Environmental awareness and responsibility

In June, the City’s subsidiary company Helsinki Marketing Oy launched the Think Sustainably service on the MyHelsinki website. The service helps residents and tourists choose more sustainable ways to live in and enjoy Helsinki. The Think Sustainably service was Helsinki Marketing Oy’s most extensive marketing communication campaign in 2019, as well as a central content marketing theme throughout the entire year. The company actively engages local service providers in responsibility work through the Think Sustainably service.

At the Climate School event held at the City Hall in September 2019, each lesson built understanding of how climate change can be affected. Over the course of a week, the Climate School aimed at residents and businesses examined transport, housing, food and construction, as well as various challenges, societal phenomena and contexts that affect what kind of solutions we can use to build the future. With design, the different pieces eventually formed a unified whole: a Climate Change Map. The Climate School was organised by the City of Helsinki and Helsinki Design Week in co-operation with Aalto University and the University of Helsinki.

More than a dozen households in Helsinki took part in a trial organised by the City of Helsinki and D-mat Oy, the goal of which was to support households in reducing their own carbon footprint. The actions carried out over the month-long trial period reduce the participants’ carbon footprint by an average of 15% when these actions become a habit. In the initial situation, the average carbon footprint of households was 6.9 t CO2e annually, with a material footprint of 25.1 tonnes.

In early 2019, the Max 22 campaign by Ilmastoinfo asked the question: “How warm is it in your home?” The campaign generated plenty of discussion and media visibility through factors such as celebrities involved in the campaign. 75 housing company energy experts graduated from energy expert courses held in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Resident evenings were held with themes such as the following:

  • solar power for homes
  • from oil to renewable fuels (detached house residents)
  • energy-effective housing company maintenance
  • methodical building management by housing companies
  • taking energy efficiency into account in renovations.

The percentage of residents with a foreign background is rapidly increasing in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Different operators have identified the need to develop environmental communications aimed at those with a foreign background. In 2019, Heka and HSY collaborated with residents with an immigrant background to produce sorting videos in Finnish, Arabic, English, Somali and Russian. Additionally, a ‘Housing and Environment’ section was created for the Immigrants Helsinki website. 

Lammassaari island
Lammassaari island

project launched by the Youth Services as an organisational collaboration. The goal was to get the residents of Helsinki moving while cleaning the entire 130-km shoreline of litter. Over the course of the year, a 67-km portion of the shoreline was cleaned, resulting in a total of almost two million steps taken. Thousands of Helsinki residents were involved, including school classes, work communities, resident associations and youth groups. 

Young people’s opportunities to influence Youth Services’ environmental activities were further reinforced as the building of the EcoCompass environmental management system began at the level of Youth Services in their entirety, and young people took part in selecting the themes of the environmental programme. Young people wanted more attention to be paid to the ethicality and environmental friendliness of procurements. Young people want to be involved more extensively in influencing the consideration of environmental matters in society and the world.

The Environmental Youth Work Unit strengthened thousands of young people’s relationship with nature in many ways. The Unit provided access to campgrounds and islands it maintains for organising young people’s camps, produced nature school and adventure activities and provided young people with environmental activities with animals, eco-cooking and trips as per their wishes. One of the summer’s top events was the Ecotrip bicycle trek in the Turku Archipelago, the idea for which came from young people themselves. Young people wanted to highlight ecological travel that is simultaneously fun, experiential and communal.

In 2019, the City of Helsinki Environmental Services implemented the Kulkuri project, an environmental education project focusing on sustainable transport. The goal of the project was to increase awareness among children, young people and their families regarding sustainable transport and the environmental impacts of their own transport choices. The environmental education aspect was carried out primarily as school visits, which reached more than 1,900 pupils from 31 different schools in 2019. Visits were also made to two upper secondary schools and various events. The project involved communication as an influencer community, among other things, and produced various materials that schools and other parties will be able to use in the future as well. The project received government subsidies for steering mobility.

Harakka Nature Centre celebrated its 30th anniversary by joining forces with Harakka artists to design an exhibition named Näkyvä ja näkymätön meri (‘The Visible and Invisible Sea’) and organise a two-day Baltic Sea NOW seminar. In the Nature Centre, 78 nature school days were organised for Helsinki schools, 38 of which were nature study days for lower stages, while 40 were environment study days for upper stages and upper secondary schools. For children in day care, 61 island adventure days were organised, and island adventure trips for families with children were held on seven summer Sundays. 

During the summer season, Harakka held guided island tours every Sunday, and 35 on-demand tours were also organised. A sea-themed event with free transport to the island was held on Helsinki Day. Three camps were organised: an archipelago camp for children and two international Gulf of Finland camps for teachers and young people. For educators, four environmental education courses were held. Of these courses, the Helsinki’s Wonderful Nature as a Learning Environment course had more applicants than the course had room for.

In 2019, 32 nature trips were organised, with more than 1,280 residents participating. The most popular nature trips were those centred around the Maunula hazel grove and new life in a storm damage area, the reed warblers and other night-time singers of Viikki, and summer night scents and singers in Uutela.

Helsinki Zoo provides an excellent setting for school and early childhood education groups all year round. Helsinki Zoo was visited by more than 23,800 school children and more than 11,200 pre-school children, Nature School Arkki held 44 nature school days, and in March, a three-day conference for school children was held for the 13th time, followed by four environment and animal-themed summer camps for children in June.

In 2019, as facilitated by HSY, day care centres and pre-school groups held 1,930 environmental education moments for children aged 5–6 and 1,050 environmental education lessons for educational institutions.