Sharing the Sustainable Lifestyle – A Crash Course for Jiangxi City Officials
Finland is known around the world for its clean nature, pure water and fresh air. Environmental considerations play a major role in many aspects of Finnish life, for example in city planning and urban development. Which is why a Chinese delegation of 25 city officials came to Oulu to find out how the Finns work on sustainable development, says education designer Anne Viherkari from the Extension School at the University of Oulu.
Coming from the province of Jiangxi, the Chinese visitors approached the university and expressed an interest in getting a customized three-week programme on ecologically sustainable development in urban areas.
They hoped to get acquainted with the practical work of running an efficient infrastructure in terms of waste management, recycling, achieving low-carbon processes, and so on.
Viherkari set to work in putting together a customized itinerary for the Chinese city officials.
“We wanted to make sure they had access to experts from across the field: from academia to city planning and public officials, as well as innovators in the cleantech industry and tourism, since sustainability in tourism is a very interesting topic in China. Three weeks is a considerable amount of time and we wanted to pack as much into it as we could”, Viherkari says.
The university shared its own world-class expertise, but the key to the Chinese visitors’ successful trip was bringing together a group of collaborators who were able to provide the delegation with presentations as well as visits to different facilities, where the guests could experience first-hand how things are done. VTT Technical Research of Finland, Natural Resources Institute Finland, the power and utilities company Oulun Energia and many collaborators from the cleantech industry were all eager to step in and share their knowledge.
“Finnish people jump at the chance to talk about nature and how important it is to us to maintain it as best we can, and this was no exception”, Viherkari says.
Viherkari says the Chinese were very pleased with their visit. For proof, she offers that the visitors wanted soon to have another, made-to-order programme involving vocational training and send more delegations for short-term intensive programmes such as this one.
While the jam-packed itinerary sent the visitors from facility to facility and from one expert presentation to another, there was still time for the Chinese to experience the thing Finland is so famous for: nature. Visits to the Arctic Circle, nature trails close to Oulu as well as Hailuoto, an island just outside of the city gave the Chinese a chance to see why the Finns are so keen on taking care of their environment.
“Nature made a profound impression on our visitors and the feedback we received was excellent. The delegation left Finland on a very positive mood. I think one of the reasons the visit was so successful was also the chance for the visitors to see how we live day-to-day in Oulu, as they were able to get to know the city and its people, too”, Viherkari says.
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