Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) participated in the high-level event "New European Bauhaus Goes Into the Woods" at the Haltia Nature Center in Finland on Thursday. Kallas was invited by Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin to the event, which also attended by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Ebba Busch.
Discussions focused on ways forests can provide inspiration and material for sustainable construction, while also fostering biodiversity and providing carbon sinks.
Speaking at the event, Kallas began by referring to the Estonian saying "one should see the forest behind the trees," which stresses the need to look for solutions to problems from a broader perspective. "This is what the New European Bauhaus is all about," she said.
"Every Estonian is passionate about forests because the forest is more than we can measure. It has been an important place to hide, to find peace and embrace nature and it has also been a poor man´s fur coat," she continued.
Kallas then stressed the continuing importance of forests in Estonian culture. "Although we are considered to be very tech-savvy, we also pick berries and mushrooms. We know which ones you can pick and which ones you cannot. There is also the joke, that you can eat all of the mushrooms, (but) some of them only once," she said.
"Forests are pivotal to the green transition and part of the solution in reaching climate neutrality – just like all the other sectors. We have set the much needed climate and biodiversity goals in the EU in order to fight global climate change. But these goals and ambitions are only doable if we consider the right role for each sector and offer solutions for their transition," Kallas said.
The Prime Minister went on to emphasize the importance of forests and the roles they play in people's lives. "We expect a lot from our forests. Be it their role in absorbing carbon, as an important sanctuary for many species and habitats or as a vital source of livelihood and provider of resources. But also, as a place where we like to spend time, to hike, exercise, relieve stress. As the founder of the Bauhaus School Walter Gropius said, 'Under trees, the urban dweller might restore his troubled soul and find the blessing of a creative pause.'"
"As forest-rich countries with long experience in sustainable forest management, Estonia, Finland and Sweden can be pioneers in transforming the sector to be future-proof. Perhaps, as a way forward, forestry also needs its own Just Transition for certain parts of the sector. We should also make preserving forests profitable for the owner, not only (for) logging," Kallas added.
Kallas said that, the event had provided "the impulse to create a platform between Estonia, Finland and Sweden to develop skills related to the use of wood in the New European Bauhaus," adding that the three countries aim to "develop skills related to the sustainable use of wood and provide opportunities for scientists and companies to work together."
Kallas concluded, by announcing that Estonia will be joining the Nordic Bauhaus family. "This will be an excellent opportunity for our scientists and companies to develop a shared culture and vision in building the best living environment that connects people with nature, "she said.
Thank you @MarinSanna for taking us into the woods in Haltia and @vonderleyen for launching #NewEuropeanBauhaus Academy for sustainable construction.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) November 24, 2022
Estonia, Finland and Sweden will contribute by creating a platform that develops skills related to sustainable use of wood. 1/6 pic.twitter.com/CZP5OWbJRJ
Editor: Michael Cole