Globally disproportionate overconsumption of natural resources threatens the life supporting systems of our societies. The alarming rate of biodiversity loss and progression of climate change are man-made disasters that most evidently impact our future.

Thus, Finland Futures Research Centre works for enabling alternative, more sustainable futures. Our research, education, and development projects are interdisciplinary and international. Sustainable energy systems, climate change mitigation and adaptation, resource efficiency and sustainable and just bioeconomy are some of our key topics.

We aim to find novel approaches to complex eco-social issues through e.g. capacity building in higher education in the Global South, by  developing new tools for modelling sustainability and analysing its indicators, by working for transnational futures literacy, and by supporting crosscutting climate education in Finnish universities. 

Ongoing Research and Development Projects:

Climate Innovation Through Interactive Ecosystem Summits (Cities 4.0)

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In CITIES 4.0, four innovation ecosystems from different European cities are preparing a joint multi-annual action plan with the aim of strengthening their efficiency, capacities and interconnection and jointly tackle the challenges, while maximising the impact of their contribution to the European Green Deal and to their cities’ efforts towards carbon-neutrality.

Project partners: Brainport Eindhoven, Leuven MindGate, Fondazione Innovazione Urbana, Turku Science Park Oy and Ecosystem Thinking Institute.

FFRC is a subcontractor in the work package coordinated by Turku Science Park during 1.9.2022–28.2.2023. The whole project is carried out by the end of April 2024.

Further information: Jarmo Vehmas

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Cuban energy transformation. Integration of renewable intermittent sources in the power system (IRIS)

The ‘Cuban Energy Transformation’ (IRIS) project develops new tools and methods for planning the energy system. The project concentrates on aspects related to the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar, in the Cuban electricity system and the problems and advantages related to it. The target is to develop renewable energy scenarios which take into account the global development context and the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and cultural (PESTEC) dimensions of development.

The project looks at the interlinkages of these different aspects in the context of the transformation processes taking place in Cuba. Development of the local research capacity in participating Cuban universities and research centres is one target. Dissemination and utilization of the research results will take place via stakeholder workshops and the active contacts of the partner institutions to Cuban ministries and other organisations.

Finland Futures Research Centre/University of Turku and Tampere University of Technology are the Finnish partners of the project. Principal investigator of the project is Dr. Jyrki Luukkanen. The Cuban partners of the project include: Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba; Instituto Superior Politécnico Jose Antonio Echeverria, Technical University of Havana, CUJAE; CubaEnergia; and CIES (Centro de Investigacion de Energia Solar, Cuba).

Funding: Academy of Finland, 2019-2022.

Further information: Jyrki Luukkanen

Iris project description

Decision Makers, Future and Sustainable Consumption

Further information: Sanna Ahvenharju


Futures Literacy across the Deep (FLxDeep)

FLxDeep is a six-partner initiative led by Finland Futures Research Centre at Turku School of Economics – University of Turku in cooperation with futures literacy experts at UNESCO.

It is funded by EIT Climate KIC and aims to co-create and implement processes that introduce, develop and actively apply the capability called futures literacy to support climate-related social, business, and technological innovation.

> Read more about the project.

Further information: Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh, Finland Futures Research Centre

Lounapuisto - a circular economy park

The aim of the project is to create a circular economy operational entity that supports the circular economy-related business of existing companies in the City of Salo area, helps to create new circular economy companies and thus new jobs.

The project activities consist of (1) collecting and analysing existing data and (2) using data as background and discussion materials for workshops. The workshops produce new meeting places for companies and other needed organizations, create business ideas, and create the commitment and trust needed for collaborative networks. The project will provide companies in operation with the means to start or further export their circular economy activities, and start-up companies will support the development of their business.

The project is funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will be implemented between 1 December 2021 and 31 August 2023. The project is coordinated by Yrityssalo Oy and involves Lounavoima Oy, Turku University of Applied Sciences and the University of Turku (Finland Futures Research Centre).

The project is divided into three work packages: A common vision for circular economy cooperation in Southwest Finland (TP1), Building the Lounapuisto circular economy ecosystem, assessing and managing its activities (TP2), and Communications (TP3). The tasks of the Finland Futures Research Centre are mainly related to the development of Lounapuisto vision (TP1). It creates a phenomenon map related to the circular economy, organises visioning workshops and, based on the phenomenon map and workshops, produces Lounapuisto vision for 2035.

