HELSUS Science-Policy Forum

HELSUS Science Policy Forum


Welcome to the first HELSUS Science-Policy Forum on

Nature-Based Solutions sup­port­ing cli­mate and biod­iversity tar­gets!

HELSUS Science-Policy Forum is a discussion platform that foster the interaction with researchers and policy-makers on topical sustainability discussions, research themes and on-going policy planning processes. The Forum calls together different Ministries, Cities, Universities and Research Institutes in Finland to discuss further on science-policy research collaboration.

#HELSUSSciencePolicyForum @HELSINKISUS @helsinkiuni

Welcome to the HELSUS Science-Policy Forum!

Nature-based solutions supporting climate and biodiversity targets

HELSUS Science-Policy Forum with Ministry of Environment

#HELSUSSciencePolicyForum @yministerio @HELSINKISUS @helsinkiuni

Time: January 20 from 13:00 to 16:15
Place: Streaming from Think Corner and group discussion on Zoom (registered members will be invited personally). 

Watch the recording of HELSUS Science-Policy Forum here.

The first Science-Policy Forum is arranged on 20th of January in collaboration with Ministry of Environment. The forum focus on cross-sectoral collaboration on nature-based solutions (NBS) for climate neutrality and biodiversity. The Forum calls together researchers and policy-makers from different sectors.

Nature-based solutions for climate neutrality and biodiversity is topical for both researchers and policy-makers. NBS are multi-beneficial, which means that they enhance health, well-being, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change. For example, the EU Biodiversity Strategy (2020-30) recommends that nature-based solutions, which are supported by or inspired by nature, “should be systematically integrated into urban planning, including in public spaces, infrastructure, and the design of buildings and their surroundings”. Furthermore, nature-based systems perspective is strongly visible in the ongoing policy development for example in Green Recovery plans. Therefore NBSs are widely relevant for the environment, climate, land use, energy, finance, transportation and health sectors. In addition to cross-sectoral collaboration in policy, we need dialogue between research, policy-making and implementation.

It is expected that in near-future there will be many research and science-policy calls relating to NBS that will be of key interest to researchers not only in ecology and biology, but also health and well-being, water management, finance, urban governance and transitions management. Despite many efforts to further develop NBS research across Finland, there is an absence of opportunities for researchers to network with policy makers across Finland on this important topic. HELSUS Science-Policy Forum address this important gap. 

The aim of the Forum is to increase interaction and dialogue between researchers and policy-makers, to develop ideas on how nature-based solutions (NBSs) could be integrated in different policy development processes, to increase the societal impact of research and to enhance finding potential research collaborators.


    NB! First part of the event does not need registration. 

    13:00-13:15 Welcome words and setting the scene on NBS Science-Policy Research across the EU, Professor Christopher Raymond, University of Helsinki

    13:15-13:35 Best practices of nature-based solutions in policy and planning, Dr. APN (Sander) van der Jagt, Wageningen University & Research

    13:35-13:50 Why do we need cross-sectoral collaboration to integrate nature-based solutions into policy processes in Finland, Professor of Practice Hannele Pokka, University of Helsinki

    13:50-14:05 Where do we stand: Research and policy cooperation in mainstreaming nature-based solutions in Finland, Dr. Riikka Paloniemi, Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE

    14:05-14:20 Concluding remarks: The need for science-policy partnerships and upcoming funding opportunities, Research director Dr. Tanja Suni, Ministry of the Environment 

    14:20-14:30 Break

    Group discussion 

    Registration is needed. Scroll down for detailed information. 

    14:30-14:40 Introduction to the dialogue group work, Research coordinator, Dr. Eeva-Lotta Apajalahti, University of Helsinki, HELSUS

    14:40-16:00 Parallel group discussions

    Group 1: Nature-based solu­tions sup­port­ing well-be­ing & health 

    Group 2: Nature-based solu­tions in land use and trans­port­a­tion to sup­port low-car­bon liv­ing in cities

    Group 3: Im­pact in­vest­ments and mon­et­ary valu­ation of nature-based solu­tions

    Group 4: Eco­sys­tem res­tor­a­tion through nature-based solu­tions

    Group 5: Nature-based solu­tions in wa­ter pro­tec­tion and man­age­ment

    16:00-16:15 Concluding remarks and next steps


    Christopher Raymond a Professor of Sustainability Science (Sustainability Transformations and Ecosystem Services) at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS). Raymond  is jointly based at the Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme in the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and the Department of Economics and Management in the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. Raymond is a Guest Professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Coordinating Lead Author of the IPBES Values Assessment (Chapter 2, Concepts) and leader of the Human-Nature Transformations Research Group.

    Raymond coordinates the ENVISION and VIVA-PLAN projects, and is a sub-project leader on the SMARTer Greener Cities and CO-CARBON projects. ENVISION aims to develop an inclusive approach to conservation involving identifying, assessing and balancing the consequences of diverse stakeholder visions for protected area management in Europe and the United States.  VIVA-PLAN aims to develop a sustainable spatial planning framework for promoting biodiversity conservation, social inclusion and well-being in vulnerable residential housing areas in Sweden and Denmark. SMARTer Greener Cities aims to make smart cities smarter and more liveable through nature-based solutions. The focus is on Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen. CO-CARBON aims to develop a new concept of carbon-smart urban green infrastructure, and through co-creative processes, create science-based solutions to support its implementation across society in Helsinki, Tampere and Hämeenlinna.



