Helsinki Sustainability Center (HSC) was established on 4 October 2012. The initiative is not a direct follow-up to the book “Crisis of Global Sustainability” but related to it. Dr. Mika Aaltonen, the founder of the HSC and head of the Research Unit for Strategic Intelligence and Exploration of Futures at Aalto University, has been conducting seminars and consultations in discussing and deepening the concepts and ideas promoted by the book (as explained in Chapter 8) and the author of the book Tapio Kanninen has on his part been giving continuous input for the establishment process of the HSC and is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Center.
The Helsinki Times reported on 5 October 2012 the following on the establishment of the HSC: “Former president Tarja Halonen has been appointed as the chair of Helsinki Sustainability Center, a company promoting sustainable development, Helsingin Sanomat and Talouselämä report. Founded by Mika Aaltonen, a research director at Aalto University, the centre is a non-profit consultancy firm, the task of which is to help countries and companies to combine their business operations with sustainable development. According to Halonen in Helsingin Sanomat, the chairpersonship is part-time and unpaid.”
Here is a short description of the Center’s main mission and major functions:
Helsinki Sustainability Centre was established in order to make research and analysis related to global challenges (climate change, land system changes, water system changes, biodiversity), and their application in decision-making, truly effective. Helsinki Sustainability Centre will translate the scientific findings and policy realizations into detailed socioeconomic implications and assist Finnish and international actors in articulating and implementing actionable solutions.
Helsinki Sustainability Centre´s targets are:
1) to become a globally recognised knowledge provider – an honest broker with full transparency – in sustainability,
2) to assist the Finnish people, whether in government or business, in finding and implementing timely and disciplined strategies towards an innovative and truly sustainable society, and
3) to contribute to the international research, discussion and decision-making related to sustainability.
Not research, but analysis
– to allocate R&D&I and education resources appropriately and in a timely manner,
– to identify rapidly and dynamically opportunities for innovation,
– to determine which opportunities are in our strategic interests and which are not, and
– to field innovations faster.
Not focused only on changes in physical landscape, but especially on the implications they bring along for social, political and economic domains.
Such knowledge must be dynamic, both anticipatory of and rapidly reactive to changes across the global landscape of business. These are NOT the attributes of academic expertise. Nor can such knowledge be acquired in any single corporation. Nor is such knowledge resident or dynamic in a traditional R&D organization.
It will not be enough to generate more and better scientific data, or to develop more sophisticated models to reach a truly sustainable society.
We need a much deeper, clearer analytical understanding of the interrelated developments and the relationships among their components.
It is not enough to define the problem; we have to show the implications of policies so that policy makers can find actionable solutions, taking the holistic and synergistic implications of their policies into account.
Helsinki Sustainability Centre has multiple facets. It is an intelligence network, comprising trained analysts, software tools, and professionally established operational processes. It will develop connections to other relevant centers of excellence and contribute internationally to establish sustainability centers globally, regionally, nationally and locally, as feasible.
Briefly, it is a concrete step towards open source science. The pursued virtues are, according to the best traditions of science, critical engagement, open discourse, and cooperation – but the methods for achieving these goals are those of the 21st century.
Helsinki Sustainability Centre uses operational analysis as its main methodology. Operational analysis is similar to systems analysis, but transcends the technology and engineering relationships to include critical factors outside individual systems. It almost always yields new perspectives and very often highlights potential catastrophes.
Helsinki Sustainability Centre provides highly skilled, analytical capability for projects undertaken by universities and companies. It operates like a newspaper or media “desk” structure, with a desk for each major sector of global business.
The model is a composite of MI5, the Financial Times, and a technical library/network. No studies – online models comprising collaborative software linked to a large number of commercial and non-commercial sources.
Helsinki Sustainability Centre is designed to be gradually developed, using efforts underway today as starting points. An important component of work is to develop connections to scientific and international organizations working on sustainability issues, contributing to their decision-making as well as using their results as input into the Centre’s own work.