Solution Hack for Journalists

Ending Environmental Destructions for a Sustainable Future (March 2021)

Home Solution Hack for Journalists: Online Edition

How might we put an end to continuous environmental destruction?
How can you as a journalist drive that change for a sustainable future? 

Today’s economy has resulted in a destructive amount of waste, pollution and CO2 emissions, leaving deep scars on our planet. Corporations have extracted finite materials from the earth to produce products. The rise of activist movements and public concern around today’s damaging economy have pushed businesses and policymakers to introduce a systemic change in our economies. 

As a watchdog of society, how can journalists assess the solutions and avoid being trapped by greenwashing or ending up reporting about cosmetic solutions? How can you connect the dots and see how and what products are damaging the environment and communities far from home?

Looking at the science, researchers and thought leaders have been pointing out the need to redesign today’s “take, make, use, waste” model of the economy since the 1950s. While today’s public discussion on green solutions has referred to “reduce, reuse and recycle”, many consider that it is only a tip of the iceberg. We need to go much deeper to understand how the system works and identify the solutions that can put an end to the environmental, societal and economic issues that are surfacing already today. 

Our online edition of the Solution Hack for Journalists will take 12 journalists from all around the world on a journey to explore why we ended up where we are now, what needs to be fixed for recovery and what you as a journalist can do to drive the change for a better world.  By focusing on the problem areas and the links between global trade, products and environmental degradation, we will investigate whether the solutions offered actually fix the cause of the issue and think about the steps journalists can take as the “enablers of change”.

In a nutshell:

  • Theme: Why did we end up where we are now? What can you do to drive the change for a better world?
  • Date: 4, 11 and 24 March 2021
  • Location: Online
  • Participants: 12 journalists covering environment, science, sustainability, economy, business, urban planning, lifestyle, and consumer products
  • Fee: Free-of-charge 
  • Powered by: The Lookout Station (EFI) and The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra
  • Application Deadline: 22 February 2021 (at 15pm CET)

The online event consists of three hacks, and each of them helps the participants share experiences, explore problem areas and identify solutions on a step-by-step basis.

The participants are asked to join all three sessions

Day 1: Future hack - Envisioning the future
(Thursday, 4 March 2021. Time: 15:00-17:30 CET) 

  • What problems do humans create?
  • Is journalism part of the problem of the unsustainable economic model?
  • What’s the future we want? How can we design it? 
  • How can you reflect the “long-term view” in your reporting?

Day 2: System hack - How is our world connected? 
(Thursday, 11 March 2021. Time: 15:00-17:30 CET)

  • How are the products we buy connected with problems far away?
  • How can you tackle the complexity of issues by seeing the deeper structure?
  • How can you connect local communities with the issues that matter?

Day 3: Journalism hack - How can we enable change?
(Wednesday, 24 March 2021. Time: 15:00-17:00 CET)

  • How can you make real-life impacts through collaborative stories?
  • What change can we make? What barriers lie ahead of us?
  • What steps can you take both as a journalist and a global citizen? 

To explore the issue further, the participants are encouraged to follow the online Global Landscapes Forum on 19 March 2021, which focuses on how nature can be put at the heart of the global economy to support sustainable economic growth.


Alexandra Heal

Alexandra Heal is an investigative reporter. Her work for the Bureau on domestic abuse by police officers won the Private Eye Paul Foot Award 2020 and led to lawyers submitting a nationwide "super-complaint" with police regulators. She reports with Andrew Wasley on the impacts of global industrial agriculture for the Bureau's environment strand, notably Amazon deforestation. She previously freelanced for BBC News abroad and in the UK, and for the Guardian.

Richard Fisher

Richard Fisher is a senior journalist for the BBC, with a role that has involved leading the science and technology website BBC Future and overseeing the Features sites. He is a 2019-2020 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a former news and feature editor at New Scientist.

Madeleine Bair

Madeleine Bair is an award-winning journalist and media developer. She is the founder of El Tímpano, a Spanish-language reporting lab designed in collaboration with Oakland’s Latinx and Mayan immigrants. Madeleine has taught radio production to teenagers, worked on a morning show at Chicago Public Radio, produced multimedia for Human Rights Watch, and collaborated with media activists from around the world.

