University establishes Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science to help solve global sustainability issues

Climate change, poverty and the loss of biodiversity are the most acute sustainability issues in our time, and we need systematic, multidisciplinary research to solve them. The Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) takes on this challenge by hiring 10 new professors and connecting nearly 200 researchers from six different faculties.

Sustainability is a new field of science for the University of Helsinki. It seeks to solve global sustainability issues, such as the complex problems surrounding climate change, poverty or the loss of biodiversity. The approach is multidisciplinary and solution-oriented. HELSUS will involve a broad range of experts from the University, governmental research institutes and private companies. Jari Niemelä, director of HELSUS, emphasises that this new approach is necessary.

“The global challenges of our society are increasingly complicated. We need closer and deeper cooperation between different fields in order to solve them.”

The research of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science focuses primarily on the study of cities, the global south and Arctic areas, systems of sustainable consumption and production as well as the theory and methods of sustainability science.

Ten new professors

The University of Helsinki wants to be known as an active agent in solving sustainability issues.  In the University’s strategy for 2017–2020, sustainable development has accordingly been selected as one of the main global challenges which the University intends to address. Ten new professorships are being established in conjunction with the new Institute, in different fields of sustainability science – for example, the study of sustainable food and urban systems.

In addition to this, the exceptionally multidisciplinary research of HELSUS connects approximately 50 existing professors and nearly 150 other researchers from the six faculties of the University of Helsinki as well as from its partner institutions in different sectors of society.

The newly appointed chair of the Board of the University of Helsinki, President Tarja Halonen, is delighted by the multidisciplinary approach of the new Institute, and emphasises the significance of sustainability research in political decision-making. 

“Climate change is a good example of how decision-making should be based on research results, not personal opinions of the truth.” 

Sustainability science seeks change

The goal of contemporary sustainability science is not just to further sustainable development, but to also effect systemic change in the different sectors and operations of society.

HELSUS seeks to facilitate this sustainable shift through high-standard research and teaching as well as by increasing interaction between different societal institutions. 

Further information:

•    Professor Jari Niemelä, Director of HELSUS,

•    Kaisa Kurki-Korhonen, Research Coordinator at HELSUS,, tel. 0400 624 289