environmental factors. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest among researchers to study the effects of environmental factors on mental health. This interest is partly related to the urbanization and (often not positive) changes in human living environment. However, our knowledge about how environmental factors are related to mental health is fragmented, and this topic would need more attention than it has received so far.  The modern technological solutions offer improvements in this research area, for example to conduct studies in different settings (e.g. outside laboratory) or to simulate nature experiences indoors. In addition, there is a risen capability to collect and combine data from different sources. In this presentation, I concentrate on the research about nature’s effects on human health and well-being, especially on mental health. I present, how these effects are studied, and what are the current problems and knowledge gaps. The presentation includes research examples from Finland and Luke.

Bio: Ann Ojala, DSocSc, is a Research Scientist at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Her research focuses on health and well-being benefits of nature and human relationship with nature.

Listen to the recorded seminar here. 

When: Tue 28.4.2020, from 3 to 4 p.m. 

How to participate? The event will be only streamed with Zoom (streaming link below). You can send questions in the Zoom chat. The chair of the event will read the comments and questions aloud. 

Streaming link

Chair: Anne Toppinen, HELSUS


  • Henrikki Tenkanen, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science
  • Antti Rehunen, Finnish Environment Institute
  • Anna Repo, Natural Resources Institute Finland

Present­a­tion ab­stracts

To­wards more sustainable cities with data? The role of spa­tial data ana­lyt­ics, Hen­rikki Ten­kanen (HELSUS)

Societies are facing many complex challenges such as climate change and growing urban and social inequalities in which transportation plays a key role. The developments in Information and Communication Technologies and the “mass-use” of digital devices in everyday life has practically exploded the amount if digital data in the world. This avalanche of data has made it possible to examine various phenomena such as urban transport and mobility in a new and meaningful way. Data collected by public transportation system, shared bicycles and individual mobile devices combined with advanced spatial data analytics and modelling makes it possible to better understanding of the sustainability of the urban transportation system, from the viewpoint of CO2 emissions as well as health and wellbeing.  


In this presentation, we will present our recent advances in developing new measures and methodologies to evaluate and analyse accessibility and mobility from the aforementioned aspects.


Bio: Henrikki Tenkanen is a postdoctoral researcher and geospatial data scientist at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London. Henrikki is one o f the founding members of the Digital Geography Lab (University of Helsinki) where he conducted his PhD and first post-doctoral period prior to moving to UK. Henrikki’s current research focuses on developing models and analytical tools to assess environmental costs of spatial accessibility and mobility using big data.  

Cli­mate im­pacts of urban land use and mo­bil­ity, presenter Antti Re­hunen (SYKE)

The development of urban areas has many climate impacts. Emissions are caused by daily mobility, energy use in the built environment, and construction of new buildings and infrastructure. Urban form affects emission levels particularly regarding mobility patterns, infrastructure needs and land use changes. In sparsely built car-dependent areas on urban outskirts, average emissions from daily travel are manifold compared to dense core areas with many mobility options. Densely built areas and infill development reduce emissions from infrastructure and save the carbon sinks and storages of nature areas. In my presentation, I examine how GIS-based spatial delineations can be used as tools in the assessment of emissions. Spatial delineations include e.g. localities and travel-related urban zones. On the basis of existing survey data and research literature, emission factors can be calculated for different area types and applied in the assessment and planning. Assessments indicate that emphasis in sustainable urban planning should lie in infill development, locating jobs and services close to public transport hubs and avoiding the expansion of car-dependent zones. 

Bio: Antti Rehunen works as a senior researcher in the Land Use Management Unit in SYKE’s environmental policy centre. He is specialized in GIS-based analysis on urban land use and spatial structure. Antti has developed indicators for sustainable urban form and regional land use and applied spatial delineations in monitoring and assessment. He is responsible for the maintenance of Eco-tool KEKO which is a web-based assessment tool for the eco-efficiency of land use plans, covering CO2 emissions and used by many cities in Finland.