    Dr. APN (Sander) van der Jagt is a postdoctoral researcher on the Horizon 2020 research project CONEXUS on assessing and co-creating nature-based solutions (NBS) in Latin American and southern European cities. He has a track record of research on urban governance of nature, forests and green infrastructure, while also bringing expertise in pathways to mainstreaming of nature-based solutions and co-creation processes. He is interested in understanding barriers and opportunities influencing urban nature innovations from a socio-ecological and socio-technical systems perspective. He is driven by an ambition to create more healthy, sustainable and inclusive cities benefiting the well-being of both people and wildlife. He takes great pleasure in working at the science-policy interface, which allows for the co-production of knowledge contributing to addressing current sustainability challenges. He was awarded with the Utrecht University's Pathways to Sustainability Award in 2020 for excellence in transdisciplinary research.

    He previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University (Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development) on the H2020 NATURVATION project, as a social scientist at Forest Research in Edinburgh (UK) on the FP7 GREEN SURGE project and started his career as a research assistant at Alterra (WUR). He holds a PhD in environmental psychology (University of Aberdeen, The James Hutton Institute), an MSc (Distinction) in Social and Organizational Psychology (Leiden University) and a BSc in Psychology (Leiden University).


    Hannele Pokka

    Dr. Hannele Pokka is Professor of Environmental Responsibility at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences starting from September 1 in 2020. Pokka has versatile expertise in high-level societal interaction and influence on Finland's environmental and nature conservation policies, as well as sustainable development. Working as a Professor of Practice she brings her practical knowledge and expertise on science-policy interaction, societal relevance for research and working life relevance for teaching. 
    Hannele Pokka has a long-standing working career in the policy in Finland. Her previous post was a Permanent State Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment where she led Ministry’s operations, strategic planning, implementation processes and the main focus fields of the Ministry including climate policy, environment and nature protection, as well as land use planning, building and living. She has acted as Finland’s Minister of Justice and she was an active member of the Finland’s parliament for two decades. She is also former Governor of Lapland, the post she held for 14 years. She holds a doctoral degree from the Faculty of Law from University of Helsinki and she is Adjunct Professor of Environment Law at the University of Lapland. Furthermore, Pokka is a writer and she has written nine books, both fiction as well as autobiographical work. 



    Dr., adjunct professor Riikka Paloniemi is leading multidisciplinary Behavior Change Unit in the Environmental Policy Centre at Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE). In line with SYKE’s strategy, the group is developing and implementing inter- and transdisciplinary research project targeting just and sustainable transition. The main aim of my work is to understand and create prerequisites for more sustainable behavior of individuals and groups, through renewing practices and policies. My research covers, for example, sustainable agency, environmental justice, healthy lifestyles, policy and decision making, urban and regional planning, knowledge use and renewing science-policy-society interactions.


    Registration for group discussions

    The five themes for dialogue groups described. Registration closes at 9 p.m. on Sunday 17th of January.

    Group 1: Nature-based solu­tions sup­port­ing well-be­ing & health 

    Group 1 invites participants to discuss topical issues on how nature-based solutions contribute to well-being and health. Examples such as adding greeneries in kindergarten yards and exposing children to microbiota show evidence on health benefits. NBS benefits for health spread beyond the city contexts as walking in a forest and other interaction with nature relieve stress and increase well-being. How are the health benefits of NBSs taken into account in different policies?

    Group 2: Nature-based solu­tions in land use and trans­port­a­tion to sup­port low-car­bon liv­ing in cities

    Group 2 discusses how nature-based solutions support low-carbon land use and transportation in cities. How can NBSs effectively be linked to city planning and land use in cities? How can we engage diverse private and public actors in their design, implementation and maintenance over the long term to support low carbon living in ways that are fair and equitable to diverse citizen groups? Recent research shows that using NBSs in cities have several benefits – for example, green spaces and routes contribute to fossil-free commuting such as walking and biking, parks and green spaces are essential parts of well-being in cities; green walls and green roofs are essential for stormwater management and the management of heat island effects.

    Group 3: Im­pact in­vest­ments and mon­et­ary valu­ation of nature-based solu­tions

    Group 3 invites participants to discuss financing, impact investment and monetary valuation of nature-based solutions, including the possibilities for new forms of ecosystem accounting supported by the United Nations. Recent discussions on impact investments and results-based funding direct attention to valuing biodiversity.  The group discusses questions such as how to build financing structures and networks for mainstreaming NBSs, and how to evaluate the financial impacts of NBSs.

    Group 4: Eco­sys­tem res­tor­a­tion through nature-based solu­tions

    In Group 4, the participants discuss ecosystem restoration, the impacts it has on biodiversity protection, climate change adaptation and carbon sinks, as well as tradeoffs between immediate economic benefits of use of natural resources and future ecosystem services. Interest in restoration is high on the policy agenda, for example in connection with the sustainable recovery activities.

    Group 5: Nature-based solu­tions in wa­ter pro­tec­tion and man­age­ment

    Group 5 invites experts to discuss nature-based solutions in protecting water systems and nature-based water management in coastal environments. Nature-based solutions have potential to reduce harmful water loads and nutrient flows, but they also contribute to the mitigation of climate change. There is both policy demand and recent research evidence that highlight the potential of nature-based water management.

    Questions for each group:

    1. What are the major policy challenges linked to each theme?
    2. What knowledge gaps are associated with these policy challenges?
    3. Which cross-sectoral groups should be involved in further discussions about these gaps?

    Format of the group discussions: 

    Short policy and research introductions to group theme followed by group discussion.

    Aim of the group discussion:

    The aim of the group discussion is to increase interaction and dialogue between researchers and policy-makers, to develop ideas on how nature-based solutions (NBSs) could be integrated in different policy development processes, to increase the societal impact of research and to enhance finding potential research collaborators.