People gathering at the Senate Square before the march. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

For several years now, I have followed the news with both fear and hope. Will we be too late or will we be just in time to stop the consequences of climate change from getting out of hand? What kind of a planet will we be leaving for the future generations? I have felt that as an ordinary citizen, my chances to make a significant impact are somewhat limited. But what I can do, is to demand the decision-makers to act now. In order to put pressure on the politicians, a group of organisations arranged a climate march in Helsinki on Saturday 20th October 2018.

People getting ready before the march. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

Getting ready. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

In the last few years, the world has seen the effects of climate change up, close and personal. Stronger hurricanes and typhoons, wild fires, heat waves, droughts and alarming amounts of algae are here to stay. And these are only some of the effects. Suddenly, the climate change and its impacts are everywhere: in the news, in social media discussions and at home when you sit down to your evening supper. The wake-up call has been sounding for years but now the alarm is getting harder and harder to ignore.

When the Paris Agreement was forged in the 2015 Climate Summit, the United Nations asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to examine what the goal of keeping temperature at 1.5 C would mean. According to the panel’s report, it is still possible to keep the temperature below 1.5 C but it will be challenging. To reach this goal, every single country in the world will have to commit to prompt climate action in order to lessen the impacts of climate change. The panel was very strict about this. Even the rise of a half a degree to 2 C would be a significantly worse scenario for the world. And if we keep going like we are now, the temperature will rise to 3 C which is something the world cannot handle. Therefore, the action against the effects of climate change must be taken now and not tomorrow, next year or in five years time.

The march has started. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

The march has started. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

On Saturday last week, the day of the march was finally here. I and thousands of other people took part in the climate march and demanded climate justice, ecosystem protection, support for the increase of renewable energies and energy conservation, environmental education to all school levels, support for the climate action of the poorest countries, and a just transition.

The weather was crisp and beautiful. The crowd gathered at the Senate Square in front of the Helsinki Cathedral before the march. The sight of all those people attending was almost emotional. I was happy to be there with others who were worried about the state of our climate.

The young Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, 15, who has been in a school strike for climate since August this year, gave a moving speech before the march and urged decision-makers to act before its too late. She pointed out that the climate crisis has already been solved: we have the facts and the solutions. Now we only need to open our eyes and change ourselves.

At the Parliament House. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

At the Parliament House. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

Soon after Greta’s speech, the march proceeded from the Senate Square to the Parliament House. In front of the Parliament House, we heard speeches by Kaisa Kosonen, the Climate Policy Advisor at Greenpeace Nordic, Petra Laiti, the chair of Finnish Sámi Youth Organization Suoma Sámi Nuorat, and the politicians from eight parliamentary parties. Petra Laiti’s speech was very impressive. She reminded us all that as one of indigenous peoples in the Arctic region, the Sámi people are in the frontline of climate change. They have the best knowhow of their land so they should have a place in the decision-making when it comes to making sustainable decisions about the arctic nature. I hope that her speech made as powerful impression on the decision-makers on the scene as it did on me and on many others listening to it.

Before the march ended, I had an inspiring discussion with one other participant about what we ourselves can do for our planet. We agreed that using renewable energy, avoiding food waste, being vegans or vegetarians, and setting an example ourselves are some of the things we can do. On Saturday, there were many of us setting an example. The reports say that approximately 10 000 people participated in the march. It was the biggest climate march that had ever taken place in Finland. The aerial photos I saw online later that day looked amazing. I felt empowered with a renewed sense of hope for the future. I hope that the knowledge that so many people are worried about climate and our future and the future of our children will accelerate the actions we as a nation have to take to do our part in keeping the temperature below 1.5 C.

Written for Global Senses
Text by Tiina Junno

Sources: IPCC, The New Yorker, Greta Thunberg’s speech (in English), Petra Laiti’s speech (in Finnish)



Despite being a vegetarian, I have never been to a food event that concentrates solely on plant-based food. Therefore, it was quite expected that the Finnish vegan fair, Vegemessut, caught my attention. The wonderful range of vegan food exhibitors, animal welfare advocates and organisations, vegan fitness exhibitors, climate info, and clothing lines and shops housed the industrial-feeling cultural centre Kaapelitehdas on 24-25 February 2018 and attracted over 8000 people. I went there to explore new vegan foods, environmental sustainability, and atmosphere. And see what the first-ever VegAwards was about.


