The University of Helsinki ecologists educate major business leaders on biodiversity

The aim of the Biodiversity Leadership Course was to inspire business leaders to consider biodiversity and tackle biodiversity loss in their corporate strategies.

In October, the Research Centre for Ecological Change (REC) of the University of Helsinki participated in organising the Biodiversity Leadership Course for 25 Finnish corporate leaders. Among others, CEOs of Metso, Fortum and Ilmarinen participated on the course, which was co-organised by the Puistokatu 4 research space, the Climate Leadership Coalition and the Forum for Environmental Information.

“Our goal was to spread information about biodiversity among corporate leadership and inspire them to take it into account in their corporate strategies. The aim was to help them understand the basics of biodiversity, on the one hand, and, on the other, tell them what the latest research says about biodiversity change and the factors that affect it,” says Anna-Liisa Laine, Professor of Plant Biodiversity at the University of Helsinki.

Laine prepared the course programme together with Tomas Roslin, another top researcher and ecologist at the University of Helsinki. Minister of Climate and the Environment Kai Mykkänen brought the greetings of political decision-makers to the event and the award-winning environmental researcher and ecologist Gretchen Daily from Stanford University lectured over a remote connection.

Research helps tackle biodiversity loss

The course reminded business leaders not only of the threats presented by biodiversity loss, but also that according to a conservative estimate there is growth potential of several trillion dollars in solutions that take biodiversity into account.

Finland has exceptionally extensive research data to support pro-biodiversity activities. For example, the University of Helsinki has compiled long time series related to nature, the analysis of which has provided understanding of the pace of biodiversity change and its drivers. Based on this knowledge, we can plan measures to tackle biodiversity loss.

Laine hopes that the course increased the awareness of the participants of the long-term effects of biodiversity loss. On the other hand, she also pointed out during the course that we already possess sufficient research data to tackle biodiversity loss and that tackling it is not as difficult as is often thought.

“It was great to get feedback that the knowledge gained at the course is helping business leaders to review their strategies from a new perspective.”