Otula Owuor

Otula Owuor has strong interest in popularization of science and technology as the driving force for sustainable development. He brings over 30 years of science communication and journalism experiences to bear for Science Africa’s partners and clients. Prior to founding Science Africa in 1994, Otula served for a decade as science editor and writer for Nation Media Group. His team has recently launched the Solution Journalism Africa Initiative together with the Solution Journalism Network and Nigeria Health Watch.

Taneli Heikka

Taneli (PhD) is a communication entrepreneur, researcher and journalist. Taneli is a radio columnist for the Finnish national broadcaster YLE. He is former Head of political and business news at Alma Media. Taneli has taught a course in dialogic journalism at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and lectured at Tallinn University, University of Jyväskylä and Finnish national broadcaster YLE. He has also researched innovative practices between professional journalism and civil society. 

  • Get hands-on training of systems thinking approaches relevant for journalists
  • Connect to journalists across the world who are dealing with similar topics 
  • Opportunity to explore circular economy core principles and practical examples
  • Collaborate with other journalists to uncover global connectivity
  • Get new ideas and approaches for journalistic research and story mining
  • Share experiences and learn from your peers
  • Become part of the community to explore a sustainable future

Upon completion of the masterclass, the participants will receive a certificate by the organisations. 

  • You are a professional journalist with a high commitment to sustainability issues 
  • You are willing to explore how journalists can facilitate positive change
  • You can dedicate time for all three Hacks 
  • You are not afraid to communicate, collaborate and work in small groups in English
  • You have a video-enabled laptop, tablet or smartphone with a stable internet connection and headset/earbuds with microphone for online meetings 
  • Your newsroom editor/manager is willing to support you

Note: In case of doubt, contact Rina at

Selection Criteria

The applications will be assessed by a group of media professionals and former journalists at EFI and Sitra on a rolling basis, based on the following criteria:

  • Your commitment to participate in the programme in full
  • Your willingness to learn, explore and collaborate for a new impact
  • Your language skills to communicate and work in groups in English
  • Consideration of the group dynamics & diversity
Apply Now

Marc Palahí

Marc Palahí is a leading expert on forests and global change, with a new vision of the transformational role forests can play in fighting climate change and developing a circular bioeconomy. He has been Director of the European Forest Institute since 2015. Marc has a PhD in forestry and economics and his work focuses on the development of a sustainable circular bioeconomy that prospers in harmony with nature. Marc leads the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance established by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales under his Sustainable Markets Initiative. (Photo: Ville Kokkola, Salama Visual)

Mari Pantsar

Mari leads the Sustainability solutions theme at Sitra. Sitra’s vision is that Finland will prosper by building a fair, sustainable and inspiring future that ensures people’s well-being within the limits of the earth’s carrying capacity. The theme drives an ambitious climate policy, boosts a fair and competitive circular economy and encourages people to take action for sustainability. Mari has about 20 years’ experience of managerial tasks in the development of cleantech and circular economy business in the private and public sector and on several companies’ boards. She has a doctorate in philosophy and holds the title of docent at the University of Helsinki and at Lappeenranta University of Technology.

Jyrki Katainen

Jyrki Katainen is the President of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. Jyrki Katainen’s career has focused on analysing societal change, finding solutions and decision-making. Before his appointment as the President of Sitra, Katainen was the European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. Prior to the Commission, he has held the positions of Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. During his 15 years as a Member of the Finnish Parliament he has chaired the Committee for the Future among other appointments.

Janez Potočnik

Janez Potočnik is Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel and Partner at SYSTEMIQ. He is an economist and former politician from Slovenia. He worked in the Government of the Republic of Slovenia as the Head of Negotiating Team for Accession of the Republic of Slovenia to the European Union and then as Minister without portfolio responsible for European Affairs. Mr. Potocnik was a Member of the European Commission from 2004 to 2014, initially responsible for the Science and Research and later responsible for the Environment. He was appointed as a Co-Chair of the IRP hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2014. In 2013, he received the United Nations Champions of the Earth Award.