Further information: Jarmo Vehmas

Lounapuisto logos

Myanmar Energy and Environment Education (MEEE) – Developing a Partnership on Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing

The Myanmar Energy and Environment Education (MEEE) project directly contributes to the development of sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth in Myanmar by enhancing capacities of Myanmar partner institutions to provide quality education on environment and sustainable energy for growing societal and energy sector development needs.

Myanmar is currently in a critical time in its energy transition. To be able to attract investors in the renewable energy sector and to re-investigate the government’s RE targets, enhancing access to energy and electrification, as well as reducing CO2 emissions and environmental pollution from fossil fuels there is a dire need for nationally grounded energy expertise.

Partners of the project:

  • Yangon Technological University
  • Europa-Universität Flensburg
  • Wageningen University
  • University of Yangon
  • University of Turku (coordinator)
  • Tampere University
  • Myeik University
  • Mandalay Technological University

Project is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and participating institutions during 11/2019–11/2022

Further information: Jyrki Luukkanen, Mika Korkeakoski, Noora Vähäkari & Osku Haapasaari, Finland Futures Research Centre

Problem-based Pedagogies for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Education in Lesotho (PROPEL)

Access to modern energy services has direct implications on every aspect of sustainable development. Lesotho is one of the world's Least Developed Countries (LDC) where many households do not have access to electricity (less than 50% have access to electricity, roughly 10% in rural areas 2019). In the electrified areas, the demand for electricity is growing at a fast pace, but the supply has not been able to catch up. Lesotho has an abundance of techno- economically exploitable renewable energy resources such as hydro, solar and wind.

Application of renewable energy resources and adoption of energy efficiency measures can provide sustainable energy solutions and reduce the effect of increasing energy demand on greenhouse gas emissions. One of the major barriers hindering sustainable energy use and production in Lesotho is a shortage of knowledgeable and skillful human resources.

PROPEL is a collaboration project between the National University of Lesotho (NUL), University of Turku (UTU) and Aalto University (AU). The main objectives of PROPEL are to enhance internationalization activities between partner universities and to engage in capacity building at NUL to develop the quality of futures-resilient sustainable energy education through the training of trainers-approach. The project enhances the skills and competences of HEI staff in sustainable energy production and consumption by focusing on problem-based learning, online learning, and blended learning methodologies. The project supports the NUL’s MSc in Sustainable Energy programme and competences of NUL teaching staff to deliver high quality learning outcomes to students in both classroom and online environments.

Project activities focus on

  1. developing sustainable energy study content from a holistic perspective that incorporates supply and demand side considerations with a systemic lens;
  2. improving pedagogical expertise for the provision of high-quality, problem-based and digital sustainable energy education; and
  3. enhancing internationalization activities, enabling the formation of long-term partnerships between NUL, UTU and AU through student and staff mobilities, research collaboration and networking.

The project also aims to disseminate and promote thematic knowledge on sustainable energy to industry, public sector, and to civil society, building a foundation for long-lasting collaboration between all major stakeholders.
An overarching challenge that PROPEL addresses is the existential risk imposed by climate change. By promoting futures-resilient sustainable energy education in Lesotho and the internationalization between universities focusing on sustainable energy issues, the project addresses local educational needs, in influences growth of green jobs in the sustainable energy sector and promotes mitigation responses to climate change.

PROPEL is funded by Team Finland Knowledge programme and will be carried out by 31.12.2024. 

Further information: Osku Haapasaari

Real Estate and Sustainable Crisis Management in Urban Environments (RESCUE)

Real Estate and Sustainable Crisis Management in Urban Environments (RESCUE) is a multidisciplinary study funded by the Academy of Finland for 2020–2023.

The research project aims to promote the dynamic resilience and crisis preparedness of societies by concretising the role of real estate in both anticipated and unanticipated crises, at local and global scales.

> Read more about the project

Further information: Professor Emerita Sirkka Heinonen

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UNESCO Chair: Learning Society & Futures of Education

UNESCO Chair in Learning Society and Futures of Education project is part of the global Futures Literacy network coordinated by UNESCO. The project develops futures education contents and methods for informal and formal education that can be utilized worldwide.

Further information: Markku Wilenius & Laura Pouru