John Robinson, Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

If all politics is local, then so too must be dealing with climate change. In Canada, the Province of British Columbia has empowered municipalities to take on the initiatives required to address sustainability at the local level.

How do we make our cities more climate friendly and sustainable?

Since 2011, a team of researchers and partners from local government and non-governmental organizations, under the direction of Professor Ann Dale of Royal Roads University, has been looking at how municipal governments in British Columbia, Canada have responded to provincial climate policy. From 2012 to 2014, we reviewed 180 cities and municipalities, First Nations and regional districts; identified 11 cases of best practice; and interviewed representatives of those communities to see what they were doing and how well it was working.

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Pedro Aibéo, independent candidate for Helsinki City Council running through the Left Alliance party

Election Talk gives candidates running in the municipal elections a chance to discuss their views on the increasingly international aspect of Finnish society, as well as how this will affect their work if they are elected. Voting will take place on 9 April 2017, with advance voting between 29 March and 4 April. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Helsinki Times.

Why is an architect, who has so often written negatively about voting in elections, now a candidate for the municipal elections of Helsinki?

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Laura Nordström, Green party candidate for Helsinki City Council

Election Talk gives candidates running in the municipal elections a chance to discuss their views on the increasingly international aspect of Finnish society, as well as how this will affect their work if they are elected. Voting will take place on 9 April 2017, with advance voting between 29 March and 4 April. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Helsinki Times.

Helsinki is now an international place. Every day we become more connected with the rest of the world. This is the right direction to be going in and needs to be supported by municipal policies.

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John McArthur, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution

The bumper-sticker mantra ‘think globally, act locally’ is an important factor as countries strive to end poverty, protect the environment and curtail conflict. But it will also require institutions to align world economies with financial systems, as well as calling on discrete leadership from the United Nations. It’s the defining challenge of our times.

In 2015, all 193 members of the United Nations jointly agreed to a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Boiled down to their essence, the targets aim to end extreme poverty, promote inclusive economic gains, protect the environment, and strengthen institutions that mitigate conflict.

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Aniruddha Dasgupta, Global Director of the World Resource Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

A movement in Northern India called Raahgiri Day has become a focal point in a quiet revolution that is seeing pedestrians and cyclists take back their streets from heavy traffic. Creating car-free zones in congested downtown areas, such as Delhi, not only cuts down on air and noise pollution, but it also gives people a chance to reinvent their urban spaces.

India is breaking records, but for all the wrong reasons – its cities are choking on smog.

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Mark Zeitoun, Professor Water Security at the University of East Anglia

Water is a human right, but too often one of the causes and tools of today’s wars. If we confront the politics behind the scenes with international standards, we can reverse that trend.

Water has been integral to war since before the Belgians manipulated the dykes of the Yser River to halt a German advance, in the muddy and blood-ridden trenches of World War I. With this in mind, the fight to control dams in Syria and Iraq – as with tensions spilling over transboundary rivers around the world – are entirely predictable, and well within our grasp to resolve. Yet water continues to be misunderstood by pundits, diplomats and politicians alike as a natural resource devoid of politics; a matter for environmental scientists and engineers.

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Dan Koivulaakso, Left Alliance candidate for Helsinki City Council

Election Talk gives candidates running in the municipal elections a chance to discuss their views on the increasingly international aspect of Finnish society, as well as how this will affect their work if they are elected. Voting will take place on 9 April 2017, with advance voting between 29 March and 4 April. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Helsinki Times.

After two years in power, governments usually have a midterm evaluation in order to make adjustments to their policies. The purpose of this is to see how the goals set forth in the government’s program can be achieved.

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Navin Ramankutty, Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia

Despite advanced monitoring systems, global initiatives and policies aimed at preserving the world’s rainforests, controversy remains over whether deforestation rates are, in fact, declining.

An article in the New York Times last week reported an uptick in Brazilian deforestation since 2015, following a decade of decreasing rates of forest loss. For 10 years now, scientists, activists, and policymakers celebrated the decline in Brazilian deforestation rates and the successful policies that had slowed it down. The New York Times report suggests that we may have celebrated too early though.

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Henry Lee and Pu Wang, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

If the US withdraws from the climate arena, China could seize the opportunity to fill the vacuum and, in turn, exercise greater leadership in global affairs.

The transition from President Obama to President Trump has triggered fears that the new administration will overturn many of the policies, programs and successes of the last eight years. These fears are especially strong concerning the issue of climate change. While the policies of the new White House are still unclear, President Trump has appointed a number of people who have opposed the climate initiatives and, in some cases, expressed skepticism that the human induced climate threat even exists. The concern in many circles is that the administration will walk away from the Paris Agreement and repudiate the ambitious emission reduction targets set out in the US-China bilateral agreement signed by Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping in November 2014.

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Nora Lindström, Helsinki Green Party

Election Talk gives candidates running in the municipal elections a chance to discuss their views on the increasingly international aspect of Finnish society, as well as how this will affect their work if they are elected. Voting will take place on 9 April 2017, with advance voting between 29 March and 4 April.

Immigrants in Finland have the right to take free language classes as part of their integration process. Usually in Helsinki, these classes involve learning Finnish, the more widely spoken of the country’s two national languages. It was only a few years ago that immigrants gained the right to choose to learn Finland’s minority language, Swedish. As I learnt when my own husband immigrated here in 2015, however, this option is rarely presented, and few foreigners are aware of it themselves. I want to change this.   

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Kristiina Drotár, Espoo Christian Democrats

Election Talk gives candidates running in the municipal elections a chance to discuss their views on the increasingly international aspect of Finnish society, as well as how this will affect their work if they are elected. Voting will take place on 9 April 2017, with advance voting between 29 March and 4 April.

Times are changing. By 2030, one quarter of the capital area’s inhabitants will be of foreign origin. Many of these new citizens are highly educated and their professional skills need to be fully utilized in society. Immigration should be seen as a great resource, being something that will bring new talent and creativity to Finland.

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