Finland is officially the happiest place to live in the world. This is clear from the World Happiness Report, according to which the Nordic countries are at the top of the list for the sixth year in a row. Nature and a sense of community were mentioned in the report as the two biggest reasons that make Finns smile.
One Finnish city that certainly brings the two together is Lahti. Known as the land of 1,000 lakes (actually 188,000), Lahti is located an hour’s drive from Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and is a pioneering city in terms of environmental sustainability. Winner of the European Green Capital Award in 2021, Lahti has many examples of recognition of sustainable development and initiatives that trigger behavioural changes.
It is the first city in the world to test personal carbon trading, an app that collects travel data from residents and rewards them for making sustainable choices to reduce their carbon footprint. By choosing economical means of transport, the user earns virtual euros, which can be exchanged in local shops, bars, and restaurants.
This is an important part of the wider goal of making Lahti a carbon neutral city by 2025.
All of the city’s 120,000 residents live within 300 metres of green space, and even its ice hockey team, the Lahti Pelicans, is carbon-free—they don’t fly to away games and use green energy in their stadium. Lahti noted in his European Green Capital proposal that the city’s environmental success would not have been possible without the passion and cooperation of the local community.
Work travel continues to require collaboration and the desires of several groups to effect environmental change.
A 2021 year-end survey by rail technology operator Trainline Partner Solutions found that 66 percent of employees expect their employer to offer sustainable travel options. Seven in ten workers (71%) said companies that do not offer sustainable business travel set a bad example for future generations, and one in five year-olds said they were considering leaving their current employer. business travel policy.
The survey also found that 73 percent of workers would like employers to provide clear information about the impact of “forced” redundancies.
If companies still don’t act and adopt sustainable policies and ways to measure carbon emissions, then maybe governments will start to bare their teeth and push for change, like the French government at the end of 2022. France got permission from the European Commission to ban domestic flights as an alternative train connection from less than two and a half hours.
The battle is still going on in the Netherlands, where the Dutch government tried to ban all domestic flights between Amsterdam and Brussels (a major commercial travel route), but this is now enforced by EU regulation. In response, they announced plans to reduce the number of flights at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol as part of a policy to reduce noise and air pollution.
A sustainable future requires less talk and more action. If we want positive change in our industry, we must continue to innovate and keep business travel at the forefront of environmental initiatives (and that will help us stay as happy as our Finnish friends).