Solutions to the climate crisis and biodiversity loss are needed fast. As a consequence of human action, more than two-thirds of all vertebrates in the world have disappeared in a short time. It is becoming increasingly likely that global warming will already exceed the critical increase of 1.5 centigrade in the next few years.
If we carry on with our current way of life, we will further speed up these interlinked crises. Food, water and energy will become increasingly difficult to access, we will be plagued by pandemics, and parts of the Earth will become uninhabitable. We quickly need an in-depth transformation that encompasses all aspects of society. We need science, research and action.
The University of Helsinki is committed to working for a sustainable future.
Education has a key role in the promotion of sustainable development. In the coming years, more experts will be needed for coming up with solutions relevant to the climate crisis, preventing biodiversity loss and promoting the sustainability transformation. We at the University of Helsinki find it important that all of our graduates understand their responsibility in promoting sustainability.
A multidisciplinary course on sustainability is available to all students, and it will also soon be made available to lifelong learners. At the heart of this specific multidisciplinary sustainability science course is the question of how to bring about an in-depth transformation towards sustainability that encompasses different sectors of society and extends to human values and lifestyles.
Relevant to research on a sustainable and viable future for the Earth are questions in which nature meets human activity. Climate change, decreasing biodiversity and the increasing scarcity of natural resources pose challenges that are also related to human activity and health as well as the economy.
The challenges generated by humans are complex, and the solutions needed to tackle them require broad-based multidisciplinary expertise. Indeed, multidisciplinary research is a particular strength of the University of Helsinki.
Examples of our research:
Panels collect research-based knowledge and promote dialogue between science and research, politics, citizens and experts in questions relating to the climate, biodiversity and sustainability.
Members of the Finnish Climate Change Panel representing the University of Helsinki include Markku Ollikainen, professor emeritus and panel chair; Sirkku Juhola, professor of urban environmental policy; Annukka Vainio, associate professor of behavioural change toward sustainability transformations; and Timo Vesala, professor of meteorology.
Members of the Finnish Nature Panel representing the University of Helsinki include Lassi Ahlvik, associate professor of environmental economics; Jaana Bäck, professor of forest–atmosphere interactions; Irina Herzon, university lecturer; Aleksi Lehikoinen, senior curator at the Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus; and Christopher Raymond, professor at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS.
Professor of Geoinformatics Tuuli Toivonen represents the University of Helsinki in the Expert Panel for Sustainable Development.