Biodiversity Respectful

BIODIFUL is a movement with a heart of an interdisciplinary research project funded by the Strategic Research Council within the Academy of Finland. We aim at creating a network of change agents who want to seed the urgently needed environmental transformation, and to equip them with knowhow, courage and faith –biodiversity respectful leadership.  

Within biodiversity research there is already a lot of knowledge about the impacts and sources of the biodiversity loss. We are currently facing a wave of extinction on par with the historical events that transformed the Earth from one ruled by the dinosaurs and insects to the one ruled by one specific mammalian species. This time the cause of the extinction is not a meteorite, or an ice age –instead, we are to blame. In blindly treating the nature as a mere source of resources, we have unwittingly eroded the whole biosphere.

Within leadership research the focus has for long been on the realization of collective aims, on driving transformation to achieve human wellbeing understood predominantly in material terms. In combining leadership and biodiversity research we expand the notion of wellbeing: we believe that humans can thrive only as a part of a thriving biosphere. Our interdisciplinary effort of bringing together the insights from both natural and social sciences aims at creating a new paradigm of sustainable leadership.

However, we are not only interested in creating knowledge. We want the knowledge to be used. Protecting the type of biodiversity essential for sustaining human life calls for global collaboration. Transforming our way of life needs all of us: we all have a role to play as citizens, consumers, decision-makers or researchers. That’s why BIODIFUL goes beyond research, to being a movement that includes societal organizations, large and small companies, and individual change agents.

We want BIODIFUL to act as a stone cast to a pond: to create ripple effects and chain reactions of good life for all members of the biosphere. Welcome aboard our transformational journey!

Research project work packages


The first work package not only coordinates the whole project, but is also in charge of bringing together the knowledge and research from highly diverse academic realms. Our goal is to integrate the insights from natural and social sciences into a model of biodiversity respectful leadership. We understand leadership in a wide way: it’s not only about leading others, but even more importantly, about leading oneselfin the daily decisions.

The first work package is also in charge of fostering BIODIFUL culture. We want all of our researchers and partners to be well and to enjoy the ride, to create an inspirational atmosphere of hope and collaboration. This spider consists of the principal investigators, project coordinator and the communications and interaction manager.

Principal Investigator

Professor Ilari Sääksjärvi
Principal Investigator
University of Turku, Biodiversity Unit
Biodiversity, Amazonia, science popularization

Deputy Principal Investigator

Professor Satu Teerikangas
University of Turku, School of Economics
Strategic change, sustainable business, change agency

Project coordinator

Docent Juulia Räikkönen
University of Turku, Biodiversity Unit
Consumer behavior, nature-based tourism and recreation, wellbeing

Communications and interaction manager

Milla Unkila
University of Turku, School of Economics
Disruption, philosophy of science, strategic communications

Future Landscapes

Without knowing where we want to go, it’s difficult to get there. The responsibility of our second work package is to visualize the future we want to see materialize with biodiversity respectful leadership. We believe that instead of spreading doom and gloom, it is more conducive to create hopeful and enticing future visions that empower us to engage in transformation.

The future landscapes will be set in three actual Finnish environments representing three different types of places where both the natural and the man-made are visible. Through layering the future possibilities with the current realities,we highlight in a very concrete and tangible manner both the future opportunities and the practical means and steps necessary for making them real.

Future Landscapes WP leader

Matti Salo
Natural Resources Institute Finland

Biodiversity and

The most impact we all have on biodiversity materializes through our daily consumption –everything we buy leaves its mark. The third work package explores our mundane habits and creates knowledge about making sustainable choices in for example our everyday grocery-shopping or recreation. What is biodiversity respectful consumption?

We are especially interested in the relationship of the wellbeing of human and nature. What types of choices sustain both good and meaningful human life, and a thriving biosphere? What can we teach our young so that they can live a good and meaningful life embedded in a vibrant natural environment?

Biodiversity and consumption WP leader

Juulia Räikkönen
University of Turku, Biodiversity Unit

Biodiversity and

The impact of business on nature is no news. The traditional phrase of “the business of the business is business” no longer applies: instead, it is crucial to understand business as part of social structures in turn supported by and embedded in the natural realm. Our fourth work package delves into this emerging understanding of business as human and nature respecting action.

There is the will, but the ways are unclear. We seek solutions together with the companies, in an atmosphere of benevolent and genuine collaboration. Through combining theoretical insights and practical acumen we create new practices andempower transformational leadership –the ways towards biodiversity respectful business.

Biodiversity and business WP leader

Tiina Onkila
University of Jyväskylä, School of Business and Economics

Biodiversity and

In addition to good will and grassroot action, we also need to reform structures. The fifth work package takes a deep look at the institutional structures that hinder or support the necessary sustainability transformation. Law, regulationsand the political and economic guidance methods constitute the frames within which the individuals and organizations function: it is essential to understand the structural barriers of environmentally friendlyaction. It is even more importantto find such means of overcoming them that support the radical change towards making our societies genuinely sustainable.

Changing institutional structures demands courageous decision-makers and wide acceptance, supportfrom the citizens and organizations. Also, the social implications of the actions taken to protect the nature need understanding. We create knowledge to facilitate societal decision-making, to ease organizational foresight, and to enlighten and engage thecitizens.

Biodiversity and society WP leader

Sari Puustinen
University of Turku, Finland Futures Research Centre

Biodiversity Impact

In counting news hits, climate change trumpsbiodiversity crises despite the equal urgency of both. The notion of carbon footprint may be one reason for this: there is no similar concept that would as comprehensively and understandably capture the impact of our actions to biodiversity, and what is difficult to talk about, is easier to ignore. Our sixth work package is dedicated to filling this void.

We aim at developing and piloting a method that allows us to trace the biodiversity impact of a product throughout its lifespan. This “LIFE-print” would, in a concrete manner, show us if our individual production and consumption choice destroys or protects the biodiversity. Understandingbetter the impacts of our actions would go a long way in helping us make biodiversity respectful choices and changes.

Biodiversity Impact Measures WP leader

Ville Uusitalo
Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology

Communications and

For us, BIODIFUL is more than a research project. It is a movement with the goal of changing the world, of promoting radical sustainability transformation. This calls for two types of leadership, one geared towards inspiring others and the one oriented towards making responsible and impactful personal choices.

The mission of the sixth work package is to ensure that the insights and best practices developed within the sphere of BIODIFUL spread onwards to inspire and empower leaders everywhere. We will forma BIODIFUL Leadership Forum, a platform for the business and policy decision-makers to meet and learn. Equally important is the creation of an expanding charm of leaders, a collective of inspiring and inspired grassroot leaders who forward the biodiversity respectful message in their own lives and networks.

Comminications and interaction WP leader

Milla Unkila
University of Turku, School of Economics

Participants in the research project