Authors: Anzelika Krastina, MEd., MBA, senior lecturer, Lapland UAS & Eeva Helameri, MA, specialist, Lapland UAS
this article we would like to share the results of the seminar, that
was organised in Rovaniemi, Finland on 30 November, 2023 focusing on
green transition in business field. It is important to evaluate actual
impact and value of such events for Lapland-based stakeholders and
companies. According to participants of the seminar, the insights into
circular economy concepts and practical tools for sustainable business
development are of great importance for the future sustainable business
The green transition and sustainability present a
unique set of challenges for Lapland-based companies due to the region's
distinctive characteristics. Lapland, located in the northernmost part
of Finland, is known for its Arctic climate, vast wilderness, and
reliance on sectors like tourism and natural resource-based industries
(Regional Council of Lapland, 2024).
Many companies face
challenges in transitioning to sustainable practices as they deal with
uncertainties, and lack a clear roadmap for navigating the complexities
of the green transition. Understanding this as a common challenge not
only in Finland, but across entire Europe, an Erasmus+ project was
initiated to tackle a part of this challenge.
As a part of this
project, we created a simple to use guideline or a roadmap also called
as SECA guide (Krastina et al., 2023), with tools for companies to
better develop sustainable business. Stakeholders from entire Lapland
region participated in the seminar to discuss the challenges of green
transition and to learn good practices and tools for sustainable
Transforming sustainable business: contemporary themes and tools
hybrid seminar “Green transition and sustainability - what does it mean
for a Lapland company?” was aiming to find out what the challenges of
Lapland-based companies in green transition are, to multiply awareness
regarding sustainable entrepreneurship, good practices and tools
utilized for development of sustainable business. Furthermore,
participants had the opportunity to test practical tools provided in the
SECA guide to better understand what it really means in terms of
business operations and how it could be applied by businesses in
The event was organized in collaboration by two Lapland
UAS projects: MUUVI and SECA. The Sustainable Entrepreneurship for
Climate Action project (SECA, 2023) is a two-year Erasmus+-funded
project implemented by Lapland University of Applied Sciences from
Finland, Turiba University from Latvia and Aachen University of Applied
Sciences from Germany.
The project aims to increase the skills
and knowledge of sustainable development among current and future
entrepreneurs. MUUVI project deals with the change of companies in the
light of green transition and digitization by providing micro-studies.
The MUUVI project is financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). The
seminar was targeting in particular entrepreneurs and regional
authorities in Lapland, Finland.
The seminar consisted of two
parts. First part was dedicated to the presentations by experts on
relevant sustainable business-related topics, and the presentation of
the SECA guide and the tools it outlines for sustainable business - a
key result of the SECA project. The second part of the seminar was
divided into five themes and workshops where participants were
introduced to the tools of the handbook and were able to apply them in
- Circular economy business models - how to minimize resource consumption
- Lean management – improving efficiency and reducing waste
- Problem - Solution tree - how to create a new sustainable business idea
- Design thinking - how to create lasting value for customers
- Sustainability communication
the presentations and discussions during the workshops with the
entrepreneurs, regional authorities, businesses and other participants
we could learn that there is a “long way to go”. The transition towards
sustainable business is currently slow, but soon we will have to
accelerate this path.
According to Hanna-Leena Pesonen from the
Regional Council of Lapland, the green and sustainable transition will
directly affect Lapland-based companies. Lapland has elaborated on
Lapland's Green Deal programme and companies are encouraged to
familiarize themselves with that, to understand how to evaluate their
operations according to ESG principle: Environment, Societal and
Governance practices (Matos, 2020). Hanna-Leena Pesonen challenged the
companies to ask the questions:
- What effects (positive and
negative) your company has on its operating environment: people, the
environment and the economy? Here or elsewhere.
- Where do the most significant effects arise?
- What can your company influence?
- What is essential from the point of view of the company's values and goals?
- What do customers expect?
- What about society?
- How will the big global challenges affect your company?