The weather was chilly and temperatures were low on Sunday 25th as I made my way towards Kaapelitehdas which is a home for dance theatres, galleries, art schools, museums, companies and bands in the Ruoholahti district in Helsinki. As I got closer, I bumped into a friend and talked with her for a few minutes in the cold winter air. She was already leaving the fair and said that a lot of fun things were waiting for me inside. I hadn’t been exactly sure what to expect so my interest was piqued.

As I entered the Merikaapelihalli area where the fair was held, I was met with smiles and happy-looking people. The atmosphere felt warm and excited. This was my first food fair where the food was my kind of food. Still, I was stunned (in a good way!) by the smiles I saw and the relaxed atmosphere that just floated towards me. So I picked up a broschure, stepped inside the hall, and went to explore the origin of all those smiles.


I like to make sustainable choices when I eat. I often try new things but I haven’t tasted every plant-based product on the market so I found the food exhibitors very exciting. The downstairs space of the venue was full of vegan food producers, sellers and importers who offered samples of their products. I really wasn’t expecting all of that vegan food galore. No wonder everyone was smiling. I also got to talk about sustainability a bit when I was tasting foods but the crowd was so dense and the exhibitors so busy that I didn’t have a chance to be as thorough as I would have wanted to be.

The wellbeing of animals is connected to veganism so there were several animal rights advocates at the fair. The tables of Animalia, Oikeutta eläimille and Eläinsuojelukeskus Tuulispää shared information and sold support products. Tuulispää also had vegan cupcakes to sell. They looked delicious and seemed to be popular among the fair-goers. Now I also know where some of the smiles originated from.

At lunch time, I met a friend and explored the upstairs restaurant world that housed a Planti café and food vendors such as Bali Brunch Helsinki, Rulla and Hey Poke as well as the ice cream roll maker Spiro. As expected, everything was vegan. Choosing what to eat was difficult since all the plates on peoples’ hands looked wonderful. We ended up with a vegan plate ”Gado Gado” from Indonesian street food restaurant Bali Brunch Helsinki. Such a delicious treat!


Vegemessut had an interesting stage programme that ranged from topics such as the future of food and climate change to food innovations, sports, nutrition and ethics of food. As our interest in Global Senses lies on environmental sustainability, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t make it on Saturday when Ville Lähde, a researcher from BIOS research unit, talked about hunger and climate change. Luckily, his talk was available online.

Lähde talked about the future of food, climate change and the changes we should make in food production in order to fight and to adapt to climate change as well as to keep hunger at bay. He pointed out how people often say that if we all went vegetarian or vegan, it would solve climate change or world food problem. Reducing meat production is essential in fighting climate change and adapting to it but it is not all. Lähde suggested that we should think about what kind of world we live in and begin to see how we can change things from where we are now.

Reducing poverty and inequality, trading fairly, practising fair politics, and making changes in the food production all play their part in staving off hunger in the future. What was new to me was the idea of diversifying food production, i.e growing 10 or 20 plant species in the future farms instead of the 3-4 species that are produced at one farm at the moment. Even if some crops do not thrive, the others do.

Lähde also mentioned that agroecology is exploring how to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, fight erosion, and improve the land’s water-holding capacity simultaneously. Water-holding capacity and fighting erosion are important to food production. Increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil in turn means that fields would become carbon sinks that absorb more carbon than they release as CO2. This way food production could start reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and cause negative emissions. If all the three above-mentioned things worked, they could help both in the fight against climate change and in staving off hunger.


On Sunday afternoon, I placed myself near the stage to watch the first-ever VegAwards in Finland. The idea was to celebrate the change in food culture by awarding the pioneers on this front. The best vegan brands, companies, products, and movers and shakers were voted by us, the public.