Nani Pajunen

Nani is a leading specialist in the Sustainability solutions theme at Sitra. In her work, Nani looks for solutions to how the world economy could work within the limits of the earth’s capacity – how and by what means a balance can be found between the use of natural resources and the well-being of the earth. Nani’s doctoral dissertation deals with the transition of the industry towards a circular economy, with a focus on new business opportunities and the points of view of investors and owners. She also holds a master of science degree in civil engineering and a licentiate of science in technology in the field of environmental law. 

Thomas Sembres

Thomas Sembres is a land-use governance expert who started working at EFI in 2013. He leads the EU REDD Facility's work with producer and consumer countries on enhancing the transparency of forest-risk commodity trade. He engages in the Transparency for Sustainable Economies (Trase) initiative to improve monitoring of forest-risk supply chains. Thomas previously worked on programs to address drivers of deforestation at the UN Environment Programme in Kenya, the World Bank in the United States, and philanthropic foundations. He has a background in environmental policy from Cambridge University.

Yitagesu Tekle

Yitagesu Tekle is a senior researcher at the Governance Programme of the European Forest Institute (EFI). He has been working on advancing knowledge of forest governance, restoration, drivers of land-use changes and policy analysis in Africa, Asia, and Latin America for the past 12 years. Prior to joining EFI, Yitagesu worked as a natural resource expert for the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Education in Ethiopia. Yitagesu has a PhD degree in global environmental governance from the University of Helsinki, a double master’s in forest management from the University of Eastern Finland and from Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences and a master’s in agriculture business management from JNKVV, India.

Georg Winkel

Georg Winkel is Head of the European Forest Institute’s Governance Programme and the Bonn Office. He is also an associate professor at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, and a co-opted associate professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bonn. His main research interests are inter- and transdisciplinary research relating to forest and environmental topics, with a special focus on natural resource and environmental governance. His main interest is to assess and understand human-environment interrelations, focusing on forests and the many ecosystem services they provide for society.  Georg Winkel has led and contributed to various international research projects, inter alia he is currently coordinating the H2020 projects SINCERE and CLEARING HOUSE. He has authored more than 120 publications, 70 of the peer-reviewed scientific publications. He is very active at the science-policy interface and has given more than 150 academic presentations in his career.


Samuli Laita

Samuli works as a leading communications specialist at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. His work includes interaction with the Finnish and international media as well as strategic communications for the Sustainability solutions theme. Before joining Sitra, he worked more than 10 years as a journalist at the biggest Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. In addition to the media world, he has focused on environmental and spatial issues as well as urban planning.  Samuli believes that Sitra’s work to raise awareness and push society is as close to journalism as a person can get.

Rina Tsubaki 

Rina connects communities through design and systems thinking approaches. Three years ago, she joined the European Forest Institute with a mission to build a bridge between journalism and science. Her initiative, the Lookout Station offer programmes that connect media and science communities around the topic of climate change. Formerly with the European Journalism Centre, she has focused on developing opportunities for journalists to master new methods to do better storytelling. 


The European Forest Institute (EFI) is an independent international science organisation which generates, connects and shares knowledge at the interface between science and policy. EFI has 29 member countries who have ratified the Convention, and c.130 member organizations in 40 countries, working in diverse research fields.

In 2017, EFI has launched the Lookout Station to build a bridge between science and media through the topic of climate change. Since then, the Lookout Station has offered free training opportunities and accelerator programmes for the journalists to experiment with new techniques and ideas. The Solution Hack for Journalists is one of the long-running series of the initiative that focuses on systems thinking and life cycle thinking to connect the dots between environmental degradation and our day-to-day lifestyles. 

The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra is a future fund that collaborates with partners from different sectors to research, trial and implement bold new ideas that shape the future. Our aim is a Finland that succeeds as a pioneer in sustainable wellbeing. An independent fund is accountable to the Finnish Parliament. Funding comes entirely from the returns on the fund’s own investments: Sitra is public and self-funded – not a budget-funded body.

In 2017, Sitra established The World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF), which quickly gained a role as a landmark event of the year that brings together business leaders, policymakers and experts to present the world’s best circular economy solutions. Sitra was selected as the winner of the public-sector category of The Circulars Awards 2018, held in conjunction with the World Economic Forum.