2021 was a year of many firsts for Wärtsilä. We broke new barriers in innovation, pushed our commitment to sustainability many notches higher and stepped beyond the boundaries of business and profits to find solutions to real-world global problems.
In our podcast series this year, host Atte Palomäki spoke to global experts about some of the world’s most pressing issues including eco-anxiety, access to education, Mercy Ships, COP26 and what we can do to keep the target of 1.5 degrees alive.
Robert Costanza, Australian National University: If we hurt the environment, we are hurting our wellbeing. And we're using GDP as an excuse to continue to do that. It's not good for us in the long run, or the short run for that matter.
Frank Martela, philosopher and researcher of psychology: GDP as a measure of people's wellbeing has shortcomings. So, for example, it doesn't take into account equality, therefore it doesn't take into account who is getting the money, who is getting wealthy in the country and who is not. Essentially, GDP is blind to these kinds of developments.
Also, nowadays, when there's more and more talk about these environmental issues, that's something that GDP is not good at accounting for. And then there's also like many of the factors that make us happy that are not measured by the GDP. For example, close relationships, the sense of basic security, feeling that you can walk down the street without being harmed, and feeling safe in your home. These things are also not taken into account by GDP.
Håkan Agnevall, President & CEO of Wärtsilä: We are just coming out of COP26. The 1.5 degrees Celsius Paris Agreement targets, they are alive, but they are clearly on life support. And we really need to accelerate decarbonisation.
We actually have the technologies that we need to make this transition. But, we need to create a level playing field when it comes to the financial equation between the new solutions and the old solutions. At the end of the day, we need to make significant investments in new technology. But this new technology can actually bring down overall energy costs.
Dr Emma Lawrance, mental health innovations fellow, Imperial College London's Faculty of Medicine: We see that in a survey of 10,000 young people in 10 countries around the world, 45% said that worry and stress about climate change were affecting their daily life – their sleep, their relationships and their work. So this is very serious.
The results of that study also showed that in contrast – what some people thought of as eco-anxiety, sort of a ‘rich nation, western, white’ problem – that people or countries where there was more direct experience were actually showing increased anxiety and distress because they are more exposed.
Anya Kamenetz, writer and correspondent at NPR: The narratives that we're presented within the media that touch on climate change are oftentimes fragmented, frightening or else quite technical.
We hear about giant government reports, or we hear about flooding and fires and there are not a lot of attempts to connect the dots. I think what the media could do a much better job of is representing the positive actions that folks are taking all across
the board – whether that be entrepreneurs, activists or youth.
Peter Vesterbacka, principal advisor, Ambitious Africa education project: It is about bringing the people together and really looking at what we want to achieve and typically people will find common ground by looking at what we need to do to solve the problem.
We should be very, very careful not to let various ideologies come in between because we all share a common goal, which is that we want to provide fantastic education. After that, you'll get fantastic jobs and, hopefully, a fantastic life.
Sampson Kofi Adotey, Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Cape Town: Each country could either establish a council that has representation from both private and public organisations, so that the policymakers, private sector, and public institutions come together and establish a roadmap for ensuring that we are able to up-skill our graduates. Therefore, when our graduates are out of our universities, they have the skills to be able to adapt to work, and to evolve careers into pathways that will empower them and also liberate them from poverty.
Robert Corley, Chief Operating Officer, Mercy Ships: 40% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of a major port. If we focused only on on-ground facilities, we would miss a major opportunity to address a gap. Our founder’s vision was to provide ships that bring infrastructure to people and we have, through partnerships and investments, been able to grow our onshore practices as well.
For example, the Gamal Dental School and Clinic in Guinea has helped to train and build dental practices throughout West Africa. At the end of the day, it is partnerships with a country’s healthcare professionals that make the model successful.
Nina Kopola, Director General of Business Finland: We cannot continue living in the way we have been and continue wasting resources. We have to make a concerted effort throughout various actors to really make a change in the course of development. Otherwise, our children’s future will look very, very different.
Khalid Sharaf, Director – Expo Business Programme: When people walk out of it, they walk out with a mindset of ‘I need to change my behaviour. I need to change because if I don't change, our oceans are going to get polluted; our fish are going to die!’ And that has a huge impact on the ecosystem.
As a species, we need to be change makers – each one of us has to change our behaviour. And that's one of the most important pillars of Expo 2020 for people that come there in person or experience it digitally.
This extract is abridged. To hear the complete version, please listen to the podcast.