Grassroot diplomacy from Finland
"What could be more valuable in these times than interaction between children and youth and crossing linguistic and cultural borders? Nature and environmental protection is our common issue" ambassador Harri Kämäräinen said recently, after he met an Iranian school group who reported about their visit to the ENO seminar in Joensuu, Finland.
Environment Online - ENO is a global school and network for sustainable development that was launched at Eno Primary School in North Karelia, Finland. After a hard and dedicated work this network has spread to over 10 000 schools in 157 countries. Most of schools come from less developed countries.Environmental themes are studied through activities and global campaigns arranged simultaneously around the world, locally and globally. ENO extends learning also to local communities and today there are already 50 cities in 20 countries as members in the ENO Green Cities Network. Cities are committed to assist schools in their environmental activities. The ENO Programme is run by an association based in Joensuu and is also supported by the city of Joensuu.
Tree planting is the most visible form of action. It started on the international day for peace in 2004, the same year when Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in tree planting. ENO aims to plant 100 million trees by 2017. This commitment was highlighted in Rio+20 Summit and featured in the summary of out of all the 700 pledges made for Rio. So far, 18 million trees have been planted and governments from seven countries have officially made a commitment to empower children and youth to plant trees in their countries. The overall number of trees is now 93 million. Amongst other countries, Finland's neighbour Estonia supports this campaign.
It has been a long and winding road. Ministries in Finland have agreed the importance of ENO and given many prizes. But they have not supported the overall programme. Maybe it has been too difficult to understand how impressive and widely spread ENO is. As well as this project builds peace through environment. Embassies of Finland have participated in these activities. The ambassador of Finland in Iran summarizes that "ENO is grassroot diplomacy as its best".
Mika Vanhanen, founder, CEO
The ENO Programme AssociationJoensuu, Finland