Inspiring ideas for climate efforts from young people in the Mikkeli region!

If products derived from animals put more of a strain on the climate than do plant-based alternatives, shouldn’t the price of vegan and ecological products be reduced? That would prompt people to buy and use more products friendly to the climate and the environment. These were the winning thoughts of Valma from the Otava district of the City of Mikkeli in Eastern Finland, which she presented in the ‘Small-scale climate action’ competition held for young people in the Mikkeli region.

A total of 21 ideas or initiatives were collected in the recently concluded idea competition organised by the Ruralia Institute. In the top three was also a proposal for an outdoor climate-related event by Piitu from Mikkeli. The idea is to share information on the climate, market ecological products and promote recycling and sustainable development in a range of ways. The third most popular proposal was made by Maija, a seventh-grader from the Rantakylä comprehensive school, on whether a deposit scheme could be established for plastic waste.

I got interested in the competition because climate issues are important and I wanted to make a difference, says one of the winning trio.

The young people who participated in the competition are united by their willingness to influence things and their belief in such action. Young people are aware of the necessity of global change, but they also support the notion that small everyday acts can contribute to making positive things happen. For example, among the most effortless ways of making a difference is sharing information on social media, as well as decisions jointly made by families on travelling to school and work by bicycle.

Ulla Pötsönen, a community educator who heads the Nuorisotyö ilmastotoivon rakentajana (‘Youth work for climate hope’) project at Mikkeli’s youth services, is excited by the proposals made by the young people. All of them include material that can be worked on together with them. Their ideas open up opportunities to trial various ways of influencing the environment and society.

We can, for instance, familiarise ourselves with petitions made on the and online platforms. At the moment, supporters are sought for a popular initiative which demands a reduction in value-added tax for healthy products. And we can also learn about civic influencing, for example, through regional political decision-makers or social media, Pötsönen says.

As for the outdoor climate event, it can be implemented as a public event that engages all ages. Pötsönen says that such an event could be organised through broad-based cooperation under the overarching theme of environmentally responsible habitation, for example, in conjunction with the Kierrätystori recycling event.

There are a number of suitable locations for youth action and ideas. I just hope that the coronavirus situation will enable their realisation in the summer, says Pötsönen, sighing.

The climate ideas of young people in the Mikkeli region can be browsed on the website. Anyone was able to use the platform to vote for the idea they considered the best. The three ideas with the most votes earned their originators a €25 gift card each.

The development of the participation platform and trialling it in the climate campaign for young people is part of the Emerging Technologies for Greener Communities (EMERGREEN) project, which investigates sustainable development supported by digital means in northern regions and peripheries. The project, which is being carried out in five countries, is funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme of the EU. In Finland, the University of Helsinki’s Ruralia Institute is serving as project partner, and the project activities are focused in the South Savo region, particularly around Mikkeli.

Further information

Päivi Pylkkänen, project manager

University of Helsinki

Ruralia Institute

p. 044 3366 919

Karoliina Kuusela, Research assistant

University of Helsinki

Ruralia Institute

p. 050 3491 721