The winners were Kolmen Kaverin Jäätelö (The Best Brand & The Best Ice Cream), Oatly‘s iKaffe (The Best Milk), Härkis, a Finnish invention made of Finnish fava beans (The Best Plant-Based Protein), Vihis by HoviRuoka, a vegan pie (The Best Prepared Food), Vöner, a vegan version of kebab meat (The Best Newcomer), Vegaanituotteet.net, a site that keeps track of vegan products in Finland and shares information (The Best Social Media), and Piia Anttonen & Eläinsuojelukeskus Tuulispää (The Special Category Award) for the relentless work done for the wellbeing of animals.

I think some of the winners were quite obvious since their products are very much loved. The audience seemed to agree judging by the cheering and happy smiles. It was great to see plant-based products awarded and to know that their success is not showing signs of slowing down.


All in all, Vegemessut was a really nice event. As a first-timer, I found the atmosphere great, and people, both the audience and the exhibitors, very forthcoming and enthusiastic. If I could make one wish, it would be to have an even larger slot in the programme for environmental sustainability of food production and everything that goes with it. Next year, perhaps?

The organisers of Vegemessut are promising something interesting happening in August too. The keywords are ”good food” and ”summer Helsinki”. I’ll be waiting.

Written for Global Senses
Text by Tiina Junno


World Village Festival. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

When you go to a festival, how large is the carbon footprint of the event? I visit World Village Festival in Helsinki every year and sometimes even in the form of an exhibitor. This year I explored the festival as a case study of a green event from the point of view of an ordinary festival-goer. I talked with my contacts and friends, and thought about what kind of discoveries on green experiences and actions towards sustainability I wanted to discuss in the following article.

World Village Festival (Maailma kylässä in Finnish) is a multicultural festival that celebrates the world and shines light on current global issues such as development co-operation, tolerant multiculturalism and sustainability. The festival on 28-29 May 2017 was full of music, talks, sun, food, art, dance, world views, perspectives, discussions about global issues, and smiling festival-goers. The festival has a different theme and regional focus every year. This year’s theme was civil society while the regional focus was on Latin America.


What has the biggest impact on the carbon footprint of a festival? If you think about festivals in general, the most obvious answer for many would probably be transportation. Festivals bring international artists and their gear from abroad by planes, festival organisation transports construction materials, exhibitors bring their goods by car and audience might travel from far away. The next thing that comes to mind is electricity used at the festival by exhibitors, stages, lighting and overall infrastructure. And thirdly, there is food. The whole food production chain from growing all the way to transporting, cooking and possible food waste creates a sizeable carbon footprint. Later in the text, I will take a look at how World Village Festival has approached environmental matters.

But first some background information. World Village Festival is a green festival. It aims to minimise its carbon footprint in both producing and planning the festival. As I was wondering what kind of measures the festival has taken to ensure environmental sustainability, I found out that they have joined EcoCompass, a Finnish environmental management system, to realise their goals. The festival has been granted the EcoCompass certificate for the first time in 2014.

I learned that EcoCompass has been developed to support small and medium-sized businesses, public events and city administration offices in environmental management. It provides its clients with a ready-made model, tools and a personal adviser to help in setting up an environmental management system of their own.

I have previously been in contact with Julie’s Bicycle, a London-based charity that supports the creative community in environmental efforts. They have a fairly similar kind of system that provides tools, support and advice for festivals, museums and organisations among others which is one of the reasons why I was drawn to learn more about EcoCompass.

The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Okko Meinilä

The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Okko Meinilä

When I started to explore what EcoCompass was all about I assumed that you needed to be already ‘green’ to be eligible for the system but discussing it with Sari Kemppainen from EcoCompass proved me otherwise. You don’t need to be ‘green’ from the beginning. The idea of the system is continuous improvement on environmental matters. You can develop your environmental work towards sustainability or make it even more sustainable if you are already ‘green’. The EcoCompass certificate, which you will receive after creating your environmental management system, will tell your clients, partners and customers that your business or event is committed to protecting the environment.

When you start creating your own EcoCompass system, you will have to do an initial survey on your environmental work and the major environmental impacts of your activities. The EcoCompass adviser will support you on this. Next you will have to identify the legal requirements, i.e. follow the environmental laws. An environmental policy that is the basis of your goals and measures is also needed.

