Environmentally aware citizen makes sustainable decisions
The megatrend cards lead the group to discuss the versatile aspects of arctic bioenergy and megatrends.
Concentration of the population in a small number of areas megatrend inspired the group to contemplate the current situation in Northern rural areas. As the population tends to concentrate in a few large growth centres, other regions will face a decline in population and a growing proportion of senior citizens. How can we keep the younger generation in these regions and maintain the required basic services for both families and ageing population? At the same time, we need take into consideration vitality of regional economics and entrepreneurship. Regional decision makers have challenging times ahead as vital decisions need to be made to support regional and local economy.
Internationalism versus nationalism and excessive consumption and variable availability of resources megatrends lead the group to acknowledge that for example tourism sector in Finland is highly dependent on international tourists and the logistics such as flight connections that enable tourists to travel to distant locations. We depend on international contracts but simultaneously we need to create new business models to support local entrepreneurship and local production. On larger scale circular economy aspects need to be considered when manufacturing goods and services. The product lifecycle and sustainable service design includes all stages of the cycle. When designing products, the recyclability is an essential factor. The losses need to be minimised and utilised.
How to be responsible consumer? or responsible local business? or responsible global business? The group came up with “an environmentally aware citizen” who only consumes something that can be recycled and avoids purchasing unnecessary goods and overconsumption. Environmentally aware citizen behaves responsibly and makes energy saving choices to preserve the environment. When discussing energy production, the group realized that renewable is not always sustainable. Since we are running out of fossil fuels it´s axiomatic to produce energy from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. This is though not necessarily sustainable way of energy production. When considering energy solutions, the question is not solely the origin of energy but also the consumption of energy. This is when the environmentally aware citizen steps into the picture, not to mention regional and local decision makers and businesses. Small problems can be solved locally and simultaneously keeping in mind that overconsumption of any resources is not the sustainable solution.
The changing structures of work megatrend leads us to the environmentally aware citizen again. COVID-19 has forced us to study, work and socialize remotely. This is a new normal that also makes it possible to work from any location which can save energy, fuels and environment to some extent. New technologies become the absolute value as fast connections are needed also in remote regions to make working remotely efficient or possible for that matter. New technologies become vital also in terms of food and energy production. Self-suffiency is prerequisite when fighting global challenges such as pandemics but also when vitality of local economy becomes a priority. Keeping the value in small regions has a pervasive impact on the citizens of all generations on those regions. Flourishing local economy and prosperous businesses enable production of basic services to people of all ages.
Article by Sini Yli-Suvanto on behalf of Group 3 fasilitators:
Amanda Mannervik, STRUKTURUM, Sweden
Satu Ervasti, Natural Resources Institute Finland
Sini Yli-Suvanto, Lapland UAS, Finland