Trade-offs and syn­er­gies in land-based cli­mate change mit­ig­a­tion and biod­iversity con­ser­va­tion, presenter Anna Repo (Luke)

The way we use and manage land holds the solutions to limit the global warming to well below 2 °C and to halt biodiversity loss. Meeting the climate goals set in the Paris Agreement requires a rapid reduction in the net CO2 emissions, but also CO2 removal from the atmosphere, i.e. negative emissions. The land use sector contributes to meeting the climate goals in two ways. First, by providing bioenergy to replace fossil fuels, and by producing negative emissions if bioenergy production is combined with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Second, by sequestering and storing carbon in vegetation and soil. Currently, natural carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems removes approximately one third of the annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Both abovementioned land-based climate change mitigation options are likely to have trade-offs and synergies with biodiversity conservation. Identifying and quantifying these trade-offs and synergies is challenging because of the context-dependency of these relationships, and systemic effects as the impacts may occur with a time delay, or change land-use in other parts of the globe. In this presentation I will present our past and ongoing research that addresses these challenges.

Bio: Anna Repo is post-doctoral researcher funded by the Academy of Finland in Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Her research focuses on finding solutions on how land can be used for both climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. She has expertise in forest carbon cycle modelling, climate impact assessment, ecosystem service and biodiversity modelling as well on the sustainability assessment of bioenergy. She holds a degree of Doctor of Science (Tech.) in Systems analysis and Operations Research, and a master’s degree in Environmental Science.

Listen to the recorded seminar here. 

When: Thu 26.3.2020, from 3 to 4 p.m. 

Where: The event will be only online streamed (streaming link below). You can send questions in Twitter with the hashtag #viikkisr. We are following the messages through the event!

Streaming link


  • Heikki Lehtonen, Natural Resources Institute Finland
  • Iryna Herzon, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science
  • Tuomas Mattila, Finnish Environment Institute

Present­a­tion ab­stracts

Sustainable in­tens­i­fic­a­tion in ag­ri­cul­ture: im­plic­a­tions for the farm eco­nomy and ag­ri­cul­tural sec­tor, presenter Heikki Le­htonen (Luke)

Sustainable intensification of agriculture is considered one key opportunity and challenge in the attempt to respond to environmental challenges and global increase in food demand. How to produce more food in more sustainable way is dependent on productivity development and utilization of farm inputs, e.g. agricultural land, fertilisers and labour, more effectively. In other words, sustainable intensification means more production with less inputs, without affecting environment and climate negatively. This presentation outlines how these targets can be met under certain conditions and shows opportunities from farm economic point of view. The economic modelling based analysis assumes that economic net gains are decisive for farmers in their management and production decisions, while risk aversion plays a minor role. This means that the agricultural inputs are used as long as they are worth more than they cost and hence farmers must find feasible and profitable input use, land allocation and crop rotation choices to be able increase farm income. Environmental and climate effects of farm management are considered as well. If more productive farms using less inputs used per kg produced, important sector level implications will follow, conditional on consumer demand and agricultural policy reflecting societal preferences.

Bio: Heikki Lehtonen (D.Sc. in Eng.) works as a research professor in Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). He has worked with agricultural policy impact analysis using agricultural sector level modelling and farm level modelling for more than 20 years. The specific modelling challenge addressed in the doctoral dissertation (2001) was explicit consideration of farm structure change in dairy sector, i.e. endogenous technological change, in a recursive-dynamic agricultural sector model, still used and updated as a research tool in different research projects. Since 2000 Lehtonen has repeatedly addressed agri-environmental topics such as water protection, biodiversity maintenance as well as adaptation to climate change and climate change mitigation. Most studies have been developed in close contact with agricultural stakeholders and agricultural administration. The results have been published and disseminated at national and European levels. Current research include various topics and approaches related to sustainable agriculture, e.g. projects DiverfarmingSTN SompaSTN Just-FoodDivCSAKOTIETU

What makes an­imal-based pro­duc­tion sustainable, presenter Iryna Herzon (Helsus)

There has been a lot of heated debate about the production and consumption of meat, milk and other animal-derived products in Finland. We need a holistic and rational outlook on the possibilities and limitations associated with the use of animals in agriculture. While even the most efficient production of animal-derived protein loses in comparison with plant-derived protein on several key environmental criteria, animal husbandry has a number of important environmental benefits. These arise under certain production conditions. In the talk, I summarise such benefits and outline research needs for Finland for establishing production conditions for the optimised trade-off between negatives and positives of animal production and consumption.

