The Institute

Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science was officially established in January 2018.

The establishment of Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science is a response to a call for the universities and research institutions to take a more significant responsibility in finding new pathways towards sustainability transformations. The Institute gathers together the core expertise from the University of Helsinki in collaboration with other universities and research institutes in the Helsinki area. It also includes non-academic stakeholders in order to contribute to sustainability transformations in society.

The complexity of and urgency to solve the global grand challenges, climate change, loss of biodiversity, poverty, and urbanization are broadly recognized. Consequently, there is a call for a transition or rather, a transformation in all spheres of life requiring changes in technologies, values, behavior and governance. There is a call for universities and research institutions to take action to manage these complex problems not only by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but also by the European Council as well as many European and global research programmes such as the Global Sustainable Development Report 2015.

HELSUS strategy


HELSUS is an interdisciplinary sustainability science community. As an internationally recognized centre it enables and empowers societies to transform towards sustainability.


to contribute to sustainability transformations of the societies by means of inter- and transdisciplinary research and education. This will be carried out by increasing understanding of conditions, limits and processes of sustainability transformations and by producing transformative knowledge for national and international policy decision-making, private sector and civil society.


  1. CONDUCT HIGH QUALITY scientific research in the field of sustainability science via new tenure tracks and inter- and transdisciplinary research programs
  2. DEVELOP METHODOLOGICAL AND THEORETICAL EXCELLENCE in Sustainability Science in collaboration with the experts at the University of Helsinki and national and international partners
  3. CO-PRODUCE SOLUTIONS and PATHWAYS TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY together with non-academic partners, policy makers and businesses – emergence of novel entrepreneurships
  4. EDUCATE A NEW GENERATION OF RESEARCHERS AND EXPERTS in Sustainability Science both in master’s and doctorate levels.
  5. PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS at the campus of University of Helsinki and in Helsinki district

HELSUS Annual Report 2020


HELSUS Action Plan


HELSUS Annual Report 2019


HELSUS Action Plan 2020


HELSUS Director is a professor from the University of Helsinki and appointed by the rector. On 1 Sep, 2018, Prof. Anne Toppinen has started as HELSUS Director. The director is responsible for the development of the institute and enhancing the research and education in sustainability science in collaboration with stakeholders.

Anne Toppinen

HELSUS Steering group will enhance the research, education and social interaction in the field of sustainability science in the University of Helsinki but also nationally and internationally. Steering group supports the director in leading the institute.  Steering group plans and decides about the plans on HELSUS activities and use of funds.

Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry

  • Member: Professor Juha Helenius
  • Deputy Member: Head of Ruralia Institute Sami Kurki

Faculty of Arts

  • Member: Associate Professor Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen
  • Deputy Member: Professor Matti Miestamo

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Science

  • Member: Professor Atte Korhola
  • Deputy Member: Professor Sirkku Juhola

Faculty of Educational Sciences

  • Member: Professor Sirpa Tani
  • Deputy Member: Professor Anna Uitto

Faculty of Law

  • Member: Professor Kai Kokko
  • Deputy Member: Jukka Mähönen

Faculty of Science

  • Member: Professor Tuuli Toivonen
  • Deputy Member: Academy Professor Timo Vesala

Faculty of Social Sciences

  • Member: Professor Anja Nygren
  • Deputy Member: Professor Janne Hukkinen

HELSUS advisory board has both international scientific members and national members outside of academia. The advisory board streamlines and plans the activities of HELSUS together with the steering group.

HELSUS Advisory Board - Finnish Division

  • Sini Sallinen, Kuntaliitto
  • Raisa Mäkipää, Luonnonvarakeskus
  • Minna Halme, Aalto-yliopisto
  • Eeva Hellström, Sitra
  • Tanja Suni, Ympäristöministeriö
  • Jarkko Levänen, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology
  • Helena Laukko, UNA Finland
  • Sami Pirkkala, VNK
  • Eeva Primmer, Suomen Ympäristökeskus
  • Leena Pentikäinen, TEM
  • Liisa Saarenmaa, MMM
  • Mikael Långström, UM
  • Liisa Rohweder, WWF
  • Anni Sinnemäki, Helsingin kaupunki

Scientific Advisory Board - International Division

  • Prof. Emily Boyd, Lund University
  • Prof. Daniel Lang, University of Luneburg
  • Prof. Carl Folke, Stockholm Resilience Centre  
  • Prof. Louise Fortmann, Berkeley
  • Assoc. Prof. Paula Puskarova, University of Economics Bratislava
  • Assoc. Prof. David Mungai, University of Nairobi

HELSUS Research coordinators are responsible for overall coordination of the research within HELSUS, developing new initiatives and launching new research projects. Educational coordinator is responsible of promoting, coordinating and conducting sustainability and environmental teaching both for degree students and for academic staff and self-motivated learners. They also contribute to the sustainability research within HELSUS, and the sustainability work done within the University. The coordinators work closely together with the HELSUS Director and are supported by a trainee.


HELSUS E-L Apajalahti

Dr. Eeva-Lotta Apajalahti 
Research coordinator
Tel: +358 294 157 906








Helsus Janna Pietikäinen

Dr. Janna Pietikäinen
Education coordinator
Tel: +358 294 158 125

HELSUS MEMBERS are researchers in the University of Helsinki whose research profile fits into HELSUS research aims. Click the link below to read more about HELSUS Members.

Read moreHELSUS Members