With the adviser’s support, you will make sure that you fulfill the criteria that EcoCompass has set for events. Some of the points in the criteria are, e.g. training in environmental matters, a waste management plan, and preparing a yearly environmental programme which includes several sub-sectors that I want to explore in connection to World Village Festival. Some of these sub-sectors are waste reduction, saving energy and changing to green electricity, optimising logistics, and environmental subcontracting.

When your environmental system is ready, the EcoCompass adviser will give their approval of the finished product. It will be audited by an objective outside auditor. If your event has fulfilled the criteria, you will receive the EcoCompass certificate. Afterwards, the system will be monitored annually and you are also required to report every year. The events that are organised for several consecutive years will be audited every third year. This is also the case with World Village Festival whose certificate has been renewed and audited in 2016.

I wanted to find out how environmental matters stated in the EcoCompass criteria were realised at an event, so I contacted the World Village Festival Team and explored the festival myself.

Next I will examine how the enviromental actions are visible to the festival-goer.


I arrived by foot and the first thing I noticed were the amount of bikes stationed on the outskirts of the festival area. This isn’t a surprise: Helsinki likes to bike. The promiximity to railway station is also a plus since you can arrive right beside the festival area by commuter trains or long-distance trains. Many buses and trams also have their stops on the railway station area so you can easily join in going green with the festival, no matter the public transport of your choice.

One of the sub-sectors of the environmental programme stated in the EcoCompass criteria is the intensification of logistics and commuting. This means that logistics and moving to and from the area will be made more efficient and less straining to the environment.

When I asked about the logistics from Niila Leppänen, the production manager of the festival, he told me that the festival favours local subcontractors and when possible, centralises transportation to one operator which reduces the usage of only partially full cars.

World Village festival also encourages visitors to arrive by public transport, foot or bike to help minimise the impact of CO2 emissions. The festival is held at Kaisaniemi Park and Railway Square in downtown Helsinki, both of which are easily accessed by public transport anywhere from Helsinki and surrounding regions.


As I approached the festival area from Railway Square, I took notice of an array of blue solar panels outside the back of a large tent. I watched many passersby stop to check out the panels. I was one of them. This was one of the ways the festival has approached energy efficiency. The solar panels powered the World Books Tent and a solar energy expert, Janne Käpylehto from Solarvoima, talked about renewable energies in the Amazon Stage on World Books Tent on Sunday.

While the solar panels obviously did not power the whole festival, I was glad to see that solar power had been taken into consideration. World Village Festival has stated that it is committed to enhancing energy efficiency and green electricity production (World Village Festival, Environment and responsibility). So if not solar power, what kind of electricity does the festival use?

“The electricity for the festival is renewably produced wind power from Helen Ltd,” says Niila Leppänen. During the night the festival switches into so-called night electricity. This means that when electricity consumption is low during the nighttime, smaller generators will be in use and some of them will be shut down completely for the night. Saving energy by consuming it less when it is not needed goes along the lines of the environmental programme requirements of the EcoCompass criteria.


When you are with more than 70 000 people on a limited area during a weekend, there is bound to be waste. The ways recycling is organised and an event’s commitment to waste management is something I always pay attention to. The EcoCompass criteria includes a waste management plan, and reducing waste is also one of the environmental programme sub-sectors in the criteria.

The festival’s environmental programme includes developing waste management and recycling practices as one of its goals. There were seven recycling points around the festival area and recycling assistants helped the festival-goers in putting the waste in the right bins. Since the festival offers a large selection of food vendors, I was glad to find out that also the disposable tableware was biodegradable.

If someone wonders where all that waste will go, the festival gives you the answer. Energy waste produces recycled fuel to replace fossil fuels. Recycled metal can be used for making new metal products. Glass produces glass wool and glass packages. Biodegradable waste turns into compost soil. Recycled paper turns into newsprint paper and recycled cardboard is used in making carton. And on top of it, by recycling paper, carton and cardboard, you can save trees. (World Village Festival, Environment and responsibility)


The international kitchens offer something for everyone. According to some food vendors I talked to, festival-goers were eager to try new tastes. One of the new experiences for me was Finnish fresh vegetable chips in the form of spirals made of potatoes, beetroots and sweet potatoes. These chips with an artesan feel were produced by Spiraaliperuna. Very tasty with little salt on top. And very messy by the looks of all of us trying to balance a large paper cone of vegetable spirals on our hands. But the taste was delicious so a little mess didn’t matter. And it didn’t hurt that the recycling bins were close by too.