Bio: Dr. Iryna Herzon is a university lecturer in agroecology. She works in the field of sustainable agriculture, with the emphasis on ecology and social acceptability of conservation on in farmland. Most of her work is multidisciplinary, bridging disciplines across ecology, agronomy, social sciences, and economics.

Man­aging soil func­tions to solve environ­mental prob­lems, presenter Tuo­mas Mat­tila (SYKE)

Soil is under environmental pressure from different human activities. Widespread compaction, loss of diversity, erosion, and reduction in carbon stocks increase environmental problems through emissions. At  the same time, they limit soil functions such as nutrient and water cycling, carbon storage and biological community stabilization. These soil functions are also controlled by agricultural management actions related to tillage, crop rotation, machinery, fertilization, grazing and cover cropping, for example. Taking an ecosystem perspective allows soil managers to identify the current functioning of their soil and to identify measures to improve it over time. Increased infiltration, water storage, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration offers great potential for reducing the impact of many of the current environmental problems. In the presentation an overview of soil functions is presented, followed by examples from a multi-year soil health field experiment on 8 farms and ongoing research on c.a. 30 Carbon Action pilot farms.

Bio: Tuomas J. Mattila (Dr.Sc.Tech, M.Sc.Agric.) is a farmer working for the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE as a Senior Researcher. His research has focused on modeling of environmental systems ranging from soil processes to Baltic Sea foodwebs, transport systems and the Finnish Economy as a whole. A key focus in his research has been the boundary between human activity and the surrounding biosphere, and the way decisions are made to manage different ecosystems. In addition to his research activities, Tuomas manages his family farm, experimenting with new ecological agricultural practices and providing scientific extension services to the wider community. This work resulted in the WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the year award in 2018. Some links to current and recent projects: OSMO, Carbon Action, SOMPA

When: Tue 25.2.2020, from 3 to 4 p.m. 

Coffee will be served from 2:30 p.m. Researchers will be available for discussions until 4:30 p.m.

Where: Viikki, Kokoustamo, A4 (Street address Latokartanonkaari 9)

Chair: Jari Lyytimäki, senior researcher, Finnish Environment Institute


  • Eeva Furman, Chair of the Expert Panel for Sustainable Development, director of the Environmental Policy Center, Finnish Environment Institute
  • Katriina Siivonen, Member of the Expert Panel for Sustainable Development, professor of Futures Studies and Adjunct Professor in Cultural Heritage Studies at the University of Turku


  • Eija Pouta, Research professor, Natural Resources Institute Finland
  • Hanna Tuomisto, Associate Professor (Sustainable food systems), University of Helsinki
  • Paula Kivimaa, Research professor, Finnish Environment Institute

In the seminar the panelists from the Finnish expert panel on sustainable development will present the recently published analysis and recommendations about the Finnish pathways to sustainability transformation (website only in Finnish). It is based on the panel’s interpretation of the Global Sustainable Development Report’s (2019) findings in a Finnish context. Researchers from Luke, SYKE and HELSUS will comment on the analysis and the audience is invited to actively participate in the discussion and especially bring forward the possibilities of research to contribute to the pathways.

Ex­pert Panel for Sustainable De­vel­op­ment

The Finnish Expert Panel for Sustainable Development supports and challenges Finnish policy for sustainable development. They provide scientific knowledge and viewpoints to decision-making and bring complicated but critical issues to the public debate. The mission is to promote societal change that takes into account both the environment and human wellbeing. The panel aims at foreseeing development and strengthening long-term decision-making.

Watch recording of the seminar

When: Thu 30.1.2020, from 3 to 4 p.m. 

Coffee will be served from 2:30 p.m. Researchers will be available for discussions until 4:30 p.m.

