Leena Kopperoinen


ESMERALDA Insider: Leena Kopperoinen on interdisciplinary research, science-policy dialogue and securing a positive future for Europe


We asked our scientists to share their research passions and their motivation in the project. Here is what Leena Kopperoinen, SYKE, Finland had to share with us.

Leena Kopperoinen is a Senior Researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, with a focus on developing methods for sustainable urban and spatial planning, especially in terms of integrating green infrastructure and ecosystem services in planning to achieve better environmental and social sustainability and to enhance environmental justice related to healthy and revivigying living environment. Within ESMERALDA Leena leads Work Package 2 "Stakeholder network and implementation". 

On her work and research interests:

Leena's research is focused on working with inter- and transdisciplinary teams which consist of researchers from different disciplines as well as practitioners and decision-makers from different sectors and levels of governance. In addition to GIS analysis methods, Leena finds her inspiration for work in exploring co-creative methods.

"I enjoy interacting with people – I always admire how much wisdom is available when you work in a group where people have different fields of expertise, experiences, values and interests. Life-long learning of new things is the fuel that keeps me going," explains she.

Carrying out reasearch covering different ecosystems mainly in northern boreal forests biome, Leena also has a special interest in urban areas and wider urban regions. The essence of her research, however, lies within aiming to tie scientific advancement with supporting decision-making for a better environment in practice. 


As a leader of Work Package 2, Leena is responsible for making a network of stakeholders in all EU member states complemented by some non-EU countries, such as Norway, Switzerland, some Western Balkans countries, and Israel. Through this work ESMERALDA has also gathered knowledge about the gaps in mapping and assessing ecosystem services in different countries as well as identified possible solutions to overcome them together with the national stakeholders. The aim is to provide guidance and needed support so that each member state could achieve the targets of mapping and assessment by 2020.

"It is fascinating to see how the member states proceed in the mapping and assessment work! There is so much expertise and knowledge to share in this European wide project. My wish is that the community we are building during the project over the whole Europe will stay alive and active also after the project’s end." adds Leena.

The next step is to communicate the various needs for further support for ecosystem service mapping and assessment to high-level decision-makers both in EU and in state level. More permanent support mechanisms and national networks must be established if the targets are to be met evenly all over Europe.

"During the past 1,5 years I have had the joy to start voluntary work in supporting young refugees in my home region. It has been an incredible experience which has concretely reminded of how privileged we are in such countries which enjoy time of peace." shares Leena. "Encounters with many young people and especially sharing our home with a few new family members have enriched my and my family’s life. I strongly believe that only collaboration and being humane can provide us with a secure future also in Europe. MAES and ESMERALDA provide meeting points for different people from different countries – let’s use this opportunity to enhance mutual understanding and to do our part for a secure future." concludes she.