|Title||Finland, the Model Country of Climate Change Preparation|
Mr Kyungtak Kim/Teacher at Daejeon Foreign Language High School
I visited Finland from 9 to 18 February 2011 to observe the environmental education and climate change programs sponsored by Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity (KOFAC) and the Korean Environmental Education Program, Evaluation, and Research. When I asked Sinikka Lakkio-Whybrow, who belongs to the ASEF Classroom Network and teaches at Kaarina Senior High School in Finland, to coordinate my team’s environmental Online Collaboration, she was willing to accept my request. Thanks to her sincere efforts, four Korean teachers were able to visit Eco Viiki Ecological Housing Area, the Finnish Environment Institute in Helsinki, Piispanlähteen combined school and Kotimäki combined school, Kaarina Senior High School, and the Archipelago Ecological Park. At that time I was able to gain meaningful and practical insights. Based on the observations of various Eco schools and institutions, I would like to mention some impressive things.
First, at the Piispanlähteen School and Kotimäki School, many environmental projects have been implemented. The Eco committee, which consists of four representative agents from every class, holds meetings once a month to discuss initiatives related to sustainable development. Environmental education is practiced in daily life. Various activities, such as Earth Hour 2010, Nature School, exhibitions, 3R’s (Reduce-Recycle-Reuse), and Common Globe have been actively conducted.
Second, the desire to preserve the Baltic Sea continues to grow each day. At the Kaarina Senior High School, where Sinikka Laakio-Whybrow works, various subjects are set up to raise awareness of the state of the Baltic Sea and other issues related to water preservation. I observed them implementing Wetlands Project 2011, an initiative designed to reduce loading of the nutrients to the Baltic Sea. Moreover, fundraising activities, aquatic observation and experiments measuring the quality of water, and visits to water-waste treatment facilities have been conducted. The Kaarina Senior High School has built networks and increased communication between various organizations to preserve the Baltic Sea. According to Esa Nikunen, the director of the Development of Finnish Environment Institute, and Heidi Arpronen, a marine biologist for the Archipelago Center, Finland plays a major role in the international action plan to improve the state of the Baltic Sea along with neighbouring countries such as Russia, Estonia, and Sweden.
Third, I‘d like to mention Eco Viiki Ecological Village because it is an excellent example of an institution dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It was built between 1999 and 2004 and is located about 8 Km northeast of the Helsinki. I found the homes equipped with solar panels on the balcony railings and on the roofs providing heat and electricity. Many houses were built using flexible timber construction techniques. Residents are able to enjoy the benefits of nature and grow vegetables on the allotments plots. Additionally, natural ventilation, biodiversity, and the use of rain water help to make the Eco Viiki environmentally friendly. I believe Eco Viiki is a model housing area designed for ecologically sustainable development. Finland has been working hard to combat climate change in schools and homes by raising awareness through education and in everyday life. I think we have no other choice than to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For this, we need to practice the 3R’s (Reduce-Recycle-Reuse) in day-to-day life and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. As a teacher, I try my best to give good examples to my students, and encourage them to act now to help curb climate change. My trip to Finland would have been impossible without Sinikka Laakio-Whybrow and ASEF Classroom Network (ASEF ClassNet), a programme by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).