Where: Viikki, Kokoustamo, A2 (Street address Latokartanonkaari 9)

Chair: Anne Toppinen Professor, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)


  • Christopher Raymond Professor, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and HELSUS
  • Marjo Neuvonen Research Scientist, Luke
  • Riikka Paloniemi Head of unit, Environmental Policy Center, Behavioral Change Unit, SYKE

Present­a­tion ab­stracts

Co-creating nature-based solu­tions to pro­mote car­bon neut­ral­ity, environ­mental justice and well-be­ing in urban areas: In­sights from across Europe, presenter Chris­topher Ray­mond, HELSUS

Nature-based solutions (NBS) have the potential for promoting transformations toward carbon neutrality and improving well-being across Europe; however, carbon benefits need to be considered with respect to the potential impacts on environmental justice.  This presentation will outline a framework for assessing the co-benefits and costs of NBS for promoting carbon neutrality, environmental justice and well-being in urban areas, and then provide case insights from various nature-based solutions projects across Europe.  Results indicate that while NBS hold much promise for carbon sequestration and subjective well-being, in some cases NBS can create issues of social exclusion, gentrification and access.  I will present some guidance on how environmental justice issues can be addressed through new forms of urban governance currently being trialled as part of the VIVA-PLAN project in case areas in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Malmö. 

Bio: Christopher Raymond is a Professor in Sustainability Transformations and Ecosystem Services at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. His research examines the multiple ways in which people value nature, and informs inclusive approaches to the management of protected areas and urban green areas. He leads the Social Values and Sustainability Transformations research group that develops inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches for eliciting social values for ecosystems and their services, and for promoting transformations toward sustainability. He coordinates the ENVISION project (funded by BiodivERsA), which aims to develop new participatory techniques for balancing diverse industry and community visions for protected area management. He also coordinates the VIVA-Plan project, which aims to develop a sustainable spatial planning framework for revitalising in-between spaces in urban areas for social inclusion, biodiversity and well-being, including safety and security.

Urban forests and nature as an en­vir­on­ment for res­id­ents phys­ical activ­ity: a case study from Helsinki, presenter Marjo Neuvonen, Luke

Inadequate physical activity (PA) is acknowledged as a key health risk factor both in Finland and in modern societies. Therefore, potential ways to increase PA at individual and population level is of high public health priority. Urban nature contributes to residents’ well-being in many ways including the reductions stressors and improving the urban resilience to climate change. Current research evidence indicates positive influence of nature on health and well-being through stress recovery, improved physical activity and social relationships.  

Luke has coordinated research based on both cross-sectional data and experimental studies on health and well-being effects of urban forests. The specific aim of this research is to study the importance of nature for promoting physical activity among the urban residents and to identify the attractive nature areas for PA, and the residents evaluated the valued properties and the development proposals of these areas.  

A public participatory GIS survey was conducted in three study areas of Helsinki in 2018. In total, 1106 residents responded to the survey, indicating 2598 places for their green exercise and outdoor recreation environments on the map. 

This study complements existing knowledge on the importance of the green environments: around 36 % of the residents’ spear time PA took place in nature environments. These areas were valued for their good accessibility, trails, sport facilities, possibilities for recreation, beautiful scenery, and possibilities for experience nature and silence. The estimated average distance to green exercise area was 1.28 km. 

These findings highlight the importance of green environments to residents’ wellbeing. The health and well-being of citizens can be supported by providing natural environments that support and motivate physical activity. Especially large green areas are important for the residents, as they offer opportunities for nature experiences and as well as places for different physical activities. 

Bio:  Marjo Neuvonen is research scientist at Luke and coordinates a nationwide survey on Finns' participation in outdoor activities (National outdoor recreation demand inventory, LVVI3). She is interested in developing statistics of outdoor recreation to support the decision making. Her work has focused on understanding the factors behind outdoor recreation visitation in the urban environment as well as in the context of national parks. 

Pro­mot­ing health and well-be­ing through urban nature-based solu­tions, presenter Riikka Pa­loniemi, SYKE

Health and well-being benefits of nature are achieved by spending time frequently in green areas. Recently such an active use of nature has been increasingly seen as health promotion complementing other approaches to health care. New concepts, such as nature-based solutions, may help in acknowledging multiple benefits of nature, including their health benefits. In the presentation, I will discuss health benefits of urban nature by presenting experiences from the Nature step project, in which new practices to encourage more active use of urban nature were co-created with kindergartens. In addition, I will discuss how to improve the accessibility of forests through planning and finally. 

Bio: Docent Riikka Paloniemi, works as the head of the Behavioral Change unit in SYKE’s environmental policy centre. Our multidisciplinary team aims to create prerequisites for more sustainable behavior, policy and decision making. We are studying the behavior of individuals and groups, and opportunities and challenges towards more sustainable behavior. Our current projects focus among other themes how  nature based solutions could help to solve current major societal challenges.