Story | 03/28/2023 13:10:33 | 4 min Read time

The future of forests concerns all of us

Viivi Viitanen

The three-year partnership between UPM and The Guides and Scouts of Finland built dialogue between young people, companies and decision-makers on sustainability and climate issues. The co-operation reached thousands of young people.

UPM wants to better listen to and understand stakeholders' expectations. But how to reach a younger audience and make the forestry company's objectives better known among them?

With this in mind, UPM started a three-year co-operation with The Guides and Scouts of Finland in 2020. The aim was to increase long-term dialogue and awareness particularly on climate change and sustainability between young people and businesses and decision-makers.

"Young people in particular are increasingly concerned about climate change, and that is why we want to contribute to a constructive discussion about solutions and alternatives," says Saara Tahvanainen, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, UPM Fibres.

Our Biofore Share and Care programme

Making young people's voices heard

The partnership included several collaborative projects. In the Climate Backpack project, social media influencers gathered young people's ideas on how everyone can act for a more sustainable future. Messages were also collected on the campaign's own website and social media account.

In the end, young people sent hundreds of messages, highlighting their fears about the climate and their concern that problems will be left to future generations to solve. On the other hand, the young people also shared encouraging tips for climate-responsible behaviour. The messages were packed in a backpack, which was handed over to Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin in February 2022. The Climate Backpack project received three million views on social media in 2022 and the communications around the topic will continue in 2023.

Ambitiously towards a future beyond fossils

Young people's voices were also heard in the company's, the Erätauko Foundation's and The Guides and Scouts of Finland's Erätauko discussions, where a constructive dialogue on forests and sustainable forest use took place. While some of the discussions were moved online due to COVID-19, all of the dozen encounters were fruitful.

"The young people were happy that we were ready to discuss and listen to their messages. In the confidential discussions, the young people asked us to do more to promote sustainable forest use and biodiversity, and we are certainly trying to respond to these requests as best we can," says UPM Forest’s Communications Manager Virpi Mäenanttila, who participated in the discussion.

We achieved our common goal to increase understanding and dialogue between young people and various actors on climate change and sustainability.

The Guides and Scouts of Finland also praise the encounters.

"The forest debate in Finland is sometimes polarised. During the discussions, we were able to share our experiences of what the forest means to each of us in a relaxed atmosphere. This was very enriching," says Anna Iso-Ahola, Head of Community Relations of The Guides and Scouts of Finland. 

The co-operation culminated in the Finnjamboree Kajo camp in July 2022 in southern Finland, which attracted more than 120,000 visitors in total. In Kajo, campers and visitors were able to learn about UPM's activities at the Partner Village and in recreational orienteering. UPM was the main partner of the camp and donated all the timber used in the camp.

UPM was also the main partner at the Johtajatulet for Leaders seminar, where Scouts over 18 and other interested parties engaged in dialogue with Finland's leading decision-makers.

A fruitful partnership reached thousands of young people

The three-year co-operation succeeded in reaching thousands of young people all over Finland.

"The future of forests concerns all of us, and we share a common worry for their fate. I believe that through our co-operation we managed to broaden the Scouts' awareness about sustainable development and forests, deepen the dialogue between UPM and the younger generations and, at the same time, bring important messages from young people to the attention of society at large," Anna Iso-Ahola notes.

Saara Tahvanainen is also happy with the result.

"Our common goal was to increase understanding and dialogue between young people and various actors on climate change and sustainability issues. We achieved that well and the topics were present in all our joint projects. Through this collaboration, we also facilitated scouting, which supports the activities of Finnish children and young people and the development of a relationship with nature," she adds.

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