The City of Turku hosted the Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, even though circumstances forced the event to go virtual. More than 800 policymakers and political and economic experts attended the Forum in October.
“The event will be organized differently but just as well,” said City of Turku’s Manager of International Affairs Mika Akkanen at the end of June when asked about the arrangements for the EUSBSR Annual Forum. The related steering group led by Akkanen had just decided to organise the event virtually and the air was thick with question marks.
The project manager’s spontaneous but confident response has lived on as a guideline for the virtual implementation, which was considered plan C to start with. The event for some thousand participants had already been postponed from June to October due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The arrangements were well on their way when the coronavirus hit. First, we decided to push back the conference, but in June we concluded that the situation would not have relented by autumn. Still, instead of cancelling the event, we decided to make it fully virtual. Even a hybrid implementation seemed too unsure an option,” Akkanen says.
EUSBSR (The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region) is an agreement between the EU Member States and the Commission on strengthening cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. Turku was adamant not to lose the chance to host the EUSBSR Annual Forum 2020, which it applied for with considerable effort since Denmark waived the opportunity 18 months ago. Last year’s Forum was held in Gdansk, Poland.
As the host of the EUSBSR Annual Forum, Turku had the opportunity to influence the event content and its preparations. Alongside the City of Turku, the main organisers were the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
“As the host city, we can add a local angle to the content and impress upon the decision-makers what issues related to the sea mean here in Turku. All conferences are important platforms for communications, branding and protecting one’s interests. There is always a content-related objective in addition to the goal of gaining income for the travel sector,” Akkanen says.
Read more about the event here.
Read more about Turku as a meeting destination here.
Finland ranks #1 in the Sustainable Expat Living Report
Expats looking for a new sustainable home base should look to the Nordic countries, according to the latest Expat Insider survey from InterNations. Finland, Sweden, Norway fill the top three places in the environment & sustainability ranking, with Denmark placing 6th. The environment & sustainability ranking looked at three measures: quality of environment, policies & people, and products & utilities. Finland, Sweden and Norway all placed in the top five of each subcategory.
In both Finland and Norway, 89% of expats surveyed think that the government supports policies to protect the environment. That compares with a global average of just 55%.
In Finland, 90% were happy with the local waste management and recycling efforts, much higher than the global average of 60%. The country is a global leader in recycling bottles and paper, while a nationwide deposit scheme leads to a return rate for almost 100% for refillable glass bottles.
In addition to taking the overall title, Finland also ranked first in the quality of environment subcategory. Almost all respondents spoke positively of Finland’s water, sanitation and air quality. One South Korean expat living in Finland specifically mentions “nature, clean water, and air” as what she likes most about life in Finland.
The University of Helsinki places in the 50–100 range in nearly all of the most important university rankings. Only a few Nordic universities have reached the top 100. The University of Helsinki is usually among the top four with the Karolinska Institutet, the University of Copenhagen and the Aarhus University.
Times Higher Education’s THE University Impact Rankings is a specialised ranking, which measures how well universities promote sustainable development through their activities and carry out their third mission, societal impact. It is based on the goals of sustainable development defined by the UN in 2016. The ranking was first published in 2019. In 2020, the University of Helsinki was ranked 80th in the world for impact. The University placed best in these ranking indicators: Climate Action (11) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (35).
Helsinki University also ranks in top 50 globally in 6 fields by U.S. News:
26 Endocrinology & Metabolism
33 Arts & Humanities
38 Plant & Animal Science
44 Molecular Biology & Genetics
47 Biotechnology & Applied Microbiology
Photo: Helsinki University Think Corner, Jussi Hellsten/Helsinki Marketing
Sustainable Travel Finland label for Messukeskus Helsinki
Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre is increasingly committed to promoting responsible tourism by joining Visit Finland’s Sustainable Travel Finland program.
“The Sustainable Travel Finland label is a sign of valuable and long-term work for sustainable tourism, and we are proud to receive the recognition. The program brings more tools and a strong partner network to our long-standing responsibility work. It is great to join forces with Visit Finland and other companies in the Sustainable Travel Finland program to tell our international audience about responsible tourism and events,” says Maria Mroue, Marketing and Communications Director at Messukeskus Helsinki.
Visit Finland’s Sustainable Travel Finland program promotes sustainable tourism and communicates Finland as a country of sustainable tourism. The Sustainable Travel Finland label facilitates tourists’ and event planners’ choices when making travel decisions. Responsibility is a megatrend and a decisive selection criterion for an increasing number of purchasing decision-makers. Messukeskus’ goal is to develop its services to become even more responsible and also to encourage its customers to make environmentally friendly choices.
Safety is also part of sustainable travel. During the past year, Messukeskus has done a lot of work to promote Corona safety. Messukeskus was the first fair organizer in Finland to publish comprehensive safety guidelines for event participation.
Read more about Sustainable Travel Finland here.
More about sustainability at congresses in Messukeskus Helsinki here.
Finland Convention Bureau provides complimentary information, consultation and assistance to all congress organizers and meeting planners.
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