Urban landscapes for a sustainable future!
For me, cities play a central role in fighting climate change. I am passionate about cities that enable safe and a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way of life to each and every citizen. I am interested in developing cities that preserve existing, as well as restore and create new, large and tiny, green landscapes.
I guess I have always been interested in nature; perhaps unwittingly in sustainability. Since a small child I have enjoyed being outdoors and was taught to pick berries to make use of them during the very, very long Finnish winter. Biology and social studies were among my favourite topics in elementary school. When I learned about recycling organic waste at school, the next day my family started recycling our own waste. I guess I was pretty convincing with my cause.
I grew up in a (for Finish standards) big city in the southern part of the country, in a suburb between two “city centres” with a forest area straddling our back yard. At that time, the forest area behind our house seemed endless but due to the development pressure of last years, our beloved wild backyard, home to variety of species – has been shrinking from every direction – and how? By continuing the business as usual led development that may not value nature enough and gradually eats into our natural environment. This – unfortunately – is not sustainable and I wonder if it is what the majority of citizens want?
Now you probably ask: what is the solution? I think we should let the citizens take part in the creation and management of urban green spaces to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility of their cities. We should develop a true appreciation for the services our urban forests offer; the way they (just to name a few) clean the air, store carbon, protect against storms, provide shade and support our cultural identity; not just in our minds, but in our policies. We should, not only make the streets green, but narrow them down to slow down and reduce the number of cars and let the bicycles conquer the streets. We should foster urban agriculture to produce food nearby and use it as a learning experience – so that we know where our food comes from and how it has been produced. This could be done everywhere – of course by adapting to the local conditions.
Nowadays I work with governance of sustainable cities in Stuttgart, Germany, currently in an EU-project UNaLab that fosters the uptake of nature based solutions (NBS) in cities. I moved to Germany more than three years ago to take an intercultural and interdisciplinary master’s degree in Environmental Governance. This happened after taking the decision to educate myself further in environmental issues and get some work experience abroad. I became hooked on the topic of sustainable urban transformation and here I am, very keen on doing what I do at the moment. An unforgettable experience of my studies was the period of staying in India and writing my master’s thesis about citizens’ mobility preferences – another story I could write a blog post about!
I am already an active user of several social media platforms. I tweet on my fields of interest including the project I am working for, use Facebook, Instagram and Linked in and my network reaches all continents. Therefore, in order to make real use of these platforms for the public good, I would like to learn more about effective means of online communication.
I am eager to learn how to systematically use online media to disseminate research and project results to decision makers and the broader public. I want to become a solid producer of blog texts. I think that acting as a Youth Ambassador for such a big network like Global Landscapes Forum would be an extremely valuable learning experience. I would use the skills gained to communicate on sustainable development and foster the change we need.
Your name, nationality and age: Anna Huttunen, Finnish, 31
Your email address: Huttunen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Country in which you currently live (has to be within the EU): Germany
Which organization you work for, or which university you study at: Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering
Your mother tongue: Finnish
Other languages you are fluent in: English, German, Swedish