- How do you manage these potential risks?
seminar discussions on the significance of green transition and
sustainability also raised an important subject about the future of
sustainability reporting as the EU envisions new regulations in this
area. Sustainability reporting, once considered a voluntary practice for
companies, is no longer purely optional due to several, evolving
factors. In recent years, there has been a global shift towards
recognizing the importance of corporate responsibility and transparency
in addressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Nelly
Korteniemi, from Lapland UAS, provided insights from entrepreneurs'
perspectives on the new upcoming requirements for sustainability
reporting according to European Sustainability Reporting Standard, ESRS
Following this, the focus shifted towards
strategies for enhancing a company's sustainability, exploring various
tools and methods introduced in the SECA handbook. Eeva Helameri from
the Lapland UAS presented the results of the Erasmus+ project SECA,
focusing on one of the key results of the project, the SECA Guide and
its practical methods and tools. The seminar continued with practical
sessions on testing sustainability methods, covering topics like
circular economy business models, lean management, problem-solution
trees for innovative sustainable business ideas, design thinking, and
These sessions, held in both
virtual and physical settings, aimed to provide participants with
practical approaches to promote sustainable business practices within
their organizations. In the subsequent section, we will examine the
tangible results and impact on the participants, assessing the
discussions, applications of the tools, and insights introduced during
Picture: introduction to SECA guide and tools for sustainable business (picture credit A.Krastina)
Results and the impact analysis
participants were very diverse, not only in terms of geography but also
in their representation of various industries, showcasing a versatile
and broad spectrum of backgrounds. The people came from across Lapland
in Finland and many from other regions of Finland. There were all
together 36 participants coming from places such as Kittilä, Kemijärvi,
Rovaniemi, Oulu, Keminmaa, Kuopio, Tornio.
There was diverse
representation of industries in the seminar. Participants represented
various industries, such as retail, health care technology, municipal
waste management company, building and construction sector, welfare and
tourism. Representatives from business support services such as Business
Rovaniemi and Lapland Entrepreneurs were both – presenters and
In order to understand the actual outcomes and
impact of the event, we conducted a survey, receiving 12 responses. All
together 42% of respondents were entrepreneurs, 8% working in companies,
17% working for the municipality or regional or national authority, 25%
of the respondents represent the education sector, 8% other sectors.
When asked to rate own knowledge regarding sustainable business and
entrepreneurship before the seminar, the average result to the statement
“I think my knowledge of sustainable business was good even before the
seminar” was 6.2 points in the scale where 1 is very poor and 10 stands
for excellent. Obvious improvement of the knowledge on sustainable
business to 7.6 points was reported with the statement “My understanding
of the importance of sustainable business development increased during
the seminar”. The statement “My knowledge of sustainable business
development tools has improved” was rated at 7.6 points. The value
applied from 1 to 10, where 1 stands for “strongly disagree” and 10 for
The most important takeaways from the
seminar, according to the feedback by the participants, was knowledge
about the circular economy and the tools provided for sustainable
business development. Expert talks and discussion in small groups during
separate theme workshops were considered as very beneficial by the
participants. For example, in the workshop of circular economy tools´
presentation, the participant noted that they liked “practical examples
in the three yellow slides on the padlet platform in the circular
economy working group. It should be highlighted more”. Participants
confirmed that it is “good to hear where we are going and what kind of
projects related to the topic are going on”.
suggested that such events are important “to deepen the knowledge of
future requirements for companies” in regards to sustainability
reporting standards. The remark by one of the participants highlighted
the value of such project and events saying that “companies really need
paths to the tools” for sustainable development. As a final note to the
event organizers were such comments as “Great event, wise organizers!”
and “This is needed. Regional events to be organized together”.
were satisfied with the fact that also remote participation was an
option and therefore the participants from more remote regions were able
to join. 82% of respondents found the presentations of the seminar as
good or very good. The same number of respondents considered the
organization of the separate themes´ workshop as good or very good
It can be concluded that the seminar significantly
enhanced participants' understanding of sustainable business, resulting
in a notable improvement in self-assessed knowledge. Takeaways included
insights into circular economy concepts and practical tools for
sustainable business development.
Participants valued expert
talks and engaging discussions, particularly in the themed workshops.
Feedback emphasized the need for such events to deepen knowledge,
address future sustainability requirements, and provide access to
essential tools. Overall, the seminar left a positive impact,
emphasizing the importance of collaborative regional events and the
ongoing pursuit of sustainable business practices.
ESRS - Sustainability Reporting Standards. 2024. EFRAG.
https://www.efrag.org/Activities/2105191406363055/Sustainability-reporting-standards-interim-draft. Accessed 30 November, 2023
A., Nawrath, L. and Bruksle, I., 2023. Sustainable Entrepreneurship for
Climate Action: Digital Handbook on How to Innovate Sustainable
Start-Ups and Businesses for Climate Action.
Matos, P., 2020. ESG
and responsible institutional investing around the world: A critical
review. CFA Institute Research Foundation.
Regional Council of
Accessed 15 January, 2024
SECA. 2023. Sustainable Entrepreneurship for Climate Action. https://sustainable.turiba.lv/ Accessed 30 November, 2023
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