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Young people get involved in developing sustainable cities

Developing cities

Young people get involved in developing sustainable cities

Through the Our City youth panel, young people can become involved in developing cities into better places to live. The chair of the panel is the 16-year-old Anna Mäkilä, who stepped into the shoes of CEO Saku Sipola for one day during Girls Takeover.

Girls Takeover is an event organised by the children’s rights organisation Plan International on 11 October, the UN’s International Day of the Girl. Companies and organisations whose operations have an effect on mitigating climate change were selected to be taken over by girls during the event. The day sought to focus global attention on the rights of girls and highlight the impacts of climate change on girls in developing countries in particular.

“As an urban developer and builder, we play a major role in the fight against climate change. We want to set an example to improve the position of women and girls, too, and encourage them to enter the construction industry,” says Saku Sipola, whose position was taken over during the event.

On the day of the event, our new CEO arrived for the morning coffee session at our headquarters in Derby full of energy and ready to engage with a team of our experts. The message was serious: Anna Mäkilä challenged us to think how we, both as a company and individuals, can influence the development of the rights of girls and mitigation of climate change.

“Of course, the construction industry is already doing a lot to mitigate climate change, but it’s not enough. In the future, construction has to be more sustainable – the emissions, the environmental impacts of materials and carbon footprints must be taken into consideration,” says Mäkilä.

Mäkilä then headed out to Wood City in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, with Timo Nieminen, SRV’s Executive Vice President, Strategic project development, and Saku Sipola. They were met there by Jari Suominen, head of Stora Enso’s Wood Products division, Outi Säntti, Project Director for the City of Helsinki, and Antti Aaltonen, Project Director at SRV. Wood City, a flagship of Finnish wood construction with international appeal, was a highly suitable place to tackle the topics of sustainable cities and wood construction. One of the discussion themes focused on attracting women into the construction industry. Mäkilä highlighted the importance of women’s career examples and role models.

“Show us what this work looks like in practice. Go to schools and talk to young people. This should be done early enough. By the time young people are in university, it’s too late to get them excited – they’ve already made their career decisions,” says Mäkilä.

After fruitful discussions and lunch, they continued on to the last stop – the Kalasatama towers and Majakka, where the final details of the youth panel were finetuned. The Girls Takeover day culminated on the roof terrace on the 33rd floor and its breathtaking views.

“The day was really rewarding and wonderfully planned! They truly listened to me. The people from SRV were interested in thinking about ways to influence climate change and the rights of girls. The impression I got of SRV is that it’s a company that takes sustainability issues seriously, does its research and is a nice workplace,” says Mäkilä.

Close cooperation with project development

In connection with Girls Takeover, we launched a youth panel – we sought 15-to-19-year-olds from the Greater Helsinki Area, Turku and Tampere to give their views and opinions on the development of construction projects that are currently on SRV’s drafting table. Urban development already involves close dialogue with different stakeholders. The youth panel deepens this dialogue with a major stakeholder – the urbanites of the future. The youth panel will work closely with SRV’s project development. The projects that are currently being planned will only become visible in the cityscape years or decades from now.

The kick-off of the youth panel was held in January 2020. The panel will meet quarterly and its members will be appointed for terms of one year.

“I eagerly await the year ahead and believe that on the youth panel we can achieve many good and concrete actions. Developing cities together will definitely benefit both SRV and all of us on the youth panel,” says Mäkilä.

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