World Village Festival. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

World Village Festival. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

World Village Festival is a great place to explore foods you’ve never tasted before. Since food production in all its stages from growing to transport to preparing it causes strain to the environment, the festival has committed to taking environmental issues into account also in products and services acquired through subcontracting as stated in the EcoCompass environmental programme requirements. This means that the food vendors at the festival are committed to offer at least one vegetarian option in their menu and that they are encouraged to use local and organic products as well as fair trade.

I think vegetarian options should be self-evident. After all, vegetarian food puts considerably less strain on the environment than meat. I am glad that using organic and local ingredients is encouraged. Organic is healthier for us humans and for the environment where the food is grown. Also, transportation from local producers causes less emissions. For the goods you cannot grow in Finland, the favourable alternative is, of course, fair trade.

Festival-goers were also encouraged to bring their own water bottles which is what I had with me too. Especially Sunday’s sunny weather demanded that everyone took action in hydrating themselves. You could refill your bottle at one of the three water points at the festival.


I used to work in fair trade, and since this was a festival for the whole world, fair trade was well represented. Talking with my former colleagues and friends at fair trade stands assured me that fair trade continues to draw people in. From past experiences I know that environment and sustainability are important to consumers of fair trade.

One of the 10 fair trade principles is respect for the environment which goes well with the idea of a green festival. This means that in fair trade you are committed to use materials from sustainably managed sources, to reduce energy consumption, to use renewable energy if possible, to minimise the impact of waste and to use organic or low pesticide production methods. (World Fair Trade Organization)

Nowadays fair trade is accessible through supermarkets, online stores and many big sellers which means that all the more people are able to support fair trade producers and also environmentally friendly production methods. To me that feels like a win-win situation.


I had a really good time exploring the festival this year. Festival Saturday was a bit chilly but Sunday welcomed festival-goers with a sunny forecast. The surrounding park lawns were filled with people having picnics, relaxing and watching the comings and goings of the festival area. Talking with friends and people I used to work with in previous festival years revealed that people were a little disappointed that there had been some cancellations in the music programme but other than that, everyone seemed to be happy to be taking part in the festival.

These days audiences at festivals are increasingly aware of environmental issues and sustainability. When their favourite festival can show that it has been verified a green festival by an external reviewer, it can raise the festival’s ranking in their eyes. Many aspects of a festival are relatively easy to develop towards a sustainable direction when you have the right tools and support such as EcoCompass.

The one thing that is generally difficult to carry out environmentally friendly, is the transportation across borders. Distances can be huge and in many cases flying is the only reasonable transportation mode. In the long term, sustainable transportation needs to be accelerated worldwide. I have high hopes that the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement will push this matter forwards in the future.

From Global Senses’ point of view, the festival’s mission to increase environmental awareness and challenge festival-goers and exhibitioners to go green with them seems effective. Along with doing your share on keeping the area clean, recycling and making your own carbon footprints smaller, you could get to know environmental organisations, get involved in their activities and look for new ideas on how to be (even more) environmentally sustainable in the festival and in your own life. It certainly worked for me so maybe it worked for my fellow festival-goers as well.

World Village Festival will be held again on May 2018 with a focus on the sustainable development goals of 2030 Agenda.

Written for Global Senses
Text by Tiina Junno

The festival is organised by Kepa, an umbrella organisation for development co-operation with main partners the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, Ben & Jerry’s and Maailman Kuvalehti – a magazine with stories from around the world.

EcoCompass was created by the municipalities of Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen, Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) and Helen Ltd. The system is based on Nordic environmental management systems and on international standards on environmental management. EcoCompass has approximately 100 clients among events, businesses and city offices. At the moment, it offers services in a few areas in Finland.

Sources: World Village Festival, EcoCompass, World Fair Trade Organization, The United Nations