This City is Inviting Nature to its Meetings — Literally!

The European Green Capital for 2021 is now giving nature a seat at the table.

Jun 8, 2021
This City is Inviting Nature to its Meetings — Literally! | The European Green Capital for 2021 is now giving nature a seat at the table.

It’s no secret that time spent in nature offers us multiple mental and physical benefits. It reduces stress, energizes us, and offers proven health advantages.

But this year’s European Green Capital, Finland’s city of Lahti, is now piloting nature time as an office policy.

As part of its run as the European Green Capital, this municipality in Lahti, a city situated on a bay at the southern end of Lake Vesijärvi, some 60 miles north-east of Finland’s capital, Helsinki, has an ambitious goal. It wants to ensure that protecting its natural resources remains front and center in the minds of its policymakers.

To do this, Lahti has developed a service called “Lahti Green Screen”. It automatically connects a nature camera placed in unspoiled woodland and lakeside areas surrounding the city, to video meetings; effectively live streaming the great outdoors to the city’s workers. To do this, they asked for help from esteemed Finnish nature documentary maker, Petteri Saario, himself originally from Lahti.

This innovation stems from their thinking that the more time we spend in nature, the more likely we are to be sensitive to the needs of nature around us, and to be motivated to make sustainable choices and help conserve our environment.  Video meetings keep us in touch with our friends, family and colleagues. So why not also use them to connect us to nature?

As the municipality explains on its Green Lahti website: “With the project, the city aims to increase its employees’ well-being and encourage more sustainable policies by making nature a part of decision-making.”

To spread the word, participants enjoying nature’s soothing presence in their meetings, are being encouraged to share a photo or screenshot of the meeting on social media using the hashtags #EUGreenCapital and #Lahti Green Screen.

This Finnish city already has a number of green achievements under its belt. These are detailed in a recent media release, and include the former industrial city’s ambitious conservation goals, the role of nature in urban planning, active restoration of lakes and marshland, and the implementation of sustainable forestry in forests owned by the city. 

Saara Vauramo, program director of Lahti European Green Capital, explains that the idea for the service came when the city was planning activities for its Green Capital year in remote meetings. Nature had been such an important source of wellbeing for many during the pandemic, so why not bring it to employee screens in remote meetings, they thought.

Lahti has already used the remote connection to include its local nature in events of the Green Capital year. A lake from Lahti featured in a water-themed panel discussion held during the recent EU Green Week, as a part of the “European Dialogue for Sustainable Cities” discussion series

For now, this uplifting walk on the wild side is just for Lahti city employees. But who knows, this initiative could be a model for municipalities globally, boosting efforts to promote environmental values and the implementation of practical conservation measures among policymakers at all levels.

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.