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The History of Finland

I chose Finland because it is the most eco-friendly country in the world.

This is the outcome based on the EPI: The Environmental Performance Index. It’s a useful tool to measure the green credentials of various countries around the world.

The EPI assesses a country’s eco-performance across nine categories: agriculture, air quality, biodiversity and habitat, climate and energy, forests, fisheries, health impacts, water resources, and water and sanitation.

Now the question I ask myself is how this came to be? What is the reason that they excel in this field? Why do they manage to prioritize this green quest, where other countries fail to do so? And more importantly, can we learn something from them?

It all boils down to this: all these green efforts are supported by a society that is fully committed to protect the environment. All the different sectors are helping each other in pursuit of a greener tomorrow. In order to understand we have to go back in time and dive deep in their national heritage and culture.

From an early age, Finns learn that the forest is a special, almost meditative place. Going into the forest to forage, hike or just breathe is a national pastime across all age groups. Because Finns tend to have such a close relationship with nature, it seems obvious to them that it is something worth protecting. They strive to protect the environment not just because of laws or social obligations, but because they genuinely feel it’s worthwhile.

When it comes to big things that affect every thing on this planet, such as environmental degradation, it is easy to fall prey to thinking that individual action doesn’t matter. But that is simply not true: Protecting the environment needs to start from the grassroots level, from the citizens wanting to make things better for their own sake.

Finland is a small country on a global scale, but they provide the world with an important lesson. In order to achieve a greener tomorrow, we need to find a connection with nature. That way, committing to a more sustainable lifestyle. Even if that means it makes life less convenient at first.

It will not be a sacrifice but an act of love.

Text written in July 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Delphine and at the beginning of March I swept the land of the best fries and chocolate in the world for Madeira. So this better be worth it!

Besides my culinary interests I’m always hungry for new experiences.  Currently I’m taking part in the Madeiran Heritage program as a history teller. I like to sink my teeth into good books, have a healthy appetite for outdoor activities (running, hiking, water sports) and am always in for a good laugh and dance. I graduated in Visual Arts as a copywriter and art director, but I keep an open eye towards everything interesting moving this world.

For those who are still wondering about the first sentence: The land I’m talking about is Belgium, obviously :D.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.