Water Guru: Jaana Husu-Kallio

Water Guru: Jaana Husu-Kallio

Water Guru is a series of posts highlighting inspiring leaders, educators, and mentors in the world of water.

Finland's water expert sees the forest for the trees.

We’re still buzzing from World Water Day 2022. Every year, World Water Day (and the related World Water Week) sparks inspirational conversations among leaders all over the world, which brought our attention to the work of Jaana Husu-Kallio, permanent secretary of Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. As Finland’s expert on all things farming and forest related, Husu-Kallio knows first-hand how important water is not just on a macro scale, but on a micro one, as well.

Delivering a global talk tied to World Water Week, Husu-Kallio spoke about the importance of addressing water scarcity, and how it trickles down to affect so many other aspects of our life on Earth. If we don’t manage our water properly, she warned, “it could be a disaster for the whole of mankind,” since water touches everything — from our food supply to our sanitation.

Demanding transparency from the industry

From Husu-Kallio’s point of view, a major part of water sustainability is understanding who’s using it and how. During her time as Finland’s expert on agriculture and forestry, she has pushed for more transparency from Finland’s farming industry. By increasing communication and data between farmers, food industry supply chains, and other stakeholders, Finland has grown to be one of the world’s most sustainable food systems, and an admirable model for mitigating climate change.

That’s because sustainability is directly tied to water supply, as Husu-Kallio has said. As part of a new water strategy introduced to the country in 2018, infrastructure was put into place to build a water-secure world by 2030. “Sustainable development is possible only if we can manage the risks related to water resources and their use,” Husu-Kallio said of Finland’s water strategy, adding that implementing a nationwide strategy would help guide “consistent efforts” to solve global water-related challenges.

Learning from the pandemic

Even though Finland is a fraction of the size of the United States (Finland’s population is just 5.5 million, about the same as Minnesota’s), we can learn a lot about how Husu-Kallio’s efforts are helping to steer her country toward a sustainable water model. What’s more, she says, we can learn from the pandemic, too.

In her talk last week, Husu-Kallio said that the pandemic has forced us to wake up and “get back to basics,” considering how to use the resources we have — like water. And, she said, “it showed us [that] solutions must be sustainable in the future.”

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