We awarded 2.7 million euros for research that benefits the environment

The 2018 grants have now been awarded. In the 2018 general call for grant applications, we asked for solution proposals to global phenomena challenging the environment and humanity. We received 359 applications in total. We awarded a total of 2 648 471 euros in funding for 48 projects.

View all the funded projects here.

The majority of the projects funded were new doctoral thesis or postdoc projects. We awarded funding for the entire duration of the projects and for up to four years at a time for doctoral thesis projects. We believe the funding challenges of young researchers who have just finished their theses are a bottleneck for their research careers, which is why we emphasised recently graduated doctors in our call for applications. In addition to research, we also fund the communication and implementation of researched environmental information in society.

The common denominator of the funded projects is how the researchers managed to describe their own research work as part of a solution. The solution-oriented nature of research doesn’t necessarily mean that there are direct practical applications derived from it, instead, basic research can also be solution-oriented. A new piece of information may provide the missing link between understanding the problem and its solutions.

Mitigating climate change was a clear theme in the autumn 2018 call for applications. The applications included technical and nature-based solution proposals as well as ones related to people’s behaviour. The majority of project applications, and thus also the projects funded, addressed environmental challenges and their solutions systemically, that is, by taking multiple perspectives into consideration. For example, climate change, the loss of biodiversity and risks related to water are all interrelated.   

We also wanted to fund research on alternative organisational models, because solving sustainability problems requires alternative approaches to existing organisational and growth models in addition to research on current operating models.

Some of the projects we funded

Researched information about climate change for young people

Tea Törmänen wants to improve young people’s knowledge about climate change. Törmänen’s “#Climate change and energy – science for digital natives” project clarifies energy and food issues in particular.

“I want to communicate to young people in ways and a language that they understand. Watching videos, for example, is very popular and that’s why there are YouTubers involved in the project. Young people are given the basic knowledge that will help them act as citizens and consumers. The purpose is also to help young people understand differences in scale: what can you influence yourself, and on the other hand, which issues require political decisions”, says Törmänen, PhD student at the University of Helsinki.

Törmänen believes her project is very timely, as she thinks we have been painfully slow to react to climate change. For example, the last IPCC report shows that action to combat climate change can no longer be postponed.

“It’s extremely important that young people have reliable, research-based information about climate change available. They are the ones most affected by climate change.”  

Companies as pioneers of ecological compensation

Postdoctoral researcher Jenni Laininen studies the possibilities of ecological compensation. Laininen, who works at the University of Eastern Finland, delves into the issue from a legal point of view.

“There’s a lot of talk about how we could compensate for negative environmental impacts of companies. The discussion often revolves around habitat banks and the state level, even though in reality our legislation is a long way away from enabling enforced compensation for environmental damage. That’s why I want to study environmental protection and compensation agreements between companies”, Laininen says.

Laininen sees that agreements between companies can help us with a very acute problem.

“They can help in securing Earth’s biodiversity. We also need nature reserves to act as carbon sinks.”

Eco-settlements change lifestyles

PhD researcher Elif Öztekin studies eco-settlements and their role in shaping people’s lifestyles. Öztekin is especially interested in the learning processes that exist in eco-settlement networks. She wants to find out how the process of changing habits takes place.

“Some communities have already figured out transitioning to new ways of living. I aim to understand how these transitions are shaped. I see that societal awareness of environmental problems is increasing and many of them are wondering how they can change their behaviour to be more environmentally friendly. That’s why I find my research extremely important”, says Öztekin, who currently works at Aalto University’s Department of Design.

Öztekin explains that studying transitions is an emerging field in design research.

“We are definitely moving towards the phase of transition design. Lots of researchers focus on the processes that change systems. The social perspective is establishing its position in the field.”

View all